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What is the customer effort score (CES)?

Definition: Customer effort score (CES) is a customer experience metric that measures the effort customers put into interacting with a business.

It measures how easy or difficult it is for customers to solve their problems, find certain information, make purchases, contact support, or use the product…

By tracking CES, companies can change their processes, making it easier for customers to achieve their goals and increase their satisfaction.

How is a customer effort score measured?

CES uses a formula to calculate the average customer response to a CES survey.

The formula considers the sum of all customer answers divided by the total number of answers.

Customer Effort Score = Sum of Response Scores / Number of Survey Responses

The response score is a numeric value based on the company's survey scale. If the survey uses emoticons or phrases (“very easy,” “too hard”) in their survey, they are replaced by numeric values for the calculation.


A SaaS company had 50 support calls in the last month, at the end of each call, the customer was asked was requested to fill in a survey.

The survey asks them to rate “How easy was it to resolve your issue with our customer support?” on a scale from 1 to 7.

After 50 answers, the results were:


Number of Customer Responses

The sum of all answers is 208.

CES = 208 / 50

CES = 4.16

The score of 4.16 is below acceptable, meaning the company needs to improve how support helps solve customer issues.

What is the difference between CES, NPS, and CSAT?

All three metrics measure customer satisfaction, but each measures a different part of the customer experience.

Customer Effort Score (CES) measures a customer's effort to accomplish a specific goal with the company (purchase, solve an issue, find information). CES uses a 1 to 7 scale to analyze and minimize customer effort in interacting with a company.

Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures how likely a customer is to recommend a company to others showing customer loyalty. Companies use a survey with a 1 to 10 scale and divide responders into three categories: detractors (0-6), passive (6-8), and promoters (8-10). The final score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. 

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) measures customer satisfaction after interacting with a company (purchase, customer support call). CSAT is measured with surveys asking customers to rate their satisfaction on a scale of 1-5 or 1-10.

All three are important, and companies shouldn’t rely only on one. 

For example, CES gives insights into bottlenecks in customer experience and what needs to be done for it to be seamless. In contrast, CSAT gives insight into the quality of the same customer processes, and NPS segments customers into categories that need different approaches.

Customer effort score surveys – when to send them and best practices

CES surveys are sent to gather customer data right after they interact with the company for their experience to still be fresh in their mind and for them to be the most compelled to fill it out.

These moments are:

  • After a customer completes a purchase, identify how complicated the process was, how clear the pricing and TOS were, and if there was any inconvenience.
  • After a customer support call, identify how effective the call was and if the support was clear in taking the customer through the issue.
  • After launching a new feature, gather information about customer adoption and how hard it is for them to use the feature.
  • After interacting with self-service, whether self-help or self-checkouts, a company needs to know how efficient these parts of their website/product are in accomplishing customer goals.

To have the best results in sending CES surveys, utilize:

  • Using multiple channels will increase the response rate as customers will be prompted to fill in the survey from multiple sides. Although the best way is to build pop-up surveys right after they take action if the situation allows it.
  • Having a consistent and precise scale will get customers familiar with the different CES surveys and give you better measurements. A scale of 1-7 gives more options, thus better precision than 1-5.
  • Formulate questions that are simple, and specific, and trigger a customer to think about a number rating they would give to the service. These questions need to avoid steering their opinion.
  • Follow up with customers that didn’t fill in the survey and try to get every answer possible. Customers can skip surveys unintentionally, or be so unsatisfied that they don’t want to fill out the survey.
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Article FAQs

How do you calculate a customer effort score?
To calculate a customer effort score (CES), ask customers to rate how easy it was to resolve their issue on a scale of 1-10. The CES is then calculated by taking the average of these ratings. A higher score indicates that customers found it easier to interact with the company and achieve their desired outcome.
What is CES index?
CES index is a measure of customer satisfaction based on the Customer Effort Score (CES). It is a metric used to evaluate the ease of customer interaction with a company and how it impacts overall customer satisfaction.
What is a good CES score?
It depends on the industry and the scale used. Still, for a standard 1-7 scale, a CES above 5.0 is considered very good, meaning that most customers found the interactions with the company easy. Note that moving customers from 1 to 5 takes less effort than moving them from 5 to 7 and has a greater impact on their satisfaction and loyalty.
How to report CES score?
Firstly you need to determine the key metrics you are measuring (CES, distribution score, key drivers of customer effort...). After gathering all the data, it should be translated into an easy-to-understand visual representation with clear insights and tailored to the stakeholders. These results are then shared with key stakeholders with the goal of creating strategies to increase CES and the overall customer experience.
When should I use customer effort score surveys?
CES surveys should be used at a customer's key contact points with the company. These contact points are different for every company but are usually: after purchasing the product, interacting with the support, or visiting a specific website page. ‍

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