What you’ll find in this article:
- What is Customer Effort Score (CES)?
- What is User Effort Score (UES)?
- How do CES and UES work?
- CES vs. UES
- How to get the most from your results
- Pros and Cons of CES
- Using CES/UES with Qualaroo
What is Customer Effort Score (CES)?
Customer Effort Score (CES) is a customer service and customer support metric that measures the amount of effort a customer had to put forth in order to get their issue resolved. In other words, CES helps you understand how easy it is for your customers to do business with you. How easily can they accomplish what they are trying to do or receive the support they need?the issue they’re experiencing?
Unlike most customer experience questionnaires, Customer Effort Score was actually discovered by a team of researchers rather than developed with a pre-meditated goal in mind. This research was conducted in 2010 by a division of the Corporate Executive Board (formerly CEB, now Gartner) called the Customer Contact Council. This study surveyed over 75,000 people who had recently experienced a customer service interaction alongside customer service leaders in order to understand which activities most increased customer loyalty.
The results were not only shocking, they also ran counter to almost everything previously written about improving customer loyalty. To summarize their main findings: they found that delighting customers was nowhere near as significant as minimizing the amount of effort they needed to use in order to resolve their issue. In other words, wowing your customers with all the bells and whistles is not as influential in customer loyalty as saving your customers time and effort proved to be. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, “Of the customers who reported low effort, 94% expressed an intention to repurchase, and 88% said they would increase their spending.”
What is User Effort Score (UES)?
User Effort Score is a variation of Customer Effort Score that we developed in-house. The idea is that if CES can prove to be such an insightful CX metric, then its counterpart UES which measures the amount of effort a user has to apply when completing a task will be a similarly revealing UX metric. While it will not measure user loyalty as CES does, it can be a strong indicator for usability, user sentiment, and how likely your user is to be engaged and satisfied by your product.
How do CES and UES work?
Both questionnaires are placed onto a 5 or 7-point Likert scale that asks them to rate their agreement with a statement of your design.
As your description text, both questionnaires should read as follows.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with following statement:
Your actual question text will contain the example that most fits what it is you are trying to understand. Let’s dig in a little bit further into what types of questions make most sense for CES versus UES.
The CES Questionnaire
Because CES is intended to measure the amount of customer effort applied, your statements should all relate back to how easy it was for your customer to have their issue resolved. Here are some examples of what we mean.
- [Company name] made it easy for me to get help with my issue.
- [Company name] made it easy for me to find a solution to my issue.
- It was easy for me to get help with my problem.
As a follow-up question, we recommend asking “What is the reason for your answer?” in order to gather more context for your customer’s response.
The UES Questionnaire
When it comes to crafting the right UES statement, try to stay scenario-focused or task-oriented. What goal was your user trying to accomplish and how easy did your website, app or product make it for them to achieve this goal? Below are some examples of UES statements.
- Booking.com made it easy for me to book a hotel room for my holidays.
- TripAdvisor made it easy for me to rate my restaurant experience.
- Qualaroo made it easy for me to understand the experience of my users.
- Amazon made it easy for me to buy items I desired.
As you will see, each of the statements is hyper-specific to what the company itself is trying to help users accomplish. For that reason alone, these statements will require more input on your part than the CES questionnaire.
Similar to CES, a natural follow-up question asking users for the reason behind their answer choice may provide you helpful explanations about what’s going wrong or right in their experience.
CES vs. UES: When to use each and why
When to Use CES
Customer Effort Score is most effectively used directly after your customers interacted in any way with your company’s customer success team or after they request customer support. Some examples include:
- After a live chat write-in seeking support
- At the end of an email support exchange
- While your customer is browsing through your help center articles or support forum
- After a customer has sent in a support ticket
- Once an issue has been resolved via direct social media messages.
- Following a phone call with a customer service rep
Placing the CES questionnaire at these strategic points can allow you to keep an eye on how your different customer service touch points are impacting your CES results. However, depending on the channel, you may want to phrase the question differently. For example, you might want to know if the live chat or support ticket function of your website makes it easy to get help with the issue. By comparison, you might be more interested in how easy it is for customers to find a solution via the help center or support forum.
Why should you consider using CES?
Apart from being an effective tool for evaluating your different avenues for customer success, CES can benefit you in a number of additional ways.
If you are already collecting metrics about customer experience or satisfaction, but it doesn’t appear to be telling the full story, measuring the level of customer effort required might reveal the missing piece of the puzzle.
Uncovering which part of the customer journey is going awry enables you and your team to proactively intervene as early as possible. Doing so can help aid your reputation management efforts before an upset customer takes to social media. At best, addressing these issues might help you catch those users who are at risk of churn.
If you’re using Qualaroo, you can also conclude your questionnaire with a Call-to-Action button for customers who need troubleshooting support. This can help facilitate the customer self-service experience. Most people want to resolve an issue on their own before they decide to invest additional time and connect with customer support.
If customers are able to find the information they are looking for within your help center, they will ultimately feel more empowered by your product. As an added bonus, this tactic may even help reduce the amount of support tickets received by your customer support team.
When to use UES
As mentioned above, UES will prove the most useful when you are trying to evaluate how easy it is (or isn’t) for a user to complete specific tasks or take certain actions on your product or service. For that reason, it makes sense to administer the UES Questionnaire to both users who have successfully accomplished their goal on your app or website and those who have not. Gathering data from both groups will help ensure that your responses are not biased and that you have a fair opportunity to discover which users find it easy, which ones don’t and why.
If you’re using Qualaroo already, you’ll have a number of targeting options available to you to streamline this process. For example, those who have effectively used your product as it was designed might need to click on a certain element to do so or they may be routed to another URL on your site.
Users who are unable to accomplish what they are trying to do might simply abandon your site out of frustration or worse, go check out another competitor. If your product isn’t as transactional as that though, you might find groups of users are spending an abnormal amount of time on certain pages or clicking around in circles trying to figure it out. To capture insights from these groups, you can target by exit intent or based on the amount of time you’ve flagged as abnormal.
Why should you consider using UES?
While there are a variety of questionnaires that can help you understand more about usability or ease of use, the UES questionnaire, much like CES is a quick and straightforward way to determine how much effort your product or service is demanding of users.
Unlike other usability questionnaires, UES has the capability to be diagnostic because of how customizable the statements are. Since you are trying to gauge user effort around specific actions, low scores would indicate that improvements are needed around this aspect of the user experience.
How to get the most from your results
Because there are different ways to conduct CES and UES, not much has been written on official score calculation or industry benchmarks. While an agreement scale correlates higher numbers with more positive responses, some versions of this questionnaire represent lower numbers as less effort required.
For example, other versions suggest asking “How much effort did you personally have to put forth to handle your request?” with 1 labeled as very low effort and 5 or 7 labeled as very high effort. This type of scale would produce inverse results from how we’ve presented the questionnaire so far.
Although we don’t recommend obsessing over a target score, we do recommend tracking your results over time so that you can begin to create internal benchmarks you want to maintain or continuously improve upon.
When it comes to making sense of your results, here are some useful tips for Likert scale reporting that can help you get the most out of your data.
- Calculate distributions, medians, and modes, not just averages.
- If you have a bunch of extreme responses on both ends of the spectrum, averages will suggest that your respondents are neutral about your product, which isn’t exactly the case.
- Distribution graphs will show you exactly how many users are providing each answer choice and is a quick way to visualize the data.
- The median value will actually show you which direction your responses are skewing in a way that averages will not.
- Determining the mode (or most frequently occurring response), will show you which value on the Likert agreement scale resonated most amongst participants for a given data set.
- Keep potential respondent biases in mind when reviewing results.
- Social desirability bias - Most people tend to give answers that they consider as socially acceptable rather than being fully honest.
- If your results are overwhelmingly positive, dig in further by reaching out to some of your respondents for in-depth user research interviews.
- Central tendency bias - Most people avoid choosing extreme responses such as 1 “Strongly disagree” or 7 “Strongly agree”
- If you find that the majority of your responses are neutral, you might consider how the central tendency bias is at work here and consider switching the statement to a question.
Pros and Cons of CES
- CES is a stronger predictor for repurchasing behavior and increased spending than both NPS and CSAT.
- CES can actually improve your customer success team’s workflow since they’ll be able to:
- Identify which channels need closer monitoring.
- Intervene with customers who need immediate support
- Improve and further utilize existing self-service solutions
- It doesn’t take much time for users to answer or to begin asking!
- Depending on how much you customize your statements, you can get highly specific data down to the transactional level for more actionable results.
- Not much has been written about score standardization or industry benchmarks.
- CES will not provide you with a holistic view of your customer’s relationship with you or their perception of your business.
- CES is really only effective if you’re asking for feedback right after the interaction takes place.
Using CES/UES with Qualaroo
Start Running these questionnaires with Qualaroo in 3 simple steps!
- Select the right channel.
- Decide where you want to run your survey (desktop, mobile web, prototype, mobile app or link) and select “Choose Template.”
- Don’t worry–you can run this survey on as many channels as your organization needs by creating additional surveys so that you cover the different domains your organization spans.
- Select “CES” or “UES” from our list of pre-vetted templates or type the template name into the search bar.
- The main structure of these questionnaires have already been entered for you.
- All you have to do is personalize the question text to fit the context of your business.
Recommended targeting options
In terms of setting up the targeting with Qualaroo, you can use the pre-selected options that come with the template. However, when it comes to targeting for CES, consider reviewing your entire customer journey map in order to decide which customer interactions, support-driven or otherwise make the most sense for you to conclude with a CES questionnaire. This may mean that you will actually create several Nudges to show in multiple locations where customer interactions are occurring. Luckily, templates will help streamline this process, and doing so will also allow you to have a clearer picture of which distinct touchpoints lead to which exact CES results. As for UES, review our suggestions above to get some initial best practices on how to target for User Effort Score.
If you are interested in learning more about all the options available within Qualaroo’s Targeting Section, please visit this section of our Help Center.
Before and After you begin collecting responses
- Integrate Qualaroo with Zapier or Slack to ensure the right people are notified of customer feedback.
- If you are using a live chat service as part of your customer service stack, explore Qualaroo’s integration options with some of the best known tools, like Intercom.
- Analyze your results to determine which patterns or trends are emerging.
- Be sure to address and prioritize red flags promptly or if need be, follow-up with outliers to gather more descriptive and qualitative feedback on their responses. This can be done by sending a follow-up survey or by reaching out to see if they have any interest in an interview.
- If you have a central database where you are aggregating user or customer data, Qualaroo’s integrations (i.e. Segment, Tableau, Adobe Analytics and more) can help you funnel responses seamlessly for further analysis in context.
- If you are on our Growth, Turbo Growth, or Enterprise Plan, you can take advantage of our REST Reporting API to send Qualaroo response data to any endpoint of your choosing.
Products that are sticky or that see high rates of adoption and engagement have often achieved this because they are easy to use. Even when issues arise, high-quality customer support that makes finding a solution both accessible and convenient will help strengthen your customer’s loyalty. The Customer Effort Score and User Effort Score Questionnaires offer a unique and rapid way to uncover how effectively your company is achieving these goals. More importantly, CES and UES can empower you with the insights you need in order to make it easier for your customers and users to achieve their goals.
If you have any additional questions or would like to get in touch with a customer success manager about setting up this template, please submit a request here.