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7 Ways to Actually Improve Customer Effort Score

By Camila Martinez-Granata

Customer experience is king in telecom, and brands are taking more steps to prioritize their customers. Last year, a Sitel group study revealed that 70% of telecom companies consider CX one of their top priorities. It’s no secret why–effective CX increases retention, decreases churn, and helps brands stand apart from the rest. Considering that unplanned churn leads to nearly 90 million customers switching providers every year, telecom brands need every competitive advantage they can get.


To prevent customers from leaving for competitor brands, it is critical to accurately measure and track customer satisfaction. There is a myriad of customer satisfaction metrics to consider, but in this blog, we will examine an oft-ignored metric that is not only indicative of customer satisfaction but your CX operational efficiency as a whole: Customer Effort Score (CES).


Read on to learn more about CES, and how telecom brands can take effective steps to improve their score–and overall CX in the process.

The many ways customer satisfaction is measured


CES isn’t the only metric telecom brands utilize to measure customer satisfaction. While it’s an important component all telecom brands should implement and measure, there are several other key metrics to also incorporate. They include the following CX metrics:


  • Churn rate: Statistica recently calculated the average telecom industry churn rate to be 21%. If your brand’s churn rate is higher, consider this your canary in the coal mine. Besides price, customer experience is the most significant factor for customers considering switching telecom carriers–80% of customers switch brands because of poor customer experience.


  • Net promoter score (NPS): NPS is a quantitative brand loyalty metric calculated by measuring long-term, loyal customers against disloyal customers who defect to another brand. On average, the telecom industry has a notoriously low NPS, landing at a score of 31. While NPS remains a challenge for telecom companies, many have taken steps to improve their score–and in doing so, can increase revenue, reduce churn, and lengthen a customer’s lifetime value.


  • Customer satisfaction score (CSAT): Inversely, CSAT is a short-term qualitative satisfaction metric measured by surveying customers after specific purchases, events, or interactions. CSAT is best used to hone in on pain points or upsell opportunities other metrics might miss–60% of customers would buy more of a product after a positive experience. For example, a cable company might regularly track CSAT for seasonal promotions or during the holiday season. Doing so can offer insight into whether the success of a campaign, promo package, or marketing strategy was effective.


  • First contact resolution (FCR): FCR is the rate at which customer questions or issues are resolved within the first attempt. Not only does a high FCR correlate to higher customer satisfaction, but it is also an excellent indicator of a CX team's operational efficiency. For example, if an internet company’s call centers are able to avoid transferring customers from agent to agent–or not being available altogether–their customers are more likely to have their issue resolved with just one phone call.


  • Average resolution time: Average resolution time measures the time from how long an issue was first brought up until it was completely resolved. Similar to FCR, average resolution time is indicative of both customer satisfaction and efficient CX teams. The lower the average resolution time, the faster a customer’s needs will be met–which is an important indicator of strong CX. 

Customer Effort Score isn’t just a number


Customer Effort Score (CES) indicates how much effort a customer exerted to resolve their issue. This is measured by asking customers about a specific task or event, and how easy it was to accomplish on a scale of 1 to 7. The higher the score, the easier it was to complete the task. Once all responses are compiled, CES is simply the percentage of customers who gave a 5 or above.


CES is a key metric in telecom because, as a recent Gartner study revealed, effort directly correlates with loyalty. 96% of customers who experienced a high effort interaction became disloyal, compared to only 9% in low effort interactions. 


Simply put, life is hard enough, and customers are eager to reward telecom companies that prioritize making their lives easier.


Some of the other benefits of a strong CES score include:


  • Improved NPS: High-performing, low-effort companies scored an average of 65 NPS points higher than their high-effort competitors.


  • Higher repurchasing rates: Making your customer’s interactions effortless increases the likelihood they’ll buy from you again. In fact, 94% of customers with low-effort interactions intend to repurchase compared with 4% of those who experienced high effort.


  • Lower operational costs: Low-effort customer interactions mean fewer repeat calls, fewer escalations, and ultimately, lower operational costs. On average, high-effort interactions cost 37% more than high-effort interactions.


  • Increased employee retention: Low-effort interactions also benefit your contact centers as well. Contact agents that provide positive, low-effort experiences to customers are more satisfied with their work and are 17% likely to remain at their job.


7 ways to improve CES–for real


  1. 1. Make surveys easy: A low-effort mandate should apply to all customer interactions, including surveys. The easier your brand makes answering surveys, the more likely customers will complete them.


  1. 2. Optimize surveys for omnichannel feedback: Your customers are not one-size-fits-all, so your communication channels shouldn’t be either. Creating surveys that are consistent across multiple channels may be challenging, but ensuring all customers feel accommodated will yield more comprehensive feedback.


  1. 3. Invest in agent training: Contact centers are the backbone of any CES strategy, so your agents should be well-versed in your brand's services, business fundamentals, and how to escalate heated interactions.


  1. 4. Implement in-the-moment coaching: A knowledgeable agent will be capable of handling most interactions, but the most challenging interactions may require dynamic in-the-moment coaching. Using assistive technology, difficult interactions can be flagged in real-time, allowing supervisors to intervene before it spirals out of control.


  1. 5. Encourage agent efficacy: Agents that are properly trained and supported by their supervisors are more than capable of handling challenging interactions on their own–and brands should encourage them to do exactly that. Efficacy can be further improved by providing direct, easily accessible feedback after every interaction. Not only will this drive agent engagement, but encourage self-correcting behavior.


  1. 6. Integrate CES and quality assurance: A disconnect between your brand’s internal QA metrics and customer feedback may be hampering your CES without you even realizing it. By integrating the two on a single scorecard, brands can quickly identify any disconnects and course-correct.


  1. 7. Leverage real-time analytics: To glean rapid, more effective behavioral insights, consider elevating your CES with real-time analytics. By supporting customer experience teams with updated customer information in real-time, they will be further empowered to make their own decisions and increase CES and FCR.

3 Telecom brands that can benefit from better CES


  • AT&T: Say AT&T wants to gauge whether existing customers would find value in bundling their existing service with an HBO MAX subscription. First, they would need to conduct thorough research by collecting feedback. To achieve this, AT&T could optimize surveys so they are consistent across all channels, like email, website, and mobile. Then, AT&T could leverage a customer’s usage data to determine which communication channel would produce the most effortless–and accurate–feedback.


  • Century Link: For brands that cater to small businesses, like Century Link, providing a consistent and effortless customer experience is paramount. For example, a Century Link QA audit in the first quarter might indicate a business has reliable internet service. A few months later, a frustrated business owner calls to complain an internet outage has affected their business. To ensure this doesn’t happen again, Century link can integrate their QA and CES feedback into a single view so they can identify inconsistencies in their QA processes and prevent future issues.


  • Dish: The old proverb “hope for the best, prepare for the worst” is especially relevant in telecom. Even if brands like Dish implement proactive CES strategies, challenging customer interactions are an inevitability. For example, an irate customer calls to complain they canceled their service but were charged anyway. A Dish agent that has been properly trained in de-escalation tactics will have a better chance of salvaging the interaction; if need be, a supervisor could step in for in-the-moment coaching. Finally, allowing that agent to reimburse the customer directly will improve FCR, average resolution time, and overall CES. With robust training, guidebooks, and strong supervisor support, agents can move the CES needle in the right direction.  

Make life easier for your customers with Scuba

Streamlining customer journeys to provide the best experience possible is key to increasing retention and loyalty. Your brand likely already knows this–but so do your rivals. How will your brand stand out from the crowd in such a competitive market? 


Simple: Scuba Analytics.


Scuba Analytics is a customer intelligence tool that harnesses the power of your telecom customer data to improve your customer loyalty and reduce churn. It enables you to:


  • Get real-time analytics across all metrics to understand the customer experience. 
  • Understand your customer needs and expectations in real-time.
  • Spot opportunities to reduce churn and friction.
  • Track your retention analytics via intuitive dashboards.
  • Ask new questions as they arise without needing the help of IT or data science teams.

Want to learn more about how Scuba can improve CES? Request a demo today or talk to a Scuba expert.

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