Oct 20, 2023

Customer Effort Score - How to Measure and Improve

When a buyer requests support your team usually is not the first who make an attempt to keep for this user the status of an actual client. This user is the first. He or she is the one who looks for ways to reach goals with your product, resolve an issue independently, or reach out to the service desk and do it with assistance. 

As any part of customer experience, it should be measured and analyzed.

Table of Contents

What is Customer Effort Score (CES)

It is a satisfaction metric that covers how easy for a client to accomplish a specific task or resolve an issue when interacting with a company. It can be described by a question "On a scale of 1 to N, how simple was it to resolve your inquiry with our product/service?" 

The higher the score the simpler the road ergo the better experience you provide in onboarding, automation customer service or self-service and communication with agents.

How to Calculate Customer Effort Score

The metric assessment starts with running a survey with a specified-above or tailor-made question that allows define satisfaction on the matter. 

The common CES scale ranges from 1 to 7, with 1 representing "Very Difficult" and 7 representing "Very Easy." It also can be on 1-10, 1-5 scales and adapted to your questionnaire as long as clarity and consistency are ensured.

Your audience should be interviewed after specific interactions or transactions like service, purchase, or feature usage. To capture real-time feedback it should be done right after the event otherwise a response can be less insightful as it should be. As with any abstract metric, it's defined by an average value.

To calculate CES of all the responses you've received, add up the scores (S) and divide by the total number (N) of respondents:

                                                                                                             CES = (S1+S2+S3+...SN) / N

For example, if you received eight responses with scores of 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 6, 4 and 7, the average CES would be (3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 6 + 4 + 7) / 8 = 5.3. To have the value in percentage multiply it by 100.

Customer effort score scale is divided the following way: 

  • High (6-7) straightforward; 
  • Neutral (4-5) moderately easy; 
  • Low (1-3) difficult. 

If your CES score is less than desirable, analyze the feedback and identify areas where users are facing challenges. Use this information to make changes to your processes, products, or human or AI customer services to improve the overall experience.

Alternative ways to measure CES are through agree/disagree surveys with an agreement grade, yes/no questions. In some cases, an emoji rating system is also applicable. Some CRMs or other even free tools allow building such forms without difficulties.

Your value should be compared to the industry customer effort score benchmark or competitors' scores to ensure its relevancy and optimality to standards. Without this context, it can be hard to discover the CX level and make tailor-made changes to your workflow and strategy.

How Many Surveys You Need to Measure CES

The accuracy of statistics is dependent on the size of an interviewed audience which in its turn is connected to the following factors:

Size of user base. If you have a large user base, you may not need to survey a high percentage to obtain statistically significant results. For example, surveying 5% to 10% of your audience may be sufficient. Consider also how many your team can process.

Segmentation. Consider dividing your audience by type, product usage, or geographic location. It allows gathering more accurate insights for a particular group or region and may affect the number of respondents.

Confidence level and Margin of Error. Determine the values of precision that are acceptable for you and the used tools. The less accuracy they indicate, the larger your sample size should be. Common confidence levels are 95% or 99%, and margins of error are typically set at 5% or less.

Distribution channels. Consider how you run a customer effort score survey. If you have a channel where a response rate is high you won't need to send out too many forms. Otherwise, you might need a larger group or even multiple communication tools.

Survey goal. Consider the objective of the measurement. If you're conducting an assessment to identify broad trends or areas for improvement, a smaller sample can be sufficient. For more insightful data for smaller segments, you may require more users.

Don't run by the numbers just for a quantity. Make sure that all data are properly processed and analyzed. It can be done after certain events, run weekly, quarterly, monthly or seasonally but the frequency matters - don't overwhelm your clients.

Why Measure Customer Effort Score (CES)

According to HBR and Gartner, 94 percent of buyers who experienced easy interactions with CS intend to repurchase. That's why by consistently measuring CES and taking action based on the results, you can create a user-centric approach that prioritizes ease of interaction and builds a basis for customer loyalty. In particular, it allows:

Discovering flaws. Find and resolve gaps to make any user journey smooth.

Raising loyalty. Desire and actions for improvement directly affect user satisfaction.

Reducing customer churn. Defining issues allows acting on them timely.

Optimizing self-service. Adding helpful resources and easing access will be rewarded.

Driving better decision-making. Efficient strategies are based on insightful data..

Increasing operational efficiency. Remove excessive and automate the routine.

Having a competitive pro. Users tend to abandon when there's a steep learning curve.

Enhancing employee motivation. Let them help where it's truly necessary.

Measuring CES is a strategic step for enhancing user experience and contributing to raising revenue by positively affecting buyer retention.

How to Improve Customer Effort Score

Many changes in CX can be done by streamlining operations: whether it's employee workflow or customer-involved processes. Mapping and optimizing user journeys, and automating communication with the best AI chatbot app are some of the steps to do it. Here are several other strategies that can help CES score to reach acceptable levels:

User-friendly interfaces

Improve the usability of your company website or digital product. The more intuitive the experience is the easier onboarding. Conduct usability testing to identify areas for improvement.

Proactive communication

Keep customers informed about relevant updates, changes, or issues. It can prevent misunderstandings and the need to seek help. It also allows forming the audience for a CES survey by encouraging them to try new features.

Multichannel support

Enable customer service online through channels that correspond with audience preferences. Make sure that your team is qualified, responsive and can properly and timely handle any inquiries sent to any platform and tools.


Customize interactions and recommendations to each user's needs and preferences. It's hard to meet anyone's requirements but by easing them a way to their goals you can diminish your product's unsuitable specifics for each particular user. Intelligent AI can help with that.

Clear guidelines

Provide well-defined, concise, and easy-to-follow instructions for product setup, use, and troubleshooting. Consider your audience to choose the appropriate language but in any event don't leave just documentation. Visual aids, video tutorials, and step-by-step guides are appreciated.

Customer feedback

Encourage the audience to share their experiences. Run surveys and interviews to gather insights and act on them. Continuously measure CES and monitor trends over time. Track changes in the value after making improvements to assess their impact.

Employee training

Train your employees, especially those in user-facing roles, to prioritize ease of interaction. Empower them with the knowledge and tools like OpenAI Chat GPT Ioni to resolve user issues efficiently without losing personalized approach and empathy.

Analysis and testing

When you identify areas with consistently high CES customer effort score, conduct root cause analysis to uncover the underlying issues and address them systematically. Don't be afraid to experiment and iterate. Test changes and enhancements to see how they affect the metric.

Remember that improving CES is an ongoing process. The goal is to create an effortless and enjoyable user experience. It can lead to higher satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. Regularly gather feedback, analyze data, and adapt your strategies to meet evolving audience needs and expectations.