CSAT vs CES: What’s The Difference?

CSAT vs CES: see the key difference between these two (important) customer experience metrics.
Published on: Jul 19, 2022
Last updated: Nov 01, 2023


  • CSAT and CES are essential metrics for measuring customer experience and satisfaction in businesses.
  • CSAT measures overall customer satisfaction with a feature, service, or interaction, while CES measures the level of effort customers need to put in to resolve an issue or complete an interaction.
  • CSAT surveys typically consist of rating questions on a scale of 1-5, while CES surveys focus on how easy or difficult it was for customers to achieve their goal.
  • The formula for calculating CSAT is the percentage of 4 or 5 responses out of the total, while CES is calculated based on agreement or disagreement ratings.
  • A good CSAT score ranges from 60% to 80%, while a decent CES score is around 70% to 80%, and an excellent CES score is 90% to 100%.
  • CES surveys should be sent after specific interactions, like customer support interactions or when users try a new feature or service, whereas CSAT can be collected in various scenarios or on a fixed schedule.
  • Both metrics provide insight into how well support teams are meeting customer expectations and can help improve customer satisfaction and retention.
  • CSAT reflects overall satisfaction with the company, while CES focuses on effort in specific interactions.
  • CES is solely a transactional metric, while CSAT can be both relational and transactional.

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CSAT and CES are two of the most popular metrics when it comes to measuring customer experience and how your customers feel about your company. Both are helpful and have their place, and most teams should be actively tracking both.

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is a measurement of how happy a customer is with the company, whether in regards to a specific interaction they’ve had or in general. Customer Effort Score (CES) is a way to measure how easy or effortless it is for the customer to have their problems solved. 

In this blog post, we'll cover: 

  • What CSAT and CES is
  • What each measures
  • What their differences and similarities are
  • How to calculate them and
  • When it's appropriate to use them

Read on to find out more.

What is a Customer Effort Score? 

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.

The customer effort score was created by the Corporate Executive Board (now Gartner), who discovered through their research that low effort interactions were the key to driving customer loyalty and satisfaction in support interactions.

Low effort versus high effort interactions

Given that a customer effort score measures, well, effort, it is helpful to define what exactly is meant by a high effort versus a low effort interaction: 

  • In terms of customer support, a high effort interaction is one in which the customer has to jump through many, many hoops before finally being able to speak with an agent about a problem that they are having. In terms of product, it can also refer to a feature that has a steep learning curve or is unintuitive and difficult to use.
  • A low effort interaction is one in which a customer is able to solve their issue or problem with the least amount of friction possible. It can also refer to a feature that is easy to get the hang of and use.

How to measure CES score

CES is measured by sending out a short, targeted survey once a customer has tried a feature, had a support interaction, or similar. CES questions typically take the form of: 'How easy was it for you to (insert action) today?' These questions are then rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being very difficult and 5 being very easy.

Though this is the most common type of CES survey, other kinds of CES surveys also make use of different questions and rating scales. Some examples include: 

  • Binary scales: Yes or no questions. For example: Was it easy for you to use (insert feature)? 
  • Likert scale: Includes options from strongly agree to strongly disagree. Questions typically take the form of: Using (insert feature) was easy. Do you agree?'
  • Open-ended questions: These could include questions like: 'What could we have done to make (insert feature) easier to use?'

What is the formula for calculating a customer effort score? 

CES is calculated using the following formula: 

(Number of 4 or 5 responses/Number of total responses) x 100

For examples (including an Excel template to make things easier) and industry benchmarks for CES, check out this article: How To Calculate Customer Effort Score.

What is a good customer effort score?

A customer effort score of 70% - 80% is considered decent and a score of 90% - 100% is considered excellent.

Why you should measure and track your CES score

Your CES score can tell you a lot about how customers are feeling about your company and whether they are likely to churn. Some reasons to measure your CES score include:

To ensure you are adequately catering to the needs of your customers

Businesses have to place the needs of their customers first to ensure that all experiences are frictionless and pleasant. This means investing adequate resources in your support team and ensuring that you are following customer support best practices. It also means frequently measuring your CES score — along with other scores like CSAT and NPS — to ensure that your standards are being maintained and your customers are having the best experience on your platform.

To inspire customer loyalty

Customers these days have plenty to choose from – especially when it comes to SaaS companies. If their experiences with you are frustrating, they are bound to churn and use one of your competitors. And as we’ve mentioned before, low effort interactions are key to driving customer loyalty and satisfaction in support interactions.

To limit bad word of mouth

You’ll also want to regularly measure your CES score and benchmark yourself against your past performance and industry standards to ensure that you limit the possibility of bad word of mouth. Customers are 4x more likely to buy from a business that has been recommended by a family member, friend or acquaintance, so you need to ensure that all your customers have only good things to say about you.

To diagnose churn and customer issues

If you notice that your churn rates are unusually high for industry standards or have picked up recently, measuring your CES score and comparing it to your scores in the past can give you important information about why your customers are churning. If your CES scores are subpar, then you know that is likely one of the reasons your churn rate is so high. Try and think about the reasons why: have your support flow and customer support touchpoints changed? Are your agents experiencing a backlog of tickets and are therefore unable to quickly respond to support tickets — or respond at all? Have you introduced a product feature that is poorly explained or difficult to use?

How often should you measure your CES score?

Much like CSAT, CES is a transactional score. You should send out a CES survey in these situations: 

  • After a customer support interaction
  • Once a customer tries a new feature or service
  • At key moments along the customer journey. For eg., when a customer has completed a purchase

What is a customer satisfaction score?

CSAT, short for Customer Satisfaction Score, is a widely used metric in businesses to gauge customer satisfaction levels with a particular feature, service, or interaction they have with the company.

How is CSAT Measured?

CSAT is assessed through short surveys that typically consist of straightforward questions, asking customers to rate their satisfaction on a scale of 1-5 (although other scales like binary or open-ended questions are sometimes used).

What is the formula for calculating CSAT?

To calculate CSAT, you'll need to gather the responses from your surveys and apply this formula:(

Number of 4 or 5 responses / Number of total responses) x 100

For examples and an Excel template to make the calculation easier, check out our How To Calculate CSAT post. For industry CSAT benchmarks, you can read our CSAT Benchmarks By Industry post.

What is Considered a Good CSAT Score?

CSAT scores between 60% and 80% are generally considered average to good, depending on your industry. Scores above 80% are considered excellent, while scores below 60% indicate room for improvement.

How Often Should You Measure CSAT?

CSAT is a transactional metric, focusing on specific customer interactions with your company, product, or service. You can collect CSAT scores in various scenarios, such as after a customer support interaction, when users try a new feature or service, or at key points in their user journey or lifecycle. Alternatively, you can set a fixed schedule for CSAT surveys, like conducting them once every quarter.


CES vs CSAT comparison table

Both CSAT and CES fall under the category of most tracked KPIs by support teams. Both metrics can be extremely helpful when it comes to improving customer satisfaction and understand how your team is meeting your customers' expectations. But there are some important distinctions to keep in mind.

Here are the differences and similarities between the two metrics:

  • Both CSAT and CES are quantitative representations of customer experiences
  • Both CSAT and CES provide insight into how your support team is meeting customer expectations
  • Both CSAT and CES represent ways companies can increase profits by improving customer satisfaction
  • Most companies need to focus on both CSAT and CES to increase customer retention 
  • Both CES and CSAT are predictors of customer churn
  • Unlike CSAT, CES is not a direct measure of customer satisfaction (though it has indirect effects on customer satisfaction)
  • CSAT can reflect the overall satisfaction a customer has with your brand, whereas CES is only used to measure the effort a customer had to expend in specific instances or interactions with your product or service
  • While CSAT can be both a relational and transactional metric, CES is only a transactional metric
  • CSAT surveys can be sent out both after a specific interaction or on a fixed schedule, whereas CES metrics are only sent out after a specific interaction between a customer and a company

Wrapping things up

Both CSAT and CES are important metrics for measuring customer satisfaction and the overall customer experience. While both metrics provide insight into how well a support team is meeting customer expectations, they differ in scope and frequency. CSAT measures overall satisfaction with a product, support, or feature, whereas CES measures the effort required by the customer to have their problems solved.

By understanding the differences and similarities between CSAT and CES, companies can gather more comprehensive data and gain insight into how to enhance the customer experience. By utilizing tools like Fullview, support teams can solve customer issues faster and drive up satisfaction scores, ultimately leading to improved customer loyalty and business success.


Shifa Rahaman

Content Marketing Manager


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