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Frequently Asked Questions about Customer Effort Score

The concept of customer effort, developed by CCC, is the best predictor of loyalty for the service organization.  In 2008, CCC created the Customer Effort Score, a customer experience metric that gauges the ease of a customer interaction, enabling companies to track effort from the customer perspective.

CES asks respondents, “How much effort did you personally put forth to handle your request?” Answers are on a five point scale from 1 (very low effort) to 5 (very high effort). A recent member poll found that 64% of respondents now measure effort in their organizations. Of these, a majority use the CES metric.

As CCC blog readers, this metric shouldn’t be new to you. Recently, my colleague wrote a blog about how to use CES to surface trends and provide actionable insights. As simple as the question is, however, the implementation of CES into the post-service survey can be problematic sometimes. We have worked with many member companies to ensure they have properly used the effort question and worded it in the most effective way.

Below are several frequently asked questions about the metric itself:

Question 1: On what scale should CES be measured?

CCC measures CES on a scale of 1 to 5. However, we’ve seen companies successfully use a 7-point scale as well. Whether to use a 5-point or 7-point scale will depend on the scale of other questions in your survey (e.g., customer satisfaction). We typically recommend maintaining consistency in scale across all questions. Moreover, we encourage companies to use an odd-numbered scale because it will allow an option of “neutral” or “moderate effort” in the middle, which is more complete.

Question 2: Customers are sometimes confused with the scale and choose “5” (very high effort) when they actually mean very low effort, or choose “1” (very low effort) vice versa. What should I do?

There is a simple fix which is to reverse the scale, with “1” being very high effort and “5” being very low effort. That won’t necessarily create new problems because we believe customers who rated correctly at the first place will still choose the right answer with the scale reversed.

If you are still concerned with the issue, we recommend you do A/B testing on the wording for your customers. You can have some customers complete the survey with “5” being high effort and have others complete the survey with “5” being low effort. By comparing the results from the effort question with other metrics (e.g., CSAT, issue resolution), you should be able to see a clear picture of whether using “5” as high or low effort makes sense to most customers.

Question 3: Can I change the question to “How easy was it for you to…”?

CCC actually does not recommend changing the wording of the effort question to “How easy was it for you to….” because we think “easy” lends itself to a positive connotation and bias, whereas “effort” is a more neutral, if not even slightly negative, word.




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