No customer wants their experience with a business to take more effort than is required. That’s not to say that every experience needs to be rapid and non-personal: some convenience-focused businesses, such as paying for groceries, may be more transactional than other experiential enterprises like luxury retail. However, the experience should be as seamless and enjoyable as possible.
Measuring this is the goal of the Customer Effort Score (CES), a metric for gauging the ease of request resolution and overall customer interactions. For more than a decade, CES has been the gold standard when it comes to this particular, all-important measure. Asking users to select between an option between (and including) “Strongly Disagree” and “Strongly Agree,” it looks at whether the company in question made it easy to handle a specific issue.
While that might sound simple as a question (its quick-and-easy format is sort of the point), CES is incredibly valuable information that can be useful in all kinds of ways to a business. Want to know what a few of the top ones might be? You’ve come to the right place.
A positive CES can help build brand loyalty
People are busy. They lead complex lives with continuous demands for their attention. That’s why CES is a great way of gathering customer feedback with a simple, one-touch method that doesn’t require them to spend large amounts of valuable time detailing a transaction that, ultimately, should be as seamless as possible. It’s this desire to make transactions as easy as possible that is what really drives brand loyalty.
According to research, 96% of customers who have interactions that can count as high effort become disloyal to that brand over time. By contrast, only 9% who report low effort interactions become disloyal. Why? Because customers are already giving their money or time to a particular brand by virtue of being customers; why do they also want that process to be difficult? Answer: They don’t. Reducing the effort a customer has to exert to get their particular problem taken care of and solved is a higher indicator of their future loyalty than their surprise and delight with a particular service.
It makes customers feel special
You might worry that asking customers for feedback on their experience is being unnecessarily intrusive. In fact, customers typically respond well to being asked this, not least because it has the opportunity to improve their future interactions with the business. In short, gathering CES data shows that a company cares.
It’s also a good way to keep people engaged with a brand, particularly in scenarios in which it’s feasible to follow up afterwards via email, text or WhatsApp message. Enterprises want to promote loyalty to the brand and build trust. This is a great way of doing exactly that.
It can discover pain points you didn’t know about
Your job as a business owner is, ultimately, to solve pain points for customers. Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar retail business or a software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendor, the business itself should address a fundamental need on the part of customers. But within their retail journey, there are likely to be other, smaller pain points you can address as part of the journey to a seamless customer experience. Collecting CES data can help identify those pain points, which may help identify tedious parts of the overall user experience for customers.
It can predict customer behavior
CES data can be used to predict broader customer behavior. It could, for example, help reveal when customers are bored of a particular part of the user experience, such as certain trends, prompting you to change them up. Particularly with connected digital businesses, it could also be utilized alongside other behavioral analytics tools to predict when customers are either satisfied or dissatisfied with the brand as a whole. That in turn could help with one of the most important metrics going:
Predicting (and reducing) customer churn
Customer churn refers to the rate of customers who stop using your business. A low churn rate means that, while you might continue to add customers, your existing ones stay put. A high churn rate means that customers don’t hang around for long. Even if you manage to recruit new customers to replace the departing ones, this means having to fight hard simply to stay where you are.
Because CES is collected immediately after the customer has had a particular interaction with your business, it means you can act quickly to try and reverse any negative experiences. That may warrant a personalized follow-up email or phone call to the customer, apologizing for a poor experience, ensuring you are working to improve, and possibly offering them some form of compensation. This same information can be used to act quickly from a staff training perspective, rapidly making the changes necessary while the details are fresh in everyone’s mind.