8 Common Mistakes That Negatively Impact CES

Jake Bartlett Jake Bartlett · 5 min read

By focusing on the end-to-end customer experience you’ll be able to identify areas that can be improved, and you’ll be well on your way to a better CES.

A good support team is obsessed with finding ways to improve the customer experience and have an opportunity to impact it on a large scale. But before you can improve the customer experience, you must first have an understanding of what’s causing negative experiences.

There are a number of different ways to evaluate the experience customers have at various touch points of your brand and product. Customer Effort Score, or CES, is an effective way to understand the experience customers have when they contact support.

CES helps “check the temperature” of your customers after an issue is resolved. The overall goal is to see how easy it was for the customer to get their issue resolved. A typical CES survey contains a statement similar to this:

<Company Name> made it easy for me to handle my issue.


The customer then selects a single option on a 1-7 point scale: one being “strongly disagree” and seven being “strongly agree.

CES has proven to be a more accurate indicator of customer loyalty than other popular metrics. Therefore it plays an important role in today’s SaaS business world. Eliminating—or at least reducing—the instances of negative CES scores can have a positive impact on the business overall.

Let’s take a look at eight common mistakes that negatively impact CES:

CESSloppy handoffs/escalations

It’s not uncommon for customers to interact with multiple departments in an organization, like sales, customer success, and support. These are some of the most common interactions. Having a seamless handoff between each phase of the customer journey is crucial.

Sloppy handoffs leave customers with a bad taste. Smooth handoffs show customers we genuinely care, and that we’re in this together to make them successful.

With poor internal processes, you risk providing the same information to customers from multiple teams. Or handoffs might be slipping through the cracks altogether, leaving the customer in the dark. Whatever the case, make sure you have defined a handoff and escalation process so you’re not dropping the ball or causing confusion. This only makes it more difficult for customers to work with you, and you want to be easy to work with.

Long response times

Let’s face it.

Customers like quick responses to their inquiries. In many cases, customers expect real-time support (live chat, messaging, phone). Response time is a classic support metric for this reason. While it’s not the end all be all, a fast—and high quality—response leads to a great customer experience. To avoid long response times, create SLAs, staff up, and find ways to deflect tickets from coming in in the first place.

These are just a few ways to focus on improving your response time metric, which can result in a more positive customer experience.

Expectations aren’t set

There’s little room for poor communication in the world of customer support. After all, communicating is our job. Unless you’re sending a customer a free t-shirt or giving them a free month of service, they typically don’t like surprises.

For example, a customer reaches out asking about a customization feature. You respond, explaining how to use the feature, but you fail to let them know they need to upgrade their plan before using it. This is not a good customer experience.

You’ve effectively missed an opportunity to turn their question into a great experience with your brand. You failed to set expectations and led them astray.

The customer responds, “It’s not working”. It’s not until then you realize they aren’t on the required subscription plan. This is an expectation you could have set up front through clear communication. Had you nailed this on the first response, chances are the customer would have perceived this as a better support experience.

Poor usability

Customer effort score can get dinged due to poor usability experiences too. Poor usability might be found in your product, in your help desk tool, on your marketing website, in your knowledge base, or anywhere your customers interact with your product or brand digitally.

Maybe your pricing page is too complicated, or there’s a bug in an area of the product you’re helping a customer with. Or maybe your help desk requires jumping through a bunch of hoops before submitting a request. This is all bad usability.

To hone in on usability issues, tag every usability issue as just that, “usability”. Over time, you can get a sense of what’s causing the most usability issues, and then you can tackle those problems. Keeping usability dead simple will help keep your CES scores high.

Poor writing

Weak writing is just another missed opportunity to create a positive, smooth customer experience. Poor writing results in poor customer experiences and increased customer effort.

For example, a small typo or a missing comma can drastically change the meaning of written text. Write carefully, double check your work, and if needed, brush up on your grammar. Hiring great communicators and great writers will go along ways.

Giving the customer too many options

Don’t overwhelm the customer or force them to think too much about your response. Guide them and give them the best answer possible or the best path forward.

Are there five different ways to do X? Maybe, and it’s ok to list them all out or provide information on all five, but make sure you give them your suggestion. Send them on the path to success and avoid putting the customer in a place where they feel overwhelmed and unsure where to go next. Give them the best possible solution.

No self-service options

Customers want to be able to help themselves. Good self-service options mean the customer doesn’t always have to contact support. All those simple things customers reach out about? Make that information or functionality available to the customer. Don’t make them contact support. This burdens your support team with repeat, simple requests and causes friction for your customers. Customer friction is what CES strives to avoid.

Surface self-service resources where your customers are already looking. Make it easy for your customers to help themselves, and they’ll be more successful in their goals.

Not focusing on negative feedback

Customer feedback is a goldmine of information. You should have a system in place for effectively capturing, sharing, and acting on customer feedback. Start with the negative feedback. What’s causing it? Are customers upset about the way something works? Fix it. Are they upset about a feature that’s missing?

Explore the idea with them—ask them why they want that feature and work with your product team to get a solution in place if it makes sense. By focusing on what’s causing negative feedback, you can work to squash those issues, which will result in more positive feedback overall.


There are many common mistakes that can result in negative CES scores.

While there’s no single solution for improving CES, you can certainly make a positive impact by identifying weak areas of the customer experience. By focusing on the end-to-end customer experience you’ll be able to identify areas that can be improved, and you’ll be well on your way to a better CES.

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About the Author:

Jake is passionate about all things customer experience. He loves solving problems and creating content that educates, informs, and inspires. Outside of work, he loves spending time outside and playing music. Follow him on Twitter @jakedbartlett

How did you like this blog?


Jake Bartlett Jake Bartlett

Jake is passionate about all things customer experience. He loves solving problems and creating content that educates, informs, and inspires. Outside of work, he loves spending time outside and playing music. 

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