There’s A New Customer Service Metric on the Block

As a customer service leader, you’re constantly looking for ways to improve the customer experience. Much of this comes down to choosing the right metrics so you can track your effectiveness. After all, if you’re not measuring the right thing, you won’t know where to improve. Support teams have relied on customer satisfaction (CSAT) as their guiding light for decades. However, there are three issues with it:

  • First, what happens when your CSAT score surpasses 95%? You begin to get less feedback about where you can improve. Customers may be “satisfied,” but you’re not able to pinpoint areas of opportunity.
  • Second, support teams are finding the information they get through surveys isn’t directly applicable to the support experience. Customers often use the survey to complain about product issues or feature requests that haven’t been implemented. Not helpful!
  • Finally, even with a high CSAT score, you might still experience cancellations. That’s because satisfaction doesn’t directly correlate with customer loyalty. Think about it: Even if your customers have phenomenal service experiences, they might still be frustrated they had to contact customer service in the first place.

The new metric on the block
The Corporate Executive Board (CEB) wanted to fix this dilemma once and for all. So they surveyed 75,000+ customers who had interactions with customer service through various channels (phone, email, chat, and more) and conducted hundreds of structured interviews with customer service leaders around the world. Through these studies, they created a new metric: Customer Effort Score (CES). They found that CES is 1.8x more predictive of customer loyalty than CSAT and 2x more predictive than the Net Promoter Score (NPS). But what does it mean?

Think about the last time you interacted with a service department. Let’s say you had to report a product defect; perhaps you had to pick up the phone and call, and then ship the broken item back. Even if you were happy with the customer service experience and marked the resolution as satisfactory, you’re still much less likely to do business with the company again. Remember all that hassle the purchase caused? 

Instead of trying to make a customer support experience satisfying, we should be making issue resolution easy. More companies are recognizing this: being “easy to do business with” means customer defections are rare. Customers will stick with you long-term when you make it easy — and effortless — for them to do so.

What does CES actually measure?
To measure customer effort effectively, the CEB designed this brand new Customer Effort Score (CES) metric. A single question defined the first version of CES: “How much effort did you personally have to put forth to handle your service request?” The rating scale starts from 1 (very low effort) to 5 (very high effort).

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