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Customer Effort Score 2 – Is it easy?

Jim Tincher Jim Tincher 12/18/2014

Effort is the bane of your customer experience. Or, as I like to say, “Thinking is bad.” But is customer effort the right measurement to use?

First, an overview. The CEB created the Customer Effort Score (CES) as a transactional measurement. You can see my early post here. Its original phrasing was “How much effort did you personally have to put forth to handle your request?” and a lot of blogs still point to this confusing phrase. Luckily, the CEB reworded it to “The company made it easy for me to handle my issue” in the CES 2.0.

Unfortunately, they haven’t taken the next step to call it the Customer Easy Score, which is much more fun to say.

CES–What You Should Know

The CES is a good way to measure your transactions. Unfortunately, I’ve run across a number of organizations who want to use it as a relationship score – but it just doesn’t work in an annual measurement. For that, I recommend using the traditional “ease of doing business,” which is a broader statement, but easier (ha!) for your customers to use to rate you.

Effort = customer churn. There’s a belief out there in the Service Recovery Paradox – that if you create an issue for your customers and do a really good job of resolving their issue, they’ll be more loyal than if they never had the problem in the first place. A quick search reveals a ton of articles advocating this belief. I’ve even talked with call center managers who have an unwavering belief in its power. But it’s bogus. A meta-analysis should have put this to rest. But comforting bad beliefs die hard.

In fact, it’s silly. Do you really believe your customers will be happy being forced to call you to fix an issue, no matter what the outcome? The CEB showed the answer was clearly no. Their research (see graph on top right) showed that a support call is four times more likely to decrease loyalty than to increase it.

BT took the CES one step further, creating the “Net Easy Score.” Similar to the Net Promoter Score, they use the top 2 scores (on a 7-point scale) to represent easy, the bottom 3 as difficult, and subtract the difficult from the easy. In other words, if 40% of your customers give you a 6 or 7 (they reverse the scales) for an easy experience, and 30% give you a 1, 2 or 3, your Net Easy Score is 10 (40% – 30%). BT found that customers who gave the experience an “Easy” score were 40% less likely to churn than those who rated the experience as easy.

Is the Customer Effort or Net Easy Score right for you?  It’s compelling. There isn’t one score that makes sense for everybody. But one bank found that simplicity (an alternative to easy) was their best predictor of referrals – even better than likelihood to recommend. So it’s certainly worth considering as part of your measurement strategy.

Learn More

There’s a webinar that I conducted with nanoRep where I lay out more details on measuring and reducing effort. I end that webinar with four steps to create a simpler experience:

  1. Measure effort. I wouldn’t use it as my only transactional measure, but include it.
  2. Map. If you’re getting low scores, using customer journey maps to find out why from your customer’s view.
  3. Target. Once you’ve mapped the experience target the top sources of effort.
  4. Solve. Use empathy mapping and other tools to determine how you want your customers to feel (like it was easy!) – and use this to guide your improvements.

I hope you find this advice easy to follow…

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