Customer effort score calculation and analysis

The Customer Effort Score is one of the most popular single-question customer metrics, alongside the traditional Customer Satisfaction measure and the NPS. Experts suggest adopting a multi-dimensional approach to predicting customer behavior. As part of such approach, good customer effort scores correlate with increased levels of customer repurchase and, therefore, retention. As a result, it’s worth considering adding the CES in your arsenal of customer metrics. In this article, we’ll dig a bit deeper into customer effort score calculation and analysis and discuss implications for your business.

What is Customer Effort?

Before we go any further, it is important to understand what customer effort is. In very simple terms, customer effort refers to how hard a customer has to try to get an issued resolved. But, why does customer effort matter?

In 2010, Harvard Business Review, published an article titled Stop trying to delight your customers. Whether or not you agree with its premise, the article sprung the discussion around gaining loyalty simply by solving customer problems and presented some staggering statistical data – 56% of customers report having to re-explain an issue, 57% report having to switch from the web to the phone, 62% report having to repeatedly contact the company to resolve an issue.

The numbers show that more than one in two customers have to expend significant effort to get an issue resolved. This is bad news because according to the same research, 48% of customers who had a negative customer service experience told 10 or more others. This is where customer effort comes into play. The outcome of customers having to exert high effort affects the overall customer experience and negatively impacts business performance.

What is Customer Effort Score?

The customer effort score is a metric that quantifies the ease of the interaction between the customer and your company. CES surveys are most commonly deployed

  1. After a customer touchpoint that has led to product purchase or subscription
  2. Immediately after a customer service interaction
  3. To track the overall customer experience with your product or brand

CES calculation aims to measure exerted customer effort and is considered one of the easiest and most cost-efficient customer experience metrics.

Customer Effort Score Calculation

When it comes to customer effort score calculation, there are different methods utilised across the business sphere. In the following paragraphs we present the most common ones.

On a scale of 1 to 5

This was the original CES calculation scale proposed by its creators back in 2010 when the metric was first introduced. Customers are asked to answer the question “On a scale of 1 to 5, how much effort did you have to put forth to handle your issue?

1 = Very low effort
2 = Low effort
3 = Neutral
4 = High effort
5 = Very high effort

The CES is derived by dividing the sum of all individual customer effort scores by the number of customers who provided a response. This method results in a score from 1 to 5 and the lower the score, the better.

On a scale of 1 to 7

This second method represents an evolution in customer effort score calculation with slightly different question wording and scale numbering. As a result, the question is structured as “On a scale of 1 to 7, how easy was it to get your issue resolved?”

1 = Extremely easy
2 = Very easy
3 = Fairly easy
4 = Neither
5 = Fairly difficult
6 = Very difficult
7 = Extremely difficult

Similarly, the CES is calculated by dividing the sum of all individual customer effort scores by the number of customers who provided a response. In this case, you will get a CES between 1 and 7. Once again, lower scores are better.

Easy, difficult, neither

This third calculation method does not include a numbered scale like the previous two. Alternatively, it utilizes an easy, difficult or neither scale. The question is formed as “How easy did we make it for you to handle your issue today?”


The simplicity of this method aims at increasing customer engagement with the survey and produce higher response rates. The CES is measured by subtracting the percentage of customers who replied easy from the percentage of customers who replied difficult. The resulting customer effort score is between -100 and 100 and the higher your scores, the better.

Customer Effort Score Analysis

Customer effort score analysis provides insights on the ease of a given experience between your company and its customers. In practice, establishing CES as a metric to measure and analyze effort is beneficial for the following reasons:

Creating effective processes

Customers want transactions to be as easy as possible. Customer effort score analysis cannot only pinpoint to where improvements are needed but also track outcomes and establish benchmarks to assess the impact of your actions.

Related: What is a good customer effort score?

Propelling customer loyalty

The strongest advantage of the CES is its predictive power in regard with customer loyalty. In particular, the predictive power of CES refers to its correlation with future purchase behavior and referral likelihood.

Assuring customer success

The Customer effort score can, also, offer actionable insights in terms of customer success and product development. Nowadays, customers make decisions based on personal standards. It is no longer enough to simply offer a product. You have to set a course of action that renders your customers successful when using your product. CES analysis can dig deep into customer feedback and help you uncover user experience issues or other potential customer experience bottlenecks.