KPIs for Product Managers

KPIs for Product Managers: customer effort score

Discover how to measure the success of your product management strategy with the customer effort score (CES) KPI.

When it comes to measuring the success of your product, it's important to consider a range of key performance indicators (KPIs). One metric that has gained increasing attention in recent years is the customer effort score (CES). In this article, we'll explore what CES is, why it matters for product managers, and how you can use it to improve your product and drive growth.

Understanding Customer Effort Score (CES)

Before diving into the specifics of CES, it's important to have a clear understanding of what this metric entails. Put simply, customer effort score is a measure of how easy or difficult it is for customers to do business with your company. This includes factors such as navigating your website, placing an order, or resolving an issue with customer service.

It's no secret that customers today have high expectations when it comes to their interactions with businesses. They want fast, easy, and convenient experiences that require minimal effort on their part. In fact, studies have shown that 96% of customers say that customer service is an important factor in their choice of loyalty to a brand.

What is Customer Effort Score?

CES is typically measured on a scale of 1-5, with 1 indicating that the customer found the process very difficult, and 5 indicating that it was very easy. This metric can be collected via surveys or feedback forms, and can provide valuable insights into the customer experience.

For example, a customer who gives a low CES score may have struggled to find the information they needed on your website, or may have had a frustrating experience with your customer service team. On the other hand, a high CES score may indicate that the customer was able to quickly and easily complete their desired action, such as placing an order or resolving an issue.

Why is CES important for product managers?

As a product manager, your goal is to create and improve products that meet the needs and expectations of your target audience. In order to do so, you need to have a deep understanding of the customer experience and identify pain points that may be hindering adoption or retention. CES offers a unique perspective into the customer journey, allowing you to identify areas where effort and friction can be reduced, leading to increased satisfaction and loyalty.

For example, if you notice that customers are consistently giving low CES scores when it comes to navigating your website, you may want to invest in a website redesign that makes it easier for customers to find what they're looking for. Or, if customers are struggling to get their issues resolved through customer service, you may want to invest in additional training or resources for your support team.

By using CES as a tool for measuring customer satisfaction and identifying areas for improvement, product managers can ensure that their products and services are meeting the needs and expectations of their target audience, ultimately leading to increased customer loyalty and business success.

Measuring Customer Effort Score

Customer Effort Score (CES) is a widely used metric that measures how easy it is for customers to interact with your product or service. It is an important metric to monitor because it has a direct impact on customer loyalty and retention. Now that we've explored the basics of CES, let's delve into how this metric can be initially measured and monitored over time.

Methods for collecting CES data

There are several methods for collecting CES data, including email surveys, feedback forms, and in-app prompts. When designing your survey or form, it's important to keep the questions concise and specific to the customer's recent interaction with your product or service. This will help ensure that the responses are accurate and actionable.

For example, if you want to measure the CES for a customer service interaction, you might ask the following question: "How easy was it to get your issue resolved during your recent customer service interaction?"

Alternatively, if you want to measure the CES for a purchase, you might ask: "How easy was it to complete your purchase on our website?"

Calculating CES: the formula

The formula for calculating CES is simple: take the average of all responses to the question "How easy was it to complete your task?" on a scale of 1-5. This means that the CES score will range from 1 (very difficult) to 5 (very easy).

It's important to note that the question should be phrased in a way that is relevant to the specific interaction being measured. This will help ensure that the CES score accurately reflects the customer's experience.

Frequency and timing of CES measurement

When it comes to measuring CES, consistency is key. It's important to determine a regular cadence for collecting this metric in order to track progress and identify trends over time. This could be on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis, depending on the frequency of customer interactions.

Additionally, it's important to ensure that you are collecting data at the appropriate moments in the customer journey, such as after a purchase or customer service interaction. This will help ensure that the data is relevant and actionable.

By regularly measuring and monitoring your CES score, you can identify areas for improvement and take action to improve the customer experience. This will not only increase customer loyalty and retention, but also drive business growth and success.

Setting CES benchmarks and targets

Once you have collected sufficient data on your Customer Effort Score (CES), it's time to set benchmarks and targets for improvement. This can be achieved by analyzing industry standards, identifying your product's ideal CES range, and aligning targets with overall business goals.

Industry standards for Customer Effort Score

While industry benchmarks can provide valuable context for understanding your product's performance, it's important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to CES. According to recent research, the average CES score across industries is approximately 3.2-3.4. However, it's important to take into account the unique characteristics of your product and customer base when setting benchmarks and targets.

For example, if you operate in a highly competitive industry where customers have high expectations for ease of use, you may want to set a higher benchmark for your product's CES score. On the other hand, if your product is more complex and requires more effort from customers, a lower benchmark may be more appropriate.

Identifying your product's ideal CES range

In order to set meaningful targets for improvement, it's important to identify your product's ideal CES range. This can be achieved by analyzing customer feedback and identifying areas of particular pain or friction.

For example, if customers frequently complain about the difficulty of navigating your website or mobile app, you may want to focus on improving the user experience in those areas. By addressing specific pain points, you can improve your product's overall CES score and customer satisfaction.

Aligning CES targets with overall business goals

Finally, it's important to ensure that your CES targets are aligned with broader business objectives, such as improving customer retention or increasing revenue. By tying your CES goals to your larger strategy, you can ensure that your efforts are contributing to tangible business outcomes.

For example, if your goal is to increase customer retention, you may want to set a target for reducing the number of customers who report high effort scores. By making it easier for customers to use your product, you can improve their overall satisfaction and increase the likelihood that they will continue to do business with you.

Overall, setting meaningful benchmarks and targets for your CES score is an important step in improving your product's overall customer experience. By analyzing industry standards, identifying your product's ideal CES range, and aligning targets with broader business goals, you can ensure that your efforts are focused on driving real results for your company.

Analyzing and interpreting CES results

With your CES data in hand, it's time to dive into analysis and interpretation. This involves identifying trends and patterns, understanding the drivers of high and low CES, and linking CES to customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Identifying trends and patterns in CES data

By tracking CES over time, you can identify patterns and trends that can provide valuable insights into the customer experience. For example, if you notice a consistent dip in CES after a product update, you may need to consider changes to the rollout process or better communication to users.

Another way to identify trends and patterns is to segment your data by customer demographics or behavior. This can help you understand if certain groups of customers are consistently reporting higher or lower levels of effort. For example, if you notice that customers who have been with your company for a longer period of time are reporting higher levels of effort, you may need to investigate if there are any systemic issues that are causing this trend.

Understanding the drivers of high and low CES

It's important to dig deeper into your CES results to identify the specific drivers of high and low scores. This may involve analyzing feedback from customers, conducting user testing, or reviewing analytics data to identify areas of friction.

One way to identify drivers is to ask open-ended questions in your CES survey that allow customers to provide more detailed feedback. For example, you could ask "What was the most difficult part of your recent experience with our company?" This can help you identify specific pain points that are causing high levels of effort.

Another way to identify drivers is to conduct user testing to observe how customers are interacting with your product or service. This can help you identify areas of confusion or frustration that may be contributing to high levels of effort.

Linking CES to customer satisfaction and loyalty

Ultimately, the goal of measuring CES is to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. By tracking correlations between CES and other metrics such as customer lifetime value or churn rates, you can demonstrate the impact of reducing customer effort on your bottom line.

For example, if you notice that customers who report lower levels of effort are more likely to renew their subscriptions or purchase additional products, you can use this data to make a business case for investing in efforts to reduce customer effort.

Overall, analyzing and interpreting CES data can provide valuable insights into the customer experience and help you identify areas for improvement. By taking action on these insights, you can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, and ultimately drive business growth.


While customer effort score may be a relatively new concept for some product managers, it's quickly becoming a critical metric for understanding and improving the customer experience. By implementing methods for collecting and tracking CES, setting meaningful targets, and analyzing the results, you can reduce friction and improve satisfaction, leading to increased adoption and retention.