Every brand strives to earn customer loyalty. However, even if your customers are generally satisfied with your brand, too much effort along the customer journey can reduce satisfaction and lead to attrition. Gartner states that 96% of customers with a high-effort service interaction become more disloyal, compared to 9% who have a low-effort experience. For this reason, CES, or Customer Effort Score, is a vital KPI for improving customer experiences, increasing loyalty, and reducing churn.
Gartner first defined CES in 2010 as a customer experience survey metric that enables service organizations to measure the ease of customer interaction and resolution during requests. CES is measured by asking a question and scoring the customer’s response on a scale from 1 to 7, with 1 representing the highest level of disagreement with the statement. Ultimately, CES is calculated by the percentage of customers that at least “somewhat agree” (a score of 5 or higher) that the brand made it easy to resolve their problem. A lower CES may indicate a higher level of customer satisfaction. While other KPIs are excellent for measuring specific aspects of the customer experience, CES allows brands to analyze how they might improve the customer journey as a whole and offer a more seamless overall experience.
Imagine, for example, that a customer has trouble checking an order status. He switches from one channel to another in hopes of finding this information on his own. In the end, he gives up and calls a customer service agent at the company to ask for this information.
If the customer is later given a survey to measure CES, he may indicate through his responses that he made many efforts to get an answer to his question. He lost time and became frustrated, although his problem was eventually solved in the end. While this customer might remain loyal, his CES would likely be high and should serve as a warning to the company that he might leave the brand in the future. Alternatively, he may abandon the brand right then because of his negative experience.
Every brand needs to take action to reduce CES and improve customer satisfaction. Here are some critical steps to consider:
Brands should aim to resolve customer problems during the first interaction. FCR, or first contact resolution, is therefore an important metric to manage in order to lower CES. The less often customers have to contact you for service, the less effort they need to make.
Give your agents access to the full context of a customer’s history. This reduces a customer’s need to repeat information, which only wastes time and creates frustration. Use a contact center software solution integrated with your CRM or ERP application to provide agents with all the data they need and the capacity to make updates in real-time.
Make it easy for customers to contact you on their preferred channels. To achieve this, your brand must create a smooth omnichannel experience. If agents are active across multiple channels, they must be able to easily access the history of past customer interactions across all channels so that they can continue every customer conversation seamlessly without asking the customer to repeat information.
Agents can reduce customer effort even after the customer has requested help. Agents can assist customers during service interactions by proactively looking for information that the customer was unable to find, reducing customer effort in the process.
Always take customer feedback seriously. Surveys should include open-ended questions that allow customers to freely express their concerns. Companies may also look at service transcripts to identify why people needed support in the first place. This information may lead to better training and communication processes for multiple departments within the company.
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes by creating customer journey maps. By simulating a customer experience—such as making a purchase—your company can identify pain points ahead of time and solve issues proactively.
Measure CES effectively by sending surveys at critical points along the customer journey. For example, send surveys right after a service interaction or when a new customer signs up for a new subscription after a trial or makes any new purchase. Some companies even measure CES on a smaller scale, such as during a customer’s navigation of the company website (how easy was it to find a product, make a purchase, find a chat window, etc.).
By making a strong effort to create better customer experiences, you will reduce your customers’ effort in the process and win their loyalty.
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