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The customer effort score tracks a customer’s relationship with a company or brand, and is a major key to building brand loyalty. Strategies to improve your customer effort score (CES) can take the shape of optimizing your customer surveys after interactions, diversifying channels used for feedback, and letting contact center agents communicate freely with customers.
The customer effort score (or CES) is a customer service metric by which contact center agents are judged. It measures the effort that a customer has to make in order to get information during a call, or to get an agent to help solve one of their problems. Be careful to not get it confused with the customer satisfaction score (CSAT) – although the two work in tandem to paint a picture of customer loyalty, there is an important difference. The CSAT score rates single interactions and points of contact, whereas the CES tracks a customer’s relationship to a company or brand. Moreover, CSAT scores do not factor into the calculation of the customer effort score.
What, then, goes into the calculation of the customer effort score? It isn’t about delighting the customer – a Harvard Business Review study shows that tactic does not make as much of an impact as previously thought. Nor is it simply about sounding pleasant on the phone. It’s about having the courtesy to ring back when a call with a customer is dropped. It’s about following through on a proposed solution to a customer issue and communicating that follow-through. Hubspot’s equation for calculating customer effort scores takes analyzed surveys and divides the cumulative rating across CES surveys by the overall number of surveys taken.
The result is an actionable number, as Hubspot notes a strong correlation between low customer effort and high likelihood of increased business in the future. Research by Gartner also indicates that higher customer effort score calculations can result in more positive word-of-mouth, which in turn translates to a higher Net Promoter Score, another key customer service metric. Gartner further notes that low-effort interactions actually cost less than those that take more effort.
The more effort your agents undertake to truly understand customer problems and work on solving them, the more likely they are to return the favor by consenting to a survey and rating the customer service highly. It is a major key to building brand loyalty, and that’s why this metric carries so much importance today.
With that said, here are some key actions your company and agents should be taking in order to improve this crucial customer service metric.
Forrester points out that a simple score can mask complex emotions about customer service experiences. Along with getting a concrete number, it is also equally important to compose the right questions in order to get the answers that matter most to your company. However, you should not expect that customers would want to spend more than a moment responding to your survey. Qualtrics advises that two questions at maximum will suffice. It may seem too few, but keeping it brief optimizes this customer service metric.
Telephone communication is not the only factor in calculating customer effort scores. Statistics show that newer generations can even be telephone-averse, preferring to communicate online. To get with the times, you must go where your customers are. Meet customers on multiple support channels such as social media support, email, chat, and in-person support centers, in addition to your tried-and-true contact centers. But don’t stop there…
Resources such as FAQS, bots, intelligent Interactive voice response (IVR) or any automated task management platform are useful for inbound support calls because it makes it easier for the customer to get their question answered. More to the point, these options help reduce customer effort without needing to wait for an agent to become available. Making the effort to provide self-service options is an absolutely indispensable part of maintaining a satisfied customer base.
For those that do prefer the telephone, there is nothing more gratifying for a customer than connecting with another human being who understands their problem and has the tools to help. Contact center scripts are a pain point for all involved; they reduce the chance of a connection being made, as agents can sound stiff and unnatural in delivery. Monitoring and prodding agents to stay on script further compounds the problem, and can lead to empathy fatigue, burnout, and possible attrition. Displaying a little emotional intelligence goes a long way – 71% of customers stated that agent empathy fostered brand loyalty in a recent survey. The more you let an agent empathize freely with your customers, the greater the quality of help will be.
As you can see, there are a lot of different factors that go into the calculation of your customer effort score, and they can admittedly be difficult to monitor and keep track of. Having the right Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solution can greatly assist in getting your customer effort score, as well as other customer service metrics, where you need them to be.
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