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What Is Customer Effort Score (CES)?

Sơn Vũ vào Jul 26, 2023

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To show that one experience is better than the others, businesses are using various metrics to better the experiences for customers – namely NPS (Net Promoter Score), CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score), and/or CES (Customer Effort Score). The latter – CES – is especially important to create the type of experience you want as it helps by pinpointing the friction points where your customers struggle the most.

Realizing the importance of CES in delivering optimal customer experience, in this article, we’ll really get into it and explore how businesses can measure CES and use the data to improve their customer experiences.

What is CES

CES, or Customer Effort Score, is a metric that measures the amount of effort a customer has to put into using a product or service. It is a crucial tool for businesses looking to improve their customer experience as it can provide insight into the pain points customers are experiencing. By measuring CES, businesses can identify areas of improvement and take steps to streamline their processes, ultimately delivering a better customer experience. 

Differences between CES 1.0 and CES 2.0

In case you’ve been seeing CES 2.0 being thrown around, it might be worth it to get into the differences between these two types. 
Basically put, CES 2.0 is the upgraded version of CES 1.0 – it allows for more nuances, and the questions are formed as a hypothesis instead of a question. For example, a question such as “How easy was Filum Customer 360 for you?” could be phrased as “To what extent do you agree with this statement, Filum Customer 360 was easy to use”, with offered choices ranging from 1 (very easy) to 7 (very difficult).

How to calculate CES

Typically you’ll see CES in the form of numbers such as 3, 4, or even 7. This number depends on the number of questions allowed in your CES surveys, but typically, your CES will be calculated by using the following formula: 

CES = Total sum of responses / Number of responses

For example, say you have a survey asking the following question:
How easy was it to use Filum Dynamic Feedback to send out automated surveys?
The choices here range from 1 (quite difficult ) to 5 (easy). Let’s say we managed to collect a total of 50 responses and a score of 150 total, our average CES would be: 150/50 = 3. This score is about average but ideally, you’ll want to aim for something like a score of 3.5 - 4.5. You don’t want a perfect score of 5 either, as that would likely mean that your customers are not taking the surveys seriously enough.
It's important to note that while CES provides a useful metric for measuring customer effort, it should be used in conjunction with other metrics such as CSAT and NPS to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the customer experience.

The importance of CES in measuring customer experience 

Companies have been using CES for quite some time now, and it’s for a good reason. The benefits of CES can be summarized in the following points: 
  • Predictor of customer loyalty: Research has shown that reducing customer effort is a key driver of customer loyalty. Customers who have a low-effort experience are more likely to continue doing business with a company and recommend it to others. This means that companies with high CES scores are likely to have higher customer retention rates and more positive word-of-mouth recommendations.
  • Actionable insights: By analyzing CES data, companies can identify trends and patterns in customer feedback and take action to improve the customer experience. For example, if customers consistently report high effort in a particular area, the company can focus on making changes to that area to reduce customer effort.
  • Complementing other customer experience metrics: While CES is a useful metric on its own, it's often used in combination with other metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) to provide a more complete picture of the customer experience. For example, a company may use NPS to measure overall customer loyalty and use CES to identify specific areas for improvement.
By looking at successful companies and their examples, you can see how good practices are constantly adapted to reduce customer effort at a breakneck speed, and this means that to lose out on this race means losing customers to your competition as well. 
Delta Airlines
Delta Airlines was one of the first airlines to implement a proactive notification system that alerts passengers of changes in their flights, such as delays or cancellations, via text message or email. This system helps reduce customer effort and improved satisfaction by keeping passengers informed and reducing the need to contact the airline for information.
You might notice that this has now become a standardized practice for most airlines, as a good initiative by a company is likely to be imitated by others to deliver better customer experiences.

How CES works

Like most other metrics, CES involves sending out surveys to customers and having them answer the questions to collect data that can be converted into meaningful numbers. About CES specifically, the following points can help you understand better CES works, as well as a brief overview of how you can carry out a CES survey and deliver actionable insights: 
  • The CES question: The CES question typically asks customers to rate the level of effort required to resolve an issue or complete a transaction with a company. For example, the question might be phrased as "How much effort did you personally have to put forth to handle your request?" Customers are then asked to rate their effort on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being "Very easy" and 5 being "Very difficult".
  • Scoring system: Once customers have responded to the CES question, their scores are tallied and averaged. A higher average score indicates that customers had to put in more effort to resolve their issues or complete their transactions, while a lower average score indicates that customers had an easier experience.
  • Benchmarking: To get the most value out of CES, companies typically benchmark their scores against industry averages or their own historical data. This allows them to compare their customer effort levels to other companies in their industry and track improvements over time.
  • Actionable insights: Once CES data has been collected and analyzed, companies can use it to identify areas where they can reduce customer effort and improve the overall customer experience. For example, if customers consistently report high effort in a certain area, the company might focus on streamlining that process to make it easier for customers.

When to use: NPS vs CSAT vs CES

Now that you’ve got a good understanding of what CES does, let’s look at how it compares to other metrics such as NPS (Net Promoter Score) or CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score):


Helps determine customer loyalty in a long-term and actionable way 
Gives insights into levels of satisfaction at a specific touchpoint
Gives insight into customer effort at a specific interaction but doesn't 
Measure and help boost customer loyalty 
Measure and help boost customer satisfaction
Measure and help reduce customer effort
When to use
Relationship survey at regular intervals 
- Post-purchases
- Essential experiences that require high satisfaction
- Product onboarding 
- Ticket/request submitting 
- RMA experiences
Ideally, you’ll want to use all three of these metrics – but at the right time of course. Here’s a good example of how an insurance company uses all three of these metrics to boost customer loyalty and ensure optimal customer experience:

Implementing CES: In-depth Tips

You probably already have a general idea of how you can work on executing a survey to measure CES – but the devil is in the details. Here are a few tips that you can use when carrying out a CES survey to achieve better and more consistent results: 
  • Keep the question simple and specific: The CES question should be clear and specific to the interaction or process you are measuring. Avoid asking broad or vague questions that may confuse customers.
  • Choose the right scale: Select a scale that makes sense for your business and aligns with your goals. A 1-5 scale is commonly used, but you can also use a 1-7 or a different scale that works for your business.
  • Survey customers at the right time: Determine the optimal timing for surveying customers to get the most accurate feedback on their effort level. This could be immediately after an interaction, or at a later point in time when the experience is still fresh in their minds.
  • Be consistent: Use the same CES question and scale consistently over time to ensure accurate tracking and comparison of data.
  • Follow up with customers: Follow up with customers who report high efforts to gather more detailed feedback and insights. This will help you identify specific pain points and make necessary changes.
  • Share results and insights: Share your CES scores and insights with stakeholders, including senior management, customer service representatives, and frontline employees. This will help to build support and alignment around reducing customer effort and improving the overall customer experience.
  • Take action: Use the data and insights gathered through CES to make tangible improvements to processes and interactions that reduce customer effort. This will demonstrate to customers that their feedback is valued and lead to long-term loyalty and satisfaction.
Remember, the goal is to use CES to drive action and make real improvements that benefit your customers and your business. With the data collected with CES, you can then work on analyzing and using the data in a meaningful way.

Limitations of CES

CES isn’t the end-it-all metric that solves all of your problems. For instance, these are the limitations that you might face when using CES:

1. Limited scope & context 

CES only measures the satisfaction of customers based on their recent interaction with a company. It does not take into account the overall experience of the customer with the brand/company or the context behind a customer’s satisfaction/dissatisfaction.

2. Limited to transactional experiences

CES is best suited to measure satisfaction for transactional experiences, such as purchasing a product or service. It may not be as effective in measuring satisfaction for more complex interactions or long-term relationships with customers.

3. Potential bias

The CES score may be biased by factors such as the wording of the question or the timing of the survey. For example, customers who have just made a purchase may be more likely to give a higher score than those who have not.
Overall, CES can be a useful metric for measuring customer satisfaction, but it should be used in conjunction with other metrics and qualitative feedback to gain a more comprehensive understanding of customer experience.


It’s no doubt that the Customer Effort Score (CES) is a valuable metric for businesses to measure customer satisfaction and loyalty. A high CES score is indicative of a positive customer experience and can lead to increased customer loyalty and advocacy. As such, businesses that prioritize the measurement and improvement of CES are likely to see improved customer satisfaction, retention, and revenue.
Good luck with getting that ideal customer effort score! And in case you’re looking for an efficient tool to send out surveys, Filum AI’s Dynamic Feedback is one of the best-in-class tools on the market to streamline feedback operations.

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