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What Is Customer Effort Score (CES), and How to Measure It?

Customer Effort Score

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Author: Uthaman Bakthikrishnan

What is the one thing you look at while evaluating your ability to provide exceptional customer service?

It is the ease with which customers can do business with you. This is precisely what Customer Effort Score (CES) is expected to measure.

Before we get into what Customer Effort Score is and how to measure and improve it, let us look at some great examples of organizations that have made it easy for their customers to engage with them.

Amazon’s Hassle-Free Online Shopping through the 1-Click Ordering

The idea that consumers could enter their billing, shipping, and payment information just once and then simply click a button to buy something going forward was unheard of when Amazon secured the patent in 1999.

It represented a breakthrough for the idea of hassle-free online shopping.

The 1-click ordering allowed Amazon to create a very strong position in the market. It allowed Amazon to show customers that there was a compelling reason to give them their data and the permission to charge them on an incremental basis.

Would you believe that the other poster boy of usability, Apple licensed the 1-click technology in 2000 from Amazon for use on its website and the iTunes platform?

2-Key Factors behind the Success Story of Netflix

Netflix has changed how we watch entertainment content throughout the day and night.

The only reason customers are attached to Netflix is that it knows how to cater to its customer’s needs by giving them a remarkable experience.

The two key factors behind the success include:

Enhanced User Experience

The foremost aspect of its user experience is its customer-created preview videos. This preview plays on scrolling through a title card.

It allows content downloading, enabling users to watch shows offline. Besides, it gives you a 30-day free subscription. 

Personalized Experience through Its Recommendation Engine

Netflix tracks what we watch, when we watch, and how many episodes we watch every day.

Their machine learning-based recommendation engine uses this information and automates millions of decisions for us.

Without this recommendation engine, we would be spending a great time searching for the desired movies and TV shows.

Both Amazon and Netflix would go on to score positively on the Customer Effort Score.

Now that we have set the context, let us dig deep into what Customer Effort Score is and how we can measure and improve it.

What Is Customer Effort Score (CES)?

Customer Effort Score (CES) is a metric used to measure the effort required for customers to complete a task or resolve an issue.

CES is a customer service metric that helps organizations understand and identify how easy or difficult it is for customers to interact with them.

Customer Effort Score is typically measured on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 indicating low effort and 5 indicating high effort.

A low CES score indicates that customers are satisfied with the effort required to interact with a company. In contrast, a high CES score suggests that customers are dissatisfied with the required effort.

By regularly measuring CES, companies can track progress and identify areas where they are doing well and areas where they need to improve. This would allow them to make data-driven decisions on how to improve the customer experience.

It provides insights into the customer’s experience and helps companies identify pain points in the customer journey that are causing high effort for customers.

By understanding CES, companies can make informed decisions on improving the customer experience and ultimately increase customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention.

It can also help companies understand how they compare to competitors in terms of customer effort.

How to Measure Customer Effort Score?

Several ways to measure CES include surveys, customer interviews, and customer feedback.

1. Customer Surveys

Surveys are the most common method for measuring CES.

Organizations typically use surveys that ask customers to rate their level of effort on a scale of 1 to 5 or through open-ended questions.

These surveys are typically sent out after a customer has interacted with a company, such as after a customer service call or after making a purchase.

These surveys can be administered online, by phone, or in person.

One of the most popular survey questions used to measure CES is:

How easy was it for you to complete your task today, on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being very easy and 5 being very difficult?

2. Customer Interviews

Customer interviews are a great way to measure Customer Effort Scores.

This method involves conducting in-depth interviews with customers to understand their experience interacting with a company.

The interviews can be conducted in person or over the phone, and they typically last between 30 minutes and an hour.

Customer interviews can provide valuable insights into the customer experience, but they are time-consuming and can be costly.

This method is suitable for organizations that want to understand the reasons behind the customer’s score and gather qualitative feedback on the customer journey.

3. Customer Feedback

Finally, customer feedback can also be used to measure CES. Companies can collect customer feedback through social media, customer service portals, in-person, and other online platforms.

This feedback can be analyzed to understand customer sentiment and identify patterns in customer complaints.

This method is suitable for companies that want to gather a large volume of feedback and identify common issues in the customer journey.

Let me give you an example.

I recently attended a workshop on how to take a small business online. I was attending along with my wife, who was keen on taking her business online.

The presenter set an agenda and asked whether we wanted anything else to be covered.

I asked them if they could cover shipment platforms as a part of the presentation.

He responded, stating that it would be covered as a part of the presentation.

I was happy and participated in the workshop for the next three hours. It was very well done.

At the end of it, we were asked for our feedback, and the only feedback I had was, “you did not cover what I asked for.”

What do you think would have been the CES I would have given on a scale of 1 to 5?

Probably 3.

However, a lot of others pitched in when we had our lunch. It was all beneficial information, and I was happy I asked this question at the beginning of the workshop.

Now that you have measured your CES, what do you do with it?

You want to implement methods to improve your CES.

How Do You Improve Your Customer Effort Score?

Once an organization has measured its CES, it can take steps to improve it.

There are several ways to improve CES, including:

  1. Simplifying and streamlining processes
  2. Providing clear and easy-to-find information
  3. Training customer service representatives to resolve issues effectively

Simplifying and Streamlining Processes

This can help reduce the effort required for customers to interact with a company.

You can reduce the efforts by eliminating unnecessary steps in a process, automating repetitive tasks, and making it easy for customers to find the information they need.

For example, a company can improve the customer experience by creating a self-service portal where customers can find answers to frequently asked questions and resolve common issues.

This can help customers complete their tasks with less effort and reduce the need to contact the customer service team.

Clear and Easy-To-Find Information

This can help reduce the effort required for customers to interact with a company.

You can achieve this by creating a well-organized website, providing clear and concise product information, and making it easy for customers to find contact information.

For example, a company can improve the customer experience by providing a customer service chatbot that can answer common questions and guide customers to the right information.

Training Customer Service Representatives

This can also help reduce the effort required for customers to interact with a company.

You can achieve this by providing customer service representatives with the tools and training they need to resolve customer issues quickly and efficiently.

For example, a company can improve the customer experience by providing customer service representatives with an up-to-date knowledge base and a script to handle common customer issues.

You should also consider empowering your agents.

Let me give you an example of what an empowered agent can do to your business.

I was moderating a panel discussion recently, and one of the panelists shared this scenario with us during the session.

He booked a hotel for a 4-night stay in Gurugram using an Online Travel Agency. It was a non-refundable booking. When he checked in, he somehow did not like the hotel and expressed that to the hotel staff. The hotel staff apologized and suggested upgrading him to the suite room.

He wasn’t convinced and decided to shift to a better hotel.

So, he called the Online Travel Agency and told them that he had booked this hotel and wasn’t comfortable staying there. The agent said he would figure out if something could be done while listening to this.

If he had followed the Standard Operating Procedures, the agent would have said, “We are sorry about the fact that you don’t like the hotel, but since it is a non-refundable booking, we are not in a position to help you.”

However, the agent ensured he was refunded, booked him in another hotel, and helped him check in. The agent even checked whether he was comfortable with the new place.

What Happened Here?

The agent had enough data to know that ‘So and So’ has booked more than 500 nights through their portal in the last ten years. The agent knows he is a loyal customer of the portal because of its integrated system. He was empowered to decide to push for a refund of a non-refundable booking by going against the SOPs.

The agent ensured that the customer’s lifetime value only increased with this phenomenal customer experience.

Examples of Gaining Insights Using Customer Effort Score (CES)

1. Measuring and Improving CES through Surveys

A retail company uses a post-purchase survey to measure CES.

The survey includes the CES question asking customers to rate their experience based on the level of effort required to complete their purchase.

The survey also includes open-ended questions to gather qualitative feedback on the customer’s experience.

The company then analyses the survey results to identify patterns and trends in customer feedback.

Based on the analysis, the company implemented changes to its website, such as creating a more user-friendly interface and adding a chatbot to assist customers with their purchases.

2. Measuring and Improving CES through Customer Service Calls

A telecom company uses a post-call survey to measure CES.

The survey includes the CES question asking customers to rate their experience based on the level of effort required to resolve their issue.

The company also records customer service calls and uses a third-party service to analyze the calls for sentiment and identify pain points in the customer journey.

Based on the analysis, the company implements changes to its customer service training program and provides its representatives with additional resources to resolve issues effectively.

The company also implements an IVR system that directs customers to the appropriate department, reducing the effort required for customers to resolve their issues.


In conclusion, measuring CES is crucial for companies to understand how easy or difficult it is for customers to interact with them.

It provides insight into the customers’ experience and helps companies identify pain points in the customer journey that are causing high effort for customers.

By regularly measuring and improving CES, companies can make their customers their advocates and positively impact the company’s revenue.


About the Author: Uthaman Bakthikrishnan


Uthaman believes in the power of creation - it gives him a high to grow something from scratch and make it sustainable. Uthaman is the Executive Vice President and helps set the strategic direction and roadmap for ClearTouch, a pioneering provider of a cloud-based call center platform for enterprises, contact centers, BPOs, and financial services companies in India.