Reducing friction: Why you need to start measuring Customer Effort Score

Think of a customer trying to navigate through a cluttered and un-intuitive user interface. Despite wanting to engage with your product/service, they end up feeling frustrated or overwhelmed. Of course they’ll seek out simpler alternatives, even if those don’t match your brand in quality.

Churn is often the result of complex processes, unhelpful customer services, or too much time spent engaging with your service.

Friction refers to any obstacle or difficulty that makes it harder for customers to achieve their goals when interacting with your business. One effective way to address this is by measuring the Customer Effort Score (CES), which helps identify and reduce friction points.

What is CES and how is it measured?

CES is a metric used to gauge the ease with which customers can complete their interactions with a business. It measures the amount of effort a customer needs to exert to get their issues resolved or complete a transaction.

This is typically done through surveys asking customers to rate the ease of their experience on a scale, such as from 1 (very difficult) to 7 (very easy).

💌 Sharing CES surveys with the customer

The most common question asked is, How easy was it to get the help you wanted today? or How easy was it to resolve your issue?

On the other hand, it’s also important to ask more general CES questions, such as How easy is it to use [our product]? or How easy is it to navigate our site?

  • Make the questions simple, keeping in mind language barriers
  • Avoid negative questions like “How confusing is our layout?”
  • For more CES question ideas, go here

A CES survey is usually sent out right after a customer interaction. To optimize your survey deployment strategy, you must understand the key touchpoints along the customer journey.

🔢 Interpreting the data

Scores are then averaged to provide an overall CES for the business or specific departments. Simply add up all the CES ratings, and divide that by the number of survey responses.

A higher CES means that your customers find it easier to interact with your company.

It’s important to drill down and look at patterns. CES feedback helps you identify friction points along the customer journey.

Once you know where customers are experiencing difficulties, you can take steps to address these issues. You might need to streamline processes, improve technology, or enhance training for customer service representatives.

👍 Building an ever-evolving customer effort strategy

Ensure that CES surveys are part of your regular feedback process, which means you need to continually monitor and improve customer interactions. Integration with CRM systems can help you collect and analyze the data seamlessly.

When friction points get identified, it takes cross-department collaboration to remove them. Make sure to communicate improvements with your customers. If a specific feature is difficult to use, the customer likely avoids using it, and they won’t notice any changes you implemented.

In addition to paying attention to feedback, it’s important to be in communication with your partners and other companies that face similar issues regarding customer effort.

Why is CES important?

All customers value ease in their interactions with businesses. According to Gartner, CES is 40% more accurate in predicting customer loyalty than CSAT alone!

Reducing customer effort has multiple benefits:

  • Higher-quality interactions with your product/service. When customers find it easy to get what they need, their overall satisfaction increases, and they’re more likely to try new features and rely on your product/service for their growth.
  • More trust in customer service. If you can get them to associate your brand with ease of use, your customers are also likely to reach out if they need help.
  • Increased loyalty and retention. Customers who experience less friction are more likely to stay with a company and recommend it to others. While effort-related improvements aren’t considered “flashy”, they create the foundation for lasting customer relationships.

Common customer effort pitfalls

Things to watch out for when improving customer effort:

  1. Biases in CES surveys. Your team might have strong ideas about which parts of the customer journey are easiest. But it’s impossible to predict what customers will find challenging in advance.
  2. Overgeneralization. Customer effort has nuances you need to consider, especially if you have a diverse customer base. For example, age impacts whether your customers will find your UX intuitive. In interpreting CES surveys, it makes sense to segment the data.
  3. Adding complications (in the name of reducing them). In trying to improve your CES, you might end up achieving the opposite effect. Adding too much information can lead to information overload for the customer. If customers find a process too complicated, adding more steps won’t necessarily improve their experience.

Seamless experiences require constant innovation

Embracing CES as a core metric can be a game-changer for your business. But why not think beyond the basics? Take CES as a starting point to reimagine your customer journey.

Cutting-edge technologies like AI and machine learning can predict and address friction points before they even arise. CES surveys are integral to checking whether these changes achieved the necessary effect.

Of course, CES should work in harmony with other metrics like CSAT and NPS. You can also integrate CES data with real-time behavioral analytics to uncover hidden patterns in customer behavior.

By thinking outside the box, you can help your customers feel in control and confident in navigating your services. With this foundation, you can work to become indispensable to your customers.

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