In a business landscape where focusing on customer experience is no longer optional, CX professionals can’t ignore the key drivers of customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. In recent years, Customer Effort Score (CES) has become a business-critical metric as a key indicator of customer loyalty and repeat purchasing.
But simply measuring CES is not enough, with 59% of customers reporting moderate to high perceived additional effort to resolve their issue, it’s time to equip your call center with the tools and resources necessary to minimize customer effort and drive return customers.
In this article, we’ll explore how to measure CES, why it matters to your business, and key ways to improve it.
What is Customer Effort Score?
As its name implies, Customer Effort Score measures how much effort the customer had to expend in order to resolve an issue. After a support interaction, the customer is asked to rate how easy it was to resolve their issue, typically on a scale of 1-7.
To calculate CES, simply add the total number of respondents who agree that the interaction was easy (those who give a 5 or above) and divide that by the total number of customers surveyed. According to Gartner, this threshold was set because the degree of loyalty of customers who give a 5 or above is basically the same and there’s a much larger opportunity to build loyalty if customers can move out of disagreement or neutral territory.
As you collect customer feedback, track your CES over time to benchmark team performance and identify areas for improvement.
Why Measure CES
If you’re already measuring common CX metrics like CSAT or NPS scores, you might think it unnecessary to measure CES. However, each metric paints a very different picture and CES in particular offers insight into the call center’s impact on revenue. According to research from The Effortless Experience, CSAT is not the primary indicator of a customer’s intent to repurchase or increase spend. This doesn’t mean that CSAT is not valuable, but it demonstrates that CES provides a unique set of insights.
This research also revealed that 94 percent of customers who had low-effort experiences reported that they would repurchase from the company, while only 4 percent of customers reported an intent to repurchase after high-effort interactions. As a key indicator of customer loyalty and revenue, CES is one that your executive team will no-doubt care about.
How to Improve CES
High customer effort scores are a direct result of agent performance. Without proper coaching and resources, agents likely won’t feel equipped to efficiently resolve a customer issue. With the right strategy and tools in place, team leads can help agents reduce customer effort at scale.
Consider these five tips for improving CES at your organization:
- Optimize Agent Training
Training is central to an agent’s ability to help a customer. The better an agent understands your company’s products and services, the easier it will be to resolve a customer issue. Training includes everything from the fundamentals of the business to how to handle escalations or angry customers and should prepare agents to handle a variety of different scenarios.
Ensure your training program goes deep into your business model, common customer pain points, and brand guidelines to equip new agents with everything they need for a successful interaction. Don’t be afraid to iterate on your training process over time as you identify areas where new agents were unprepared.
- Prioritize Micro-Coaching
Research from The Effortless Experience shows that organizations that focus on training (often at the expense of coaching) tend to have relatively lower-performing teams than organizations that prioritize coaching. This is unsurprising considering that oftentimes training consists of a few weeks of intensive informational sessions, before throwing a new agent into the fire.
The Effortless Experience calls for a renewed focus on integrated coaching––in-the-moment coaching around specific customer situations. The best supervisors focus about 75 percent of their coaching on integrated coaching, but it can be challenging for team leads to stay abreast of all agent interactions. A customer feedback and quality management platform allows team leads to identify negative feedback and let the agent know how they could have done better. Integrated coaching has helped call centers see a 12 percent increase in team performance.
- Encourage Self-Correcting Behaviors
Beyond manager coaching, agents should have direct access to the insights they need to improve their performance. Providing immediate visibility into customer feedback after every agent interaction can drive engagement and self-correcting behavior. Consider implementing a customer feedback tool to give agents access to performance dashboards, real-time customer feedback, and coaching insights.
With insight into both good and bad feedback, agents can optimize their performance and improve CES.
- Tie Effort Score to QA
As with coaching, a customer feedback and quality management platform flags negative feedback for real-time QA. Team leads can easily jump into the interaction and provide immediate coaching. By linking QA reviews to customer feedback, you can quickly identify any disconnects between internal quality measures and the way in which customers rate performance. Consider revamping your quality assurance scorecard to include metrics from actual customer feedback to help improve your CES.
- Make it Right
Receiving some negative feedback is inevitable, but with the right systems in place, you don’t have to leave it at that. Service recovery gives you the opportunity to make things right after a negative experience. Customer feedback and quality management tools flag negative feedback as soon as it comes in, so teams can determine the appropriate next step. Whether it’s a follow from a supervisor, a kind note, or a coupon, you have the opportunity to rebuild customer loyalty.
After the customer has been recontacted and the new ticket is closed, resend your customer feedback survey to measure the impact of your service recovery efforts. This is instrumental in reducing customer churn and encouraging return customers despite a poor CES score.
Your team works extremely hard to keep customers happy, so don’t be afraid to utilize tools that make it easier than ever to engage your agents and improve CES.