Customer Experience

Updated On: Apr 1, 2024

Customer Effort Score (CES): What It Is & How To Improve It?

Reading-Time 10 Min

what is customer effort score

Customer experience is more crucial now than ever. There is ample evidence underscoring the importance of good customer experience for the success of businesses.

Organizations worldwide are focused on providing a seamless experience to customers to ensure greater loyalty and profitability.

A business can understand the kind of experience its customers want in several ways.

They can do this through surveys and feedback measuring customer satisfaction, net promoter scores, and other customer service metrics.

The customer effort score (CES) is another crucial metric used to calculate the impact of customer experience.

The customer effort score gained popularity among businesses after Harvard Business Review published an article titled ‘Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers’ in 2010.

Apart from its insightful findings, the article was appreciated for opining that a business should make it easier for customers to complete their purchase rather than impressing them.

The article also mentioned that a company could increase customer loyalty by improving its CES (customer effort score).

What is a customer effort score (CES)?

The CES is a crucial metric a business can use to analyze how much effort a customer spends interacting with it. The business can measure the customer effort score (CES) to gauge the ease of use of its product/service and the effectiveness of its contact center teams in solving customer problems.

How do you calculate a customer effort score?

The customer effort score can be estimated through surveys and feedback. Surveys are typically presented to consumers after they have completed their purchase. They can be pushed through websites, mobile apps, or emails.

customer effort score formula

For instance, a business can ask customers to rate their experience of its service on a scale of one to five or seven. The average of the collected responses gives the overall customer effort score of the business.

Some businesses also include happy, sad, and straight-face emoticons to capture the scale of effort customers had to take to complete their purchases.

CES emoji scale
Emoticon Ratings

What is a good customer effort score?

There is no specific benchmark for a good CES for a business. Most enterprises use different scales and formats to understand the kind of effort a customer has to take to complete an action.

Thus, it is difficult to set a uniform benchmark for this parameter. However, the general principle of the customer effort score is that the higher it is, the better it is for the business.

A high CES usually means the customer is happy and does not need much effort to complete an action.

On the other hand, a low customer effort score reflects that the business needs to simplify its purchasing or user process to reduce the customers’ efforts.

customer effort score number rating scale
7-Point Customer Effort Score Scale

Comparing Customer Effort Score (CES) with Net Promoter Score (NPS) & Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

CES is focused on helping customers complete a particular task or process with minimum effort. If customers have to go through complicated steps repeatedly to complete an interaction with a business, they will likely move to competitors sooner.

On the flip side, since the customer effort score focuses on only a particular interaction, process, or activity at a time, it doesn’t give the complete picture of the customer’s experience with your brand.

Therefore, using CES with other critical customer services metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is critical. This will give a complete picture of customer experience and satisfaction.

NPS is a loyalty score obtained by asking customers how likely they are to recommend the product or service to their friends or family. It can be a short survey about a recent product or service or a rating of recent experience.

On the other hand, CSAT focuses on the satisfaction level your customers have with your organization’s products and services.

How to improve your customer effort score?

Modern consumers are okay with shifting to a competitor brand if they face consistent roadblocks in their interactions with their usual brand.

Consumers today expect brands to provide easy solutions and a seamless transactional ecosystem. Businesses should focus on improving their CES, considering the cost of losing customers.

Here are some actions businesses can take to improve their customer effort score:

1. Provide consistent experiences across multiple support channels

The rapidly changing digital world constantly adds new support channels to the service mix. With an array of support channels, the customer can opt for the best one for them and may even choose to transition from one channel to another at their convenience.

To minimize customer effort and maximize satisfaction, it is essential to ensure that customers can switch seamlessly from one channel to another at any given point in their journey without repeating information.

An omnichannel customer support strategy provides seamless customer experiences with an integrated channel approach. As all the customer contact channels are integrated, customer context is preserved, making it possible to deliver consistently superior experiences throughout the customer journey.

2. Enable customer self-service

Along with the availability of strong support staff to help your customers, it is equally crucial to create adequate self-service solutions, as many present-day consumers are self-sufficient and prefer to serve themselves.

By integrating your knowledge base with self-service channels, you can deliver instant access to accurate solutions to your customers. With crisp and informative articles, how-to guides, and visual support guides, customer effort is reduced as the distance between the customer and support is minimized.

With Knowmax, you can create self-service content like help center articles, troubleshooting guides, and FAQs page and embed visuals with your support content for clearer and faster support.

3. Integrate CRM with your knowledge base to eliminate repeat conversations

Contact centers are some of the busiest work ecosystems. With high volumes of tickets and customers, problems can get overwhelming if processes and data are not streamlined effectively.

One way to make your agents’ lives easier is by integrating CRM with your knowledge base. On the one hand, it helps avoid asking repetitive questions to customers. Conversely, it provides your agents with information about the customer journey for effective and accurate support.

For instance, you can make contextual knowledge readily available to your agents by integrating Knowmax with your CRM.

The integration enables you to auto-traverse any step of the troubleshooting workflow, eliminating the need for customers to repeat information and boosting your agents’ efficiency in providing faster and mistake-proof solutions.

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4. Take customer feedback and implement it

Even the most experienced businesses still have opportunities and areas for improvement. As customers directly deal with your brand and its product/service, they can best highlight their pain points objectively.

It is always a best practice to take customer feedback regularly and implement the learnings to take your business to new heights. This way, your customers feel heard and valued, positively impacting their CX.

As nothing in the business world builds more credibility than social proof, having loyal customers will always put your business on the map to success.


According to Harvard Business Review, about 94% of customers who reported low-effort experiences said they would like to purchase the product again. If a business can build a low-effort customer experience, it can build consumer trust and scale its profits.

A high customer effort score helps to create a tribe of loyal consumers, which is critical for a company to succeed in today’s era.

Kamal Pathak

Lead Product Manager

Kamal Pathak has over 10 years of experience as a product manager building successful B2B SaaS products in customer experience space. He enjoys writing, speaking, and coaching aspiring product managers.

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