What Is Customer Effort Score (CES) and How to Measure It

What Is Customer Effort Score (CES) and How to Measure It cover

Confused about what a customer effort score is and why it’s relevant for you?

Customer effort score (CES) is the gold standard for SaaS organizations trying to improve their customer experience.

This metric focuses on analyzing user feedback to gauge customer loyalty and satisfaction, both crucial for driving growth.

In this guide, we explore how to measure CES, why it matters, and how you can improve yours.


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What is Customer Effort Score (CES)?

The customer effort score measures how much effort customers need to exert to use your product or service, resolve an issue, or find the information they’re looking for.

Customer effort score surveys include a simple question, like “[X Company] made it easy for me to resolve my issue”.

Next, customers are asked to rate their experience on a scale, typically ranging from 1-5 or 1-7. , where 1 means strongly disagree and 7 means strongly agree.

The idea behind this customer satisfaction metric is that customers are more loyal to products that are easier to use.

How to measure your CES

You can measure customer effort score immediately by setting up triggers for it to appear after a specific customer interaction.

Let’s say a customer just finished talking to a customer service representative. Triggering a customer effort score survey after this customer interaction is useful to learn how satisfied they are with the support team.

Additionally, you can use several channels to collect CES surveys, such as the website, in-app surveys within the product interface, email, etc.

Customer effort score survey
Design CES surveys with Userpilot.

How to calculate customer effort score

Once you’ve gathered survey responses, the customer effort score calculation is simple. Here’s what the formula looks like:

Customer Effort Score (CES) = (No. of positive responses (ratings of 5, 6, or 7) / No. of total responses) x 100.

What is customer effort score calculation

What is a good customer effort score?

It’s hard to define what counts as a good customer effort score.

Generally speaking, there is no universal benchmark to compare your score to. This is because various companies use different rating systems, leading to a varied average score as well.

However, a general rule of thumb is to aim for higher ratings on a 7-point scale.

Pros and cons of measuring CES

Every customer satisfaction metric comes with its pros and cons. Let’s look at some of these for the customer effort score.



  • Limited scope because it doesn’t examine the overall customer relationship with your business.
  • Survey response bias could lead customers to answer inaccurately.
  • Limited benchmarking makes it hard to gauge your CES performance.

Best times to use CES

Next, let’s look at some key use cases for the CES metric. These use cases highlight different interactions along the user journey after which it makes most sense to send CES surveys immediately.

1. After interactions that led to a conversion

Showing surveys after interactions leading to conversion is useful because that’s when customers are most engaged. Therefore, they’re more likely to provide accurate feedback.

Examples of such interactions could be users trying a new feature, successfully subscribing, or completing a purchase.

At such conversion points, ask relevant questions in your customer effort score survey like, How easy was it to complete your recent purchase on our website?”

Plus, this customer feedback helps uncover whether a certain action is causing friction and, therefore, needs to be improved.

CES survey
Example of a CES survey.

2. After interactions with customer support

Want to track how your customer service team is performing?

Do so by triggering a CES survey after customers interact with service reps.

This helps ensure that customers don’t have to go through a high-effort service interaction. It also points towards any areas for improvement.

A sample question for your CES survey measuring customer satisfaction with the support team could be, “How easy was it to get your issue resolved by our customer support team today?”

Emoticon scale CES survey
Example of a satisfaction survey.

3. After onboarding

Creating a customer-centric onboarding process is an iterative struggle. Therefore, you need to constantly measure your onboarding resource’s performance so you can improve accordingly.

That’s where CES surveys come in. They’re a great resource for collecting feedback after user onboarding completion.

You can ask questions like, “How easy was it to set up your new account and get started with our product/service?”

CES survey after onboarding
Example of an onboarding survey.

4. After subscription renewals and cancellations

Assessing the CES score after subscription renewals and cancellations helps identify pain points in the customer journey.

Then, by incorporating this feedback into product improvements, you can increase customer loyalty and renewals.

Some sample questions include, “How easy was it to renew your subscription today?” or “How easy was it to cancel your subscription?”

How CES compares to other customer experience metrics

CES is a good metric for predicting customer retention and assessing the quality of the customer experience.

However, it is limited to specific customer interactions and doesn’t provide a full picture of customer loyalty or satisfaction.

That’s why it’s best you use other metrics alongside CES, like the ones below.

Net promoter score (NPS)

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures customer loyalty based on the customer’s likelihood of recommending your product or service to others.

NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors (ratings 0 to 6) from the percentage of promoters (ratings 9 or 10).

While CES focuses on the ease of completing specific tasks, NPS is different. It evaluates overall customer loyalty and also the likelihood of advocacy.

This is why NPS surveys are used more often at every customer journey point to monitor loyalty.

NPS survey example
Example of an NPS survey.

Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)

The customer satisfaction score (CSAT) measures how satisfied customers are with your overall product or service on a scale from 1 to 5.

To calculate the customer satisfaction score, divide the number of satisfied customers (ratings 4 and 5) by the total responses and multiply by 100.

Similar to CES, the CSAT score is also measured at specific touchpoints, like a customer support call or a purchase.

However, the two are not interchangeable.

The CSAT survey focuses on overall satisfaction with an interaction. In contrast, the CES only measures the effort required for that interaction.

CSAT survey
Example of a CSAT survey.

Key types of CES survey questions

There are several ways to structure your customer effort score surveys, using various rating scales. The most commonly used scales are discussed below.

Numbered scale

Numbered scales are typically 5-point or 7-point scales for measuring a customer’s level of agreement or satisfaction. The lower end of the scale corresponds to low satisfaction or agreement, whereas the opposite is true for a rating of 5 or 7.

For example, when asked whether a task was a low-effort experience, 10 respondents gave ratings of 5, 6, or 7. These 10 respondents are regarded as satisfied customers.

Lastly, numeric scales are useful when you quickly want to quantify qualitative aspects like opinions.

Numbered customer effort score rating
Create a custom numbered scale in Userpilot.

Likert scale

Use the Likert scale to quantitatively measure qualitative feedback, like opinions and attitudes.

This scale asks users to indicate their agreement level on a predefined scale ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”.

For example, you ask users if they think your product is innovative. Only 1 user out of 20 strongly agrees. This tells you that 5% of respondents strongly agree that your product is innovative.

Likert scale for CES surveys
Create a custom Likert scale in Userpilot.

Emoticon ratings

This rating scale uses emoticons, like smiley faces or icons, to rate customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction.

Emoticon ratings are preferred when you want quick responses. Furthermore, customers are more likely to fill out emoticon ratings because they are visually intuitive and more engaging.

The scale typically consists of 5 smiley faces, ranging from happy to sad, representing various sentiments customers might feel.

Emoticon rating scale
Create a custom emoticon scale in Userpilot.

Whichever rating scale you choose, Userpilot can help you build in-app surveys and launch CES surveys as well.

Create custom surveys with Userpilot.

Plus, you can analyze the results with a variety of survey performance tools available.

Customer effort score survey analytics
Track survey analytics with Userpilot.

How to improve CES in your company?

If you’re struggling with a low CES score, here are some proven tips to help you out!

Customer onboarding checklist
Improve onboarding with Userpilot.
  • Provide multiple channels for customers to reach you: Lastly, customers have varying needs. Therefore, they need diverse communication channels, like live chat, phone, email, social media, etc.
Resource center
Userpilot’s in-app resource center builder.


Customer effort score is a powerful metric that measures how easy and pleasant your customers’ interactions with your products or services are.

When measured together with NPS, CSAT, and other metrics, it provides important insights into the customer experience you create for your users.

Just remember: the more effort you put into delivering seamless customer experiences, the less effort customers will have to exert.

Want to build great product experiences code-free? Book a demo call with our team and get started!

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