Customer Effort


A key performance metric which determines how much effort your customers have to exert to complete a task or resolve an issue. In a complaints scenario, it might be the effort required to raise and / or resolve a complaint.


By knowing your Customer Effort Score, you allow yourself the opportunity to see what and where service improvements can be made within your operations and their interactions with customers.


The Customer Effort Score metric is recognised as a strong predictor of future customer loyalty, i.e. those who express low effort was required at considerably more likely to remain loyal than those who expressed difficulty.

Again, in a complaints environment, it is common for customers to highlight the need to make multiple contacts, be transferred across departments, repeat information, etc. – all are seen as making the raising and resolution of a complaint more difficult, resulting in a negative customer experience and driving them towards the exit door.


Simply ask your customers how easy they found it to (a) raise their complaint, and (b) resolve their complaint.


1. There a couple of different approaches you can use in terms of questioning, both use a 7pt scale:


The first option is to ask your customers to agree or disagree with the following statements:


a) (Organisation) Made it easy for me to raise my complaint
b) (Organisation) Made it easy for me to resolve my complaint

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Strongly Disagree Disagree Somewhat Disagree Neither / Nor Somewhat Agree Agree Strongly Agree

Where customers Disagree with the statement, we capture verbatim around how (Organisation)


2) could have made it easier for the customer to raise / resolve their complaint. In this way, we seek the customer to offer solutions to their current pains.


The second option asks customers to indicate the degree of effort required in response to the following questions:


a) How easy or difficult was it for you personally to raise your complaint?
b) How easy or difficult was it for you personally to resolve your complaint?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Extremely Easy Very Easy Fairly Easy Neither / Nor Fairly Difficult Very Difficult Extremely Difficult

Similarly to the 1st example, where customers express difficulty raising or resolving their complaint, we capture verbatim around how [Organisation] could reduce customer effort.

NB: Note in the 2nd option how the scale has changed with negative expressions at the higher end of the scale. Thus, the lower the average CES reported with this approach, the better it reflects on your organisation.


Very straightforward, we find the average of all your individual customer effort scores:


Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 20.51.03

NB: As well as providing you with your Overall CES, we also provide clients with the distribution of their individual scores too – in this way you can understand the proportions of customers at each point on the 7pt scale. This is useful when understanding where to focus and how to move those customers with low scores ‘up the scale’ towards (at least) 5.


Once you have a CES, its critical to understand the relationship between effort and Customer Loyalty. To do this, we correlate Customer Effort Scores with key Loyalty metrics, including NPS:


• Likelihood to remain (i.e. retention)
• Likelihood to buy additional products (i.e. share of wallet)
• Likelihood to recommend to friends & family (i.e. advocacy / NPS)


According to a study conducted by CEB, a best practice insight & technology company based in the US, customers who have a CES of 5 are 22% more loyal than those with a score of 1.


In a study delivered for an General Insurance client, we saw 85% of those who expressed difficulty resolving their complaint suggesting a high likelihood to defect. Among those who expressed ease resolving their complaint, the figure dropped to 24% – though still reasonably high, this figure might suggest (a) some elements of the complaint experience could have been more effortless, or (b) reflect a cohort who might regularly switch insurance products.


• Consider delving deeper into your data to identify where customer pain points exist, i.e. where too much effort has been exerted by customers.
• Compare service channels to establish whether some interactions are more effortless than others.
• Dig deeper into your research feedback to understand what customers are suggesting could be done to reduce effort.

Customer Disloyalty


• Multiple contacts to resolve
• Generic service
• Repeating information
• Additional effort to resolve
• Being transferred across teams / departments
• Lack of staff empathy
• Staff not empowered / trained to recognise and / or resolve customer complaints

Too much effort drives disloyalty

• This is a good indicator of future customer loyalty.
• By focusing on maintaining this level of CES, you are more likely to retain customers and grow customer loyalty.
• While moving customers from 5 to 7 delivers less of a loyalty uplift than moving low scoring customers up to 5, analysing their suggestions as to how the experience could yet be more effortless may offer further opportunity for smaller, more incremental changes – which will strengthen the customer relationship!
• The same CEB study referenced earlier suggests that moving customer from 5 to 7 only increases loyalty by 2%.

At The Research Locker, we believe you don’t have to delight your customers – particularly within a complaint environment! With our consumer hats firmly on, we advise clients that a focus on ensuring complaints resolution is quick, pain-free and effortless for customers is a better use of time and resource (but also costs less!).

Customer Delight

Consider Effort from your customer’s perspective:


Are there any aspects of your Customer Experience where Customer Effort could be reduced?