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3 Easy Ways to Improve Your Customer Effort Score (CES) with Online Community

Written by Elizabeth Bell on September 26, 2019 at 11:55 AM

Volunteers hand water to runners in a cross-country race

The Net Promotor Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) score, and the Customer Effort Score (CES) are the current trifecta of tools for measuring the customer experience. Together, each survey type provides a valuable, unique perspective on how your customers feel about their customer experience.

The Customer Effort Score is the newest of these survey tools and is gaining popularity as companies and customer experience experts uncover more of its value.

What exactly does the Customer Effort Score measure, and why does it matter?

The CES looks at how much effort a customer has to (or feels they have to) expend to complete an action. An easy, low-effort experience can lead to increased customer loyalty, and conversely, a high-effort experience can decrease customer loyalty, according to Gartner research. Reducing customer effort is also good way to boost your other scores, like NPS and CSAT.

For example, if a customer wanted to register for a webinar, the survey might ask “How easy was it for you to register for this event?” Answers to this question would help the company evaluate the registration pathway to reduce customer effort.

If the responses suggest high effort, they know there’s work to do to ensure customers continue to participate and engage instead of dropping off because of a difficult user experience.

Streamline Processes to Reduce Customer Effort

Knowing all of this, it makes sense that reducing customer effort and boosting CES across customer support and success processes are big on people's minds.

It can seem overwhelming, but the good news is there are several ways you can reduce effort across your processes. And when you're done, you can look forward to seeing those scores improve.

1. Bring your customers together in a dedicated, online space.

An online community, created for users of your product, is a high-effort buster for your customers. They're now connected to other customers, partners, and experts, helping them find what they need on their time, even if it’s after your customer support and success team's hours.

Customers can search in the community to see all the questions that have been asked, discussed, and answered in the past. They can post a new question if they find theirs hasn’t been asked.

Customers can bounce ideas off each other, ask about best practices, and troubleshoot, instead of going straight to customer success or support.

2. Create a knowledge base in your online community.

One big way to reduce effort for your customers is to put all your resources in one place, rather than storing them around your website or only providing them when they're asked for. Customers can search in the community's knowledge base for resources you’ve uploaded, finding what they need all in one place, so they don’t have to jump around to different web pages or apps or wait to get them from your team.

As a bonus, when customers do come to support, your team can often solve customers’ problem quickly just by linking them straight to a discussion or resource in the community.

3. Integrate your ticketing system and online community.

If customers can’t find their answer, or find it’s not something they’re able to resolve after peer problem-solving, they can go to support. The benefit of integrating your ticketing system and your community is that they can submit the whole thread as a ticket to support.

This makes it easier and faster for your support team to solve their issue, since they now have the whole backstory in one thread.

Your support team can even post a response in a community discussion thread when the issue has been resolved, or when your team is actively working on it, so that customers are aware right away (and to prevent further tickets or questions about the issue). 

For example, check out a recent example of how a Higher Logic support team member jumped in to our online community, HUG, to give customers an update on an issue they had asked about. 

Support staff jumps in to resolve issue in Higher Logic users group community

These processes also reduce effort for your customer support team and gives them more time to prioritize escalated cases.

Look to Online Community to Reduce Customer Effort

These ways to reduce customer effort flow from one thing: Online community as a central hub for your customers.

Using an online community streamlines customer support and customer success's processes, and it also improves the customer experience as a whole. The effects of reduced effort appear in your improved CES numbers, but they'll also show up in better NPS scores (improved customer advocacy) and greater customer satisfaction in CSAT results.

Community is a comprehensive solution that can connect departments and provide solutions for company-wide problems or solve multiple problems for multiple departments, like reducing customer effort. This may even reduce effort in your own departments, since multiple departments can now look to community as their hub.

Rachel Happe from The Community Roundtable describes community's impact in this way:

“Communities are complex, adaptive systems that can really address complex problems. Complex problems don’t have one answer. They have lots of answers.”

Curious to learn more? Our Customer Support Success Kit has all our favorite resources on how to improve your support processes and make the customer experience better. Check it out! 

Get My Success Kit

Note: If you’re curious about what’s a “good” customer effort score, it depends on how you’re structuring your survey. Learn more here.

Are there any changes that have worked for you to reduce customer effort? Join the conversation below. 

Topics: Customer Communities, B2B Communities, User Group Communities, Customer Experience, Customer Support, User Group Software, Customer Success, Online Community

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