Once you’ve got data flowing in from your surveys, you’ll need to start with the Customer Effort Score reporting and use it to inform your company roadmap. What are our customers finding difficult about getting help? How can we make it easier for them to do business with us?

You’ll probably have a lot of questions when you start looking at the data. We’ve compiled a list of the most common questions we’ve heard and the best answers we have, so you can hit the ground running.

Customer Effort Score Reporting

What do I look at when measuring CES?

CES is a special metric because it requires two lenses when interpreting it. Remember your grade 9 math classes? We’re going to look at distribution and averages.

Average – simply take all of the responses you’ve received, add them up and divide by the number of total responses. Nicereply does this for you automatically at the top of your report

Distribution – possibly more important than the overall average is the distribution of scores you receive. Think of this way: Your average CES registers in at 5 this month. Not bad, right? But, when you start digging deeper, you find while most customers are giving you nice high scores, there’s a pool of customers who give your team a 1 dragging down that average. Maybe they’ve all experienced the same glitch in your billing system; if you hadn’t looked at the distribution, you would have missed it!

Finally, you’ll want to look at your overall response rate. If you’re sending surveys to 100 customers, but only receiving 2 or 3 back, you don’t see the level of engagement you might expect.

Customer Effort Score Reporting

My CES score is 5.4 – is that good?

Because CES is still a very new metric, there’s not a lot of benchmarking data available. Generally, you should aim for an average score around 5 – this is the minimum level where customers find you “easy enough” to continue to doing business with and you’ll see the loyalty bump. Instead of benchmarking against other companies, your goal is to consistently improve your distribution curve to move more customers into “easy.”


Customers are leaving product feedback in comments. How can I encourage more service related questions?

While we believe any feedback is good feedback, we also understand that it might not be as helpful when working with your customer support agents (and that support often struggles to influence product improvements).

If you find you’re getting more product-related questions, try adjusting your survey timing (make sure it comes right after service interaction). You can also try adding a second question to your survey to make it clear you want feedback on service and product separately. Although you may see a drop in the number of survey responses you receive as you increase the length of the survey.


Is there such a thing as too easy?

Yes! If every customer is finding it too easy to do business with you, you are probably not the most efficient you can be with your customer service resources. When you are looking for the distribution, look for a bell curve with most responses around 5 or a 6. If it’s heavily weighted towards a 7, it’s too easy for your customers to contact you, and you should be encouraging them to self-serve. (Remember: the CES is asked after a service interaction. If they were able to help themselves, you wouldn’t see them in this survey)

Self-service is anything that allows a customer to solve their problem or question. It might be an interactive guide, a help desk article, or an in-product tutorial. Those issues that are very easy to solve provide great insight into problems that should be solved by self-service, but aren’t. Take a look at these survey responses to see what content your team should be creating, and hopefully, you’ll see the number of times customers *have* to contact you decreasing!

Customer Effort Score Reporting

What should I do to improve these scores?

If you see lower scores than you would like, it means that customers are finding it hard to do business with you. This could be for variety reasons, but the most common ones are:

  • Difficult to contact – either you don’t have your contact information readily available, or you aren’t as responsive as you should be.
  • Too many responses – if you aren’t able to answer their question in a few replies, customers will find the interaction more difficult.
  • Needing to jump through hoops – if you’re forcing customers to phone specific numbers, switch communication methods or provide a lot of additional information – they tend to get frustrated.

To determine your biggest drivers of high effort experiences, export tickets with low scores and analyze the conversations. We’ve written more about that process here.

How can I get more responses?

There are two main reasons why you might not be receiving survey responses: either it’s too difficult for customers to submit their feedback, or they aren’t feeling engaged enough to want to offer feedback.

Making the survey easy:

  • Send a copy of the survey to yourself. Is it easy to read? Does the formatting work in all email clients and with both plain text and HTML formatting?
  • Review the content. Is the survey straightforward? Is the subject line clear? Does it sound like a quick survey or a big time investment?
  • Use a solution with one-click submit functionality. If the survey only saves when a customer clicks the link AND then presses submit, you could see some survey abandonment partway through. Using a tool like Nicereply that captures partly completed surveys (i.e., even when the customer just clicks the email link) helps you see more responses.

Engaging customer:

  • Respond to feedback. If customers don’t feel like their opinion is being heard, they will not bother to submit responses.
  • Personalize your support. If you create a relationship with customers through simple things like acting human, using their name, remembering them between interactions, they will be more inclined to help you.

Customer Effort Score Reporting

How should I share this information with my team?

First of all, you’ll want to make sure everyone understands the CES. While the CSAT is self-explanatory, the CES is a newer metric and might need more explanation to get everyone, especially the exec team, on board. You’ll need this buy-in to be effective with any changes you want to make after analyzing the results. A lunch and learn, or an email with FAQs should do the trick!

Once you’re certain everyone is on the same page, you’ll want to disseminate results monthly. We like a simple email, but if you have an intranet or a company social network you can post it there. A good report contains not only the numbers but an explanation as well.

Raw data – provide the average, distribution graph and survey response rate.

Analysis – provide a brief explanation of how this has changed from the previous month and any takeaways the team has gleamed from this month’s responses. Highlight any wins that the team has had towards improving the results.

Anecdotes – keep shrinking the distance between your customers and the company by sharing survey comments direct from customers. Reading feedback in your customer’s words is a great way to make the survey more personable.

We’d love to keep adding to this post! What other questions do you have about CES? Leave them in the comments below, or tweet to us @nice_reply.


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