We’ve already covered what Customer Effort Score (CES) is and why it is such a crucial CX metric to track.
Today, we wanted to write a short article about how to calculate it.
What is CES?
A customer effort score (or CES) is a metric that defines how much effort your customer needs to use to complete a transaction, resolve a support issue or interact with your company/product in general.
Along with metrics like CSAT, NPS and time-to-resolution, CES is one of the most important metrics for your customer support team and company at large to track.
How to measure CES
Much like CSAT surveys, CES surveys should be short and targeted.
They should include no more than a few questions, as a general rule, so you can ensure that you receive the maximum amount of responses possible.
In terms of grading scales, CES surveys are graded much like CSAT surveys. Here are just a few of the scales you can choose to use:
The Likert scale
These questions are graded on a scale from ‘strongly agree’ to ‘strongly disagree’, with values such as somewhat agree, somewhat disagree thrown in between those two extremes. They also often include a neutral option for people who are undecided or don’t know how they feel about a particular question or issue.
The number scale
Number scales feature numbers as a way to rate emotions of questions. You can have scales from 1 to 5 or 1 to 10. Think of the star ratings that you come across when looking for, say, reviews of software on sites like Capterra or G2. Those star ratings are based on number scales.
As the name suggests, binary scales feature two options to choose from. Those options are often a ‘Yes’ and a ‘No’ and apply to questions such as ‘Was your recent support experience with us pleasant and easy?’ Because these scales, by their nature, feature very little nuance, they may not be the best and can’t typically be used to get a very representative answer on where you stand in terms of metrics like CSAT and CES.
In contrast to binary scales, which typically allow for the least amount of nuance, open-ended questions are where you ask someone something in a survey and give them a text field to type out their answer. Though you can get a lot of information in this way, it may not be easy to interpret or useful in calculating your CES score, so should be used very sparingly and only when you want more context on a particular rating. It can be good to follow up with open-ended questions after someone has responded to a CES survey rather than build them into the survey itself.
How to calculate CES
Once you have designed and sent out your CES survey, you will (hopefully!) receive responses to it and will need a way to take those responses and condense them into one single representative number.
That way, you can keep track of your CES scores over time and benchmark them against both your past performance and industry averages.
CES scores are calculated much like CSAT scores are:
- You'll need to add up all the 4 and 5 responses (or the equivalent in whatever scale you have picked) you got to your survey. Design your CES questions in such a way that the higher someone rates you, the easier the interaction was for them.
- You'll need to add up the total number of responses across all scores.
- You'll then need to divide the total number of 4 and 5 responses by the total number of responses.
- Finally, you'll have to multiply that by 100 to arrive at the percentage.
So, for example, let’s say you send out a CES survey to 100 people. You receive 10 responses that score you a 1, 10 responses that score you a 2, 5 responses that score you a 3, 30 responses that score you a 4 and 45 responses that score you a 5. To calculate your CES, you’ll need to add up 30 + 45 to get the total number of 4 and 5 responses. You’ll then need to divide that by 100 and multiply that number by 100 to arrive at your CES percentage. In this case, that percentage is 75%.
What is a good CES score?
A good customer effort score varies across industries and even across cultures, so you should keep that in mind when evaluating where you stand. Generally speaking, according to the CEB Global CES benchmark survey, a CES score of 70% - 80% is considered decent and a score of 90% to 100% is considered excellent.
While using general benchmarks like this is very helpful, make sure that you are continuously measuring your CES score and benchmarking new scores against older scores to constantly try and improve them and prevent complacency in your customer support team.
Wrapping things up
Calculating your customer effort score (CES) is an essential step in monitoring and improving customer experience. CES measures how much effort customers have to put in to complete a transaction, resolve a support issue, or interact with your company in general. To calculate CES, you need to design and send out short and targeted surveys that use grading scales such as the Likert scale, number scale, binary scale, and open-ended questions.
Once you have received responses to your CES survey, you can calculate your score by adding up the total number of 4 and 5 responses (or equivalent) and dividing that by the total number of responses. A good CES score varies across industries and cultures, but according to the CEB Global CES benchmark survey, a score of 70% - 80% is considered decent, while a score of 90% to 100% is considered excellent. By benchmarking new scores against older scores, you can continuously try to improve them and prevent complacency in your customer support team.