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Putting in the effort: 3 ways to improve your customer effort score calculation

Hervé Leroux Chief Marketing Officer

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 optimising your customer surveys after interactions, diversifying channels used for feedback, and letting contact centre agents communicate freely with customers.


The customer effort score (or CES) is a customer service metric by which contact centre 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.

How is the customer effort score calculated?

What, then, goes into the calculation of the customer effort score and how can businesses improve it? Customer effort scores became relevant when older tactics aimed at improving customer loyalty by exceeding their expectations were shown to be less effective than simply reducing the effort a customer has to put in. Communication and impressing clients has a place but is fruitless if companies do not follow through on basic promises. Why are customer effort scores so useful? It is not only more effective but also easier to focus on the idea of making life easy for your customers than a vague concept like trying to delight them. Things like courtesy, callbacks and proactively preventing problems address actual customer needs.  

Hubspot’s equation for calculating customer effort scores takes analysed 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, correlating to a higher CES, 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 of the high-effort variety.

The more effort your agents undertake to truly understand customer problems and work on solving them, the more likely they are to return the favour 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.

Strategies for improving your customer effort score

This has seen the creation of data privacy laws, such as the EU’s GDPR, and entities, such With that said, here are some key actions your company and agents should be taking in order to improve this crucial customer service metric.

Put effort into building a survey

Forrester points out that a simple score can mask complex emotions about customer service experiences. Along with generating a concrete number, it is also equally important to compose the right questions in order to obtain 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. A simple two-question survey may seem too short, but keeping it brief optimises this customer service metric

Use multiple channels for customer contact

Telephone communication is not the only factor in calculating customer effort scores. Research shows that although the phone is still dominant, 18-34 year-olds are leading the way with increasing usage of everything from live text chat and social networks to video calls. To be truly customer focused, you must go where your customers are. Meet customers on multiple support channels such as social media support, email, chat, and in-person support centres, in addition to your tried-and-true contact centres. But don’t stop there…

Include self-service options

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.

Ditch the scripts

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 centre scripts can be 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 prompting 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 empathise freely with your customers, the greater the quality of help will be.

Last but not least: find a solution that will improve your customer service metrics

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 Centre 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.

Need to boost your CES?

Hervé Leroux
Chief Marketing Officer

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