Customer effort score (CES) has grown in usage and popularity in market research over the past few years. It stems from years of big data analytics and analysis which detailed customer frustration points as being the largest drivers in switching to competitors. In today's digital world, customers are interacting with your brand and product around the clock through apps, websites, 24-7 customer service, and e-commerce. The days of 9:00 PM to 5:00 PM traditional business hours are no longer a true depiction of the full customer experience.
What is CES?
Customer effort score (CES) is a metric that typically uses a simple likert 1 to 5 scale. It asks, using a scale where "5" indicates very easy and "1" indicates very difficult, how easy was it to submit a bill payment using our app? Another question option would be to inquire on submitting an order on the e-commerce website or logging into a user profile on a website. I've seen different ranges of CES scales including 7-point and 10-point scales but the extremes remain the same, very difficult to very easy. Other variations of CES use level of agreement (strongly agree to strongly disagree) for the scaling.
Should I include an open-ended question after I ask CES?
Yes. It is always important to include an open-ended question after you collect the CES rating to find out the details. If you review results and the average rating for your website login process is 1.5 out of 5.0, you will quickly learn this is a pain point for your customers. However, without any open-ended comments or context, you may not understand what is driving that frustration. Without the open-ended question you may decide to overhaul the login system completely adding significant time and budget to the project. Wherein reality, customers were frustrated only with the finger print login on the banking app. Without the follow-up question you know you have a problem, but you don't know what the problem is.
What does CES teach you?
CES teaches you how easy or difficult simple tasks are for your customers. Considering usage of apps or websites for a company might be rather frequent, repeated frustrations with a particular section of the website or app could have lasting impacts. Analytics teaches us that if a customer expects a task to be easy yet the company makes it difficult time and time again, the customer is highly likely to switch to a competitor.
What industries should use CES?
Any industry that has a heavy involvement in online customer experiences. This could include banking (apps, bill pay, online banking) or retail (e-commerce, carts, shopping.) In these examples, customers are consistently interacting with your products online and around the clock. Without using data you may be unaware of experiences they are having online. Collecting CES metrics through surveys will help you keep the pulse of these interactions. Not to say CES is not a fit in other industries, but much of the usage of CES involves online experiences.
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