Customer effort score (CES) is a customer satisfaction metric that can give you important insights about your users’ or customers’ experience. Unlike other customer satisfaction metrics, customer effort score looks at a specific interaction, and asks customers to gauge how easy or difficult it was. Since it is different than other customer satisfaction metrics, it is important to know when to use customer effort score to gather the most useful insights.

When to Use Customer Effort Score

What is Customer Effort Score?

Customer effort score asks customers about a specific interaction, such as resolving an issue or making a purchase. The question might be, “How easy was it to resolve your issue?” or “How would you rate your check-out experience?” with a numbered selection between one and five or one and ten between “very difficult” and “very easy.”

While a more general survey, like Net Promoter Score, can show you, in general, how happy your customers are, a customer effort score survey is more specific. Data from customer effort score surveys can help you determine where to focus your efforts for the most value.

After a Purchase

After a customer makes a purchase, this is a good time to use a customer effort score survey. You might assume that a customer who made a purchase had a good experience, however this is not always the case. If a customer really wants or needs an item, or is very dedicated to your brand, they might overcome obstacles to do it—but probably not for very long. Send your customer a follow-up email asking about how easy or difficult their purchase was.

Consider using follow-up questions about potentially difficult areas of your purchasing system, such as entering credit card information, creating an account, selecting shipping methods, using coupon codes, or finding the right product. When you use these customer effort scores regularly, you can quickly detect and fix any problems that are making purchases difficult for your customers.

After an Abandoned Cart

Some customers visit your online store, add items to their cart, and simply change their minds. Others encounter a problem that turns them away. This is another good time to use a customer effort score survey.

When a customer is about to click away, use a pop-up window to ask about their shopping experience, and how it could be better. If a customer is frustrated by a particular problem, they may be inclined to tell you. Or, if a customer has already entered their email, but abandoned their purchase, send a customer effort score survey in a follow-up email. Be helpful, and emphasize your goal of improving your overall customer experience, instead of on convincing the customer to complete their original purchase.

After a Customer Service Inquiry

Your customer service helpline, desk, or chat service should exist to help customers resolve problems. Maybe your customer wants to make a return, is having trouble with shipping, some software features aren’t working properly, or they’re having a billing issue. There are many reasons a customer might want to talk to a customer service representative, and this process should be easy. If it isn’t, customers are likely to get frustrated, take their business elsewhere and write a negative review. This makes customer service inquiries a great place to use customer effort score surveys.

After a customer makes an inquiry, ask them about their experience, and how easy or difficult it was to resolve their issue. Again, ask specific follow-up questions about potential problems with the system. Also, use open-ended questions, like what the customer was trying to solve. Answers to these questions will give you a better idea of how your customer service system works, and whether or not it’s helpful for customers.

After Installation and Set-Up

Installation and set-up is generally the last step for a wide range of big-ticket purchases, from B2C appliances and electronics to B2B industrial machinery and tech. Whether a customer is hooking up their new internet router or a technician is installing a manufacturing robot, a smooth installation and set-up process is essential to complete a successful purchase.

Use a customer effort score survey after installation and set-up to see if your customer encountered any problems, and so you can improve this process. You might ask about instructions provided for set-up, problems encountered, or how helpful an installation technician was.

A customer effort score survey will show you where customers are having difficulties, and give you more information about how to solve them. Use these surveys in a targeted way to identify problems at key points in the sales and service process. With this information, you can continue to make improvements, and create the best customer experience.

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