What is a customer effort score (CES)?

Published on the 9th of August 2020

In short, a customer effort score (CES) measures how much effort it takes for a visitor or customer to complete a certain task. To get a CES score, you ask how easy it was for someone to complete a certain task.

Some good Customer Effort Score example questions

It's nice to ask 'How easy ...' instead of 'How difficult ...' because that feels more positive towards customers. Here are some examples:

"How easy was it to find this product?"

"How easy was it to set up your profile section?"

"How easy was it to create a new API key?"

"How easy did [Your company name] make it to complete this order?"

Alternatively you can ask How much effort did it take you to ... but we won't recommend it as it feels a little unnatural.


A Customer Effort Score can be measured using a 5 point scale. So you can either use the 5 scale emoji survey or a 5 star survey.

Calculating the Customer Effort Score

Long story short: we calculate this for you and you can view this score, as well as how it progresses over time, in the Freddy Feedback Dashboard.

It's an average score, so if you want to know your CES for all your customers that gave feedback, this is how you calculate it:

Example: let's say you have a total of 17 responses
Number of responses Gave this score Response x score Total
6 5 6 x 5 30
2 4 2 x 4 8
4 3 4 x 3 12
3 2 3 x 2 6
2 1 2 x 1 2
Total 58

Then you take the total of 58 and divide it by the total number of responses, so 58 / 17 = 3.4 out of 5. Not bad, but do look for things to improve in your customer's comments ;-)

Measuring CES using emojis

This is actually a really nice, fresh and friendly way. It's much more engaging than a standard 1 to 5 scale with numbers.

Feedback Emoji Angry Face Feedback Emoji Frowning Face Feedback Emoji Smiling Face Feedback Emoji Grinning Face with Smiling Eyes Feedback Emoji Smiling Face with Heart Eyes

Or more traditional using a 5 star scale

Star rating Star rating Star rating Star rating Star rating

How long should I measure CES

Just like NPS and CSAT scores, this is a long term metric. You can still look at individual responses and take action on that feedback, but you should set your question right and then track this score over time.

This way you can measure whether you're improving and reduce the amount of effort it takes customers to complete a task. You can monitor multiple things at once with multiple surveys (for instance: onboarding and purchase experience) so you stay on top of the most important aspects of the customer journey.

Difference between Customer Effort Score (CES) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Score

The difference between is what you measure: customer effort or customer satisfaction, and thus how you ask the question. Given that CSAT measures satisfaction, the questions are more oriented to find out how happy customers are, like 'How satisfied are your with your purchase experience today?'. We wrote about the CSAT score here.

Lastly we would say: don't get too hung up on abbreviations. We gave the same advice when writing about NPS scores. There are many industry terms, and sometimes people focus too much on the metric name vs focussing on their customers.

We strongly believe that the more natural you ask your questions the better. Just think of it like talking to a friend. Your customers will feel appreciated that you asked them about their experience, and they'll be more inclined to give you feedback.

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