How to Track Customer Effort for Every Transaction


This is a guest post by our friends over at Nicereply. Viktor Magic will walk you through how to run a customer effort questionnaire and why it’s important to track CES after every transaction.

Dealing with your business shouldn’t be hard work. Customers don’t want high effort experiences because difficult experiences make the customer feel exhausted.

High effort experiences are the biggest cause of disloyalty: 96% of customers that have a high effort experience become more disloyal in the future. Not only that, high-effort experiences lead to poor reviews, downgrading, and eventually churn.

The goal of support departments is to make sure as few customers as possible run into these sticky experiences. The easier we make it for our customers to accomplish their goals, find value with our product and resolve any inevitable issues, the more loyal they are to our products.

Tracking customer effort can help support and product teams determine where customers are struggling. There’s an easy way to find out where these high-effort points are occurring, by tracking customer effort transactionally using the CES survey.

Transactional metrics

The most difficult experiences usually end with a customer service conversation. This is why tracking customer effort transactionally can give you the most actionable results.

You’re narrowing in on transactions that are likely to have created frustration. Whether it’s updating account information, resolving a tricky bug or just figuring out how you use your product, needing to contact support means putting forth more effort.

We’re considering any interaction with support – either through a phone call, chat or email – as a transaction. By asking customers to self report their “level of effort” at each transaction, we’re able to paint a picture of higher and lower effort experiences.

Sending a Customer Effort Survey

In 2010, the CEB surveyed thousands of customers and service leaders to determine the best way to predict customer loyalty. They coined the term Customer Effort Score and battle-tested the survey we now use when measuring customer effort transactionally.

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To measure customer effort, we ask customers one simple question:

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement:

[Company A] made it easy to resolve my issue.

Customers respond on a 7 point scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). The survey designed by Nicereply is also color coded from red (unhappy) to green (happy) to make it even easier for customers to read the survey.

Customer Effort Score Questionnaire from Nicereply

Once customers select their response, we follow up with a question designed to learn more about how they feel.

“How could Company X improve in the future?”

Leaving this follow up question fairly open ended lets customers choose how you can better serve them. It might be product related, or it might be service related – all feedback is good feedback!

Sending the survey

Using your customer service software or help desk automation tools, you can choose to send this survey out to the requester of any closed conversations. I recommend waiting 24 hours after the conversation automatically moves to resolved, just to make sure you haven’t jumped the gun.

To avoid overwhelming your customers, you may want to only send surveys to customers who haven’t already received one this week. Besides appearing a bit desperate for feedback, your customers might not remember which survey relates to which conversation. This could skew any analysis we do in the future.

Finally, it might be worth setting a reminder email for customers who haven’t responded to the survey. The more responses you get, the more information your team has to work with when you go to start analyzing ways to improve.

Reading the results

Sending out surveys is a futile exercise if you don’t take action on the results. Finding your average CES is only 20% of the battle. To win the war on reducing customer effort, we need to go deeper.

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Just how companies might be measuring customer satisfaction incorrectly, the same applies with customer effort.

If you are just looking at the top level number, both customer satisfaction and effort scores become a vanity metric. It might stroke your ego, but it’s not going help keep more customers around.

Instead, we need to look at the reasons and patterns behind survey responses to decide how to take action.

Customer Effort surveys should never be anonymous.

In order to track effort transactionally, you need to be able to match up the score and comment with the transaction it’s referring to.

At the end of each reporting period (this might be weekly, monthly or quarterly depending on your resources available) take a closer look at the drivers of high effort experiences.

To do this, look at each transaction that received a low score. Divide responses into buckets based on the reason for the score. Common reasons might be a slow response time, having to jump through hoops to talk to a human, or back and forth responses before resolution.

This should be your baseline for collecting data – and you should go deeper into analyzing your CES data – so you can create a graph like this:

Measuring customer effort

By arranging the drivers of customer effort visually, it’s easy to see where your customers are getting stuck.

In the example above, not being able to locate contact information made a few customers work really hard to resolve their issue. To improve their experience, it might be worth moving contact information to a more visible location.

But the more consistent reason for high effort experiences was too many replies – or a lot of back and forth conversations before resolution. If this was my team, I’d start looking at which agents were receiving these scores and developing some team training on experience engineering.

Hopefully, shifting our focus to providing quicker resolutions would see this bucket of responses decrease next month.

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Focus on each transaction

By tracking customer effort for each transaction, you can pinpoint the exact cause of frustration. It also directs your agent’s focus to ensuring each interaction is as effortless as possible. Every customer’s experience matters.

With every little bump we smooth over, we improve the path to success for future customers. Focus on making each transaction effortless to improve loyalty and keep customers for life.

About the author:

viktor-magic-customer-effort-scoreViktor Magic loves being a happy customer. As the CEO of Nicereply he helps businesses become more customer centric by measuring their customer satisfaction, customer effort and net promoter score.

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