8 Simple Ways to Lower Your Customer Effort Score (CES)

As customers, all of us have had at least one support experience that made us go ‘it’s really unfair that I had to go through so much to get this issue resolved’. For instance, when I tried to get help with fixing my washing machine, I was redirected from one team to another and I had to go over the details of my problem a dozen times before a rep was assigned. Although it was a smooth experience from then on, I will always remember this brand for providing an experience that wasn’t as effortless as just speaking to an agent over the phone, giving them my customer ID and getting a support rep to come over and help with the issue. 

Today, providing a satisfactory experience goes beyond providing a quick resolution and closing the ticket. It involves delivering effortless experiences. So, to maximize customer satisfaction, you need to minimize the effort the customer needs to put in to complete a service interaction. But how do you measure the effort a customer puts during a service interaction? 

Customer effort score or CES is an important customer service metric that lets you measure the effort your customers put in to resolve an issue with your customer support team. The CES allows you to reflect on the customer experience you deliver – a low CES tells you that your team is delivering a good experience and a high CES is an indicator that something is wrong. 

So, in order to deliver effortless experiences, it’s important that you keep your CES as low as possible. In this blog, we’ll discuss and take a look at eight easy ways in which you can bring down the effort your customers need to take in every customer interaction. 

#1 Be easily accessible through every touchpoint of the customer journey 

Customers today expect brands to deliver seamless experiences that do not require them to hop from one channel of communication to another. By being present on the right channels and offering a unified experience, you can reduce the effort customers have to put in to get in touch with you. 

To make sure you’re easily accessible to your customers, you should start by mapping out the entire customer journey and noting down various touchpoints. Once you have this sorted, you can then choose the support channels that are convenient for your customers to reach out to you. 

The channels that customers expect you to be present on will vary based on the nature of your business. For instance, the food delivery app Swiggy, realized that most of its customers’ activities occur inside the app. So, they moved their customer support to inside the app too. This way, customers don’t have to leave the app to receive help. 

On the other hand, if you’re an e-commerce brand, different customer touchpoints occur in different channels. Your customers are likely to look for your product on your website and will need assistance with details related to a product and its availability. Once the customer has made a purchase, you can use the phone or chat channel to communicate shipping details. So providing support on chat, call, and email will make it easy for your customers to reach out to you.

Pro tip: Follow a proactive customer service approach 

Adopting a proactive approach to customer service goes a long way in lowering customer effort score. By identifying issues and offering a solution in advance, you’re eliminating the effort that the customer has to put in to contact your team and find out for themselves. For instance, Amazon proactively reaches out to its customers to communicate shipping delays in advance. This way, their customers reset expectations and do not need to contact the team for updates.

#2 Invest time in improving the self-service you offer 

Providing a good self-service experience doesn’t end with setting up a full-fledged knowledge base. You need to focus on continuously enhancing and updating your knowledge base in order to provide a satisfactory self-service experience. When you don’t do that, a customer looking for a question might have to read through different articles that contain similar content before finding the most accurate one.

Here are a few ways in which you can improve the self-service experience you provide: 

– Periodically clean your knowledge base: Your knowledge base might have accumulated clutter over time. By combing through your knowledge base periodically, you can identify articles or FAQs that haven’t been categorized, delete duplicates, update the ones that contain outdated information and more. 

At Freshdesk, we took up the exercise of cleaning up the knowledge base a few years after it was set up. Here’s an image that compares the details of the knowledge base before and after the cleanup. 

Pro tip: Use screenshots or gifs and annotate them to drive home the point you’re trying to make. 

Offer instant help with a chatbot: Including a chatbot in your customer service-portal creates a first-line of support that’s available around-the-clock. This also helps you provide a low effort experience since the chatbot can be trained to pull out the most relevant article from your knowledge base, as opposed to the customer going through multiple articles before finding the right one.

At Freshdesk, after we launched our support chatbot, we saw that the number of tickets that were being created from the support portal reduced drastically.

“With all this effort we started seeing a dip in our Portal tickets, from 11.4 % in 2017, it came down to almost 5 % in 2018.” – Chakravarthy Srinivasan, Director of Customer Support for Freshdesk

#3 Offer support in multiple languages

When you’re supporting a global customer base, language can pose a barrier in delivering a good experience. A customer who doesn’t speak the same language as you will have a hard time trying to converse with you and might leave feeling frustrated. 

Expecting your customers to manually translate each and every message that is received (or sent) takes you further away from maintaining a good customer effort score. To prevent this, you can hire agents who are proficient in speaking/writing your customers’ language or set up teams dedicated to providing support in various languages. 

If hiring a team of linguists who can provide customer support in different languages is not a feasible option, you can integrate your ticketing software with translation tools like Google Translator or Awaken Translator. These tools offer real-time translation and typically work in the following way: 

– A customer starts a conversation in their native language. 

– The tool then translates the customer’s message in the language that your agent is comfortable with. 

– Once the agent responds, the tool automatically translates the agent’s response to the language of the customer. 

By doing this, you can make sure that your customers aren’t going through an experience that requires a high effort from their end. This can also help in improving your CSAT customer satisfaction ratings.  

#4 Reduce your average response time

In order to minimize your customer effort score, you need to ensure that your customers’ wait time is always low. In fact, the industry benchmark for average response time is pegged at 7.3 hours and the standard resolution time is 24.8 hours. 

While it’s important to give each customer issue equal priority, some customer issues are more pressing than others and they need to be given a higher priority. More often than not, when a customer bombards you with messages they are facing a huge roadblock and need immediate assistance. For instance, a customer whose software has crashed, or payment has failed, etc will take the effort to repeatedly reach out to you. Responding to these burning issues on time is extremely important. 

Whereas, common questions that deal with how-to’s can have an extended window within which the agent has to respond to the customer. 

To ensure that your team prioritizes burning issues and that no customer is left hanging, you can up different SLA and escalation management policies for different products, channels and types of issues. Along with this, you can also set up automation rules that sort and prioritize issues based on certain keywords. This way, you can ensure that customers can get in touch with an agent quickly without having to repeatedly flag the issue.

Pro tipRecord important customer details: Store important details of your customers that you might require to provide assistance such as their account ID, website URL, etc. By doing this, your customers need not repeat these details each time and can get faster resolutions.

#5 Invest in training and onboarding new agents

Most customers try to find a solution on their own and contact support as a last resort. So, when a customer gets in touch with you, their CES is already high. So, it’s important for your team is well equipped to provide the right solution instantly. Here are a few ways in which you can help your team provide solutions swiftly: 

– Create internal help-guides: Setting up an internal knowledge base of sorts will make it easy for your agents, especially the new recruits to look find relevant information. You can use this to publish recent product updates, the product roadmap, etc. 

– Find new ways to onboard your team: Innovating your method of training can help your agents learn faster. You can experiment with interactive videos and tutorials. At Freshworks, we use the Freshworks Academy, a portal that contains self-paced courses. You can also set up a chatbot that can assist your agents whenever they’re stuck. 

– Conduct periodic quizzes or contests: You can make learning fun by gamifying the entire process for your agents with periodic quizzes and contests. You can set up incentives to learn by giving the top performers rewards.

#6 Gather and use customer feedback effectively

Customer feedback is a treasure trove of insights that you can learn from. Feedback tells you what you’re doing right and highlights what you can do better to maintain a good customer effort score. Here are a few instances in which you can gauge the customer’s effort by using the feedback collected:

– Attaching a customer satisfaction survey at the end of every customer support interaction can give you a detailed look at the support you’re providing. When a customer gives you a poor rating, you can ask the customer to state what they disliked about your support.

– Collecting feedback from solution articles and analyzing survey responses can help you understand how helpful your customers think your solution articles are. If you’re consistently receiving negative feedback on a particular article, you need to revisit it and tweak the content. 

– Gathering feedback after a conversation with a chatbot can help you train your chatbot effectively, which can in-turn reduce the customer effort score. Here’s how Freshdesk’s support bot gathers feedback at the end of a conversation: 

– Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a measure of the number of customers who will be advocates of your brand. A low NPS is an indicator that you need to rework your entire customer service strategy and shift your focus on delivering low-effort experiences.

#7 Innovate and find new ways to delight customers:

Technology is evolving every day and brands are looking at innovative ways of delivering low-effort experiences. There are different apps that you can integrate with your customer support software to reduce your customer effort score. So you need to keep an eye out for tools that can help reduce the customer’s effort. 

The Freshdesk marketplace hosts many apps that help in lowering the customer effort score. A couple of them are given below:

Freshmarker-Freshdesk integration: This integration lets you view the activities a customer performed on your website or app before reaching out to you. Instead of asking a customer to spell out their issue, you can use a session replay to see what went wrong where. This way, you can offer faster resolutions and lower your customer effort score. With this integration, you can also automatically trigger a popup each time a customer is displaying frustration signals like dead clicks and rage clicks.

Nicereply: Nicereply lets you track your customer effort score from within Freshdesk. With this tool, you can also set up triggers that warn you when a customer conversation has been left unattended for too long. You can also send personalized feedback surveys and get real-time updates on what your customers have to say about you.

To sum up –

Today, brands often focus only on making sure that they aren’t delivering a poor or unsatisfactory experience and ignore the finer details. In the course of this, the effort that customers put into getting their issues resolved is often overlooked. Since products and services that offer effortless experiences are more sought after, you need to focus on lowering your customer effort score. This way, you can deliver better experiences, improve customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and reduce churn.