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Customer Effort Score (CES)

Customer effort score (CES) is one of the key customer experience metrics that gauges how much effort a person had to take to get help with their issue. Hence, the goal is to make the customer journey as effortless as possible.

CES is a survey-based, collective metric measuring the time, physical effort, mental work, and resources a customer needs to put in to complete the issue. Typically it's a numerical scale from 1 to 5 or from 1 to 7.

How to calculate Customer Effort Score (CES)

Obviously, CES should be minimized as customer loyalty will be higher for a product/service that is easier and straightforward to use.

Why Is Customer Effort Score (CES) Important?

CES is a valuable KPI since it helps identify the most frustrating parts of the customer journey. Businesses can then work to reduce the friction in those parts of the journey.

By reduciing CES, businesses can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. Unlike more more nebulous questions such as "Were you satisfied?", the amount of effort required is usually more clear to a customer.

How Do You Measure CES?

Typically, a CES survey has a simple form:

On a scale of "extremely difficult" [1] to "extremely easy" [7], how easy was it to engage with [Acme Co.]?


[Acme Co.] made it easy for me to resolve my issue. (Then list options with 1 being "Strongly disagree" and 7 being "Strongly agree").

In addition, the survey may include freeform responses that help identify what in particular led to a difficult experience.

The CES score is then an average of the survey responses.

It's typically best to send a survey shortly after a customer interaction.

What Are High-Effort Customer Activities?

These will depend on the particular customer journey, but a few common examples of high-effort activties are:

  • Switch between channels or operators to get to issue resolution.
  • Repeating responses to questions or inputting information multiple times or that the business should already have on hand
  • Not being able to find answers or self-serve options for common tasks such as upgrading a subscription

How to Improve Customer Effort Score (CES)?

  • Provide a multi-channel approach so customers can choose the one they prefer
  • Engage with the customers who had poor experiences and make it up to them
  • Offer self-service information such as a customer knowledge base
  • Offer self-service forms so that customers can make the changes they need themselves
  • Improve metrics such as handle time
  • Try and reduce wait times (thus improving first response time), or set up a callback system
  • Consistently measure CES and analyze the responses to surveys