The one metric to rule them all: Customer Effort Score

Launching a new product or service requires tremendous effort in defining the problem, crafting a solution, exploring alternates, and measuring impact. Yet it isn’t rare when despite having found a high impact solution to the problem, we find low adoption. This holds true for not only new launches but also any modifications to existing products or services that involves behavior change or added effort. My favorite example is that of European countries with varying organ donation rates. When speculating reasons for differences, reasons such as religion, culture etc. are often quoted. Yet in a paper by Eric Johnson and Daniel Goldstein, the reason lay, quite simply, in survey design. Most individuals irrespective of nationality or religion believe in the concept of organ donation and agree that it is important. Yet, when it came to action, everyone leaned towards the default option.

When a change in behavior requires one to do something different, sometimes as easy as ticking an extra box, the likelihood of adoption decreases. Yet in the world of HR, we rarely shy away from launching new processes, tools, surveys and numerous other interventions that require users to go through some, if not considerable, effort even if the benefits are disproportional to effort invested.

I recently came across this sentence in a Fast Company article and it stuck with me – THE BEST PREDICTOR OF BEHAVIOR IS EASE.

The world of marketing has often inspired me because they are miles ahead in understanding behavior and influencing it. Hence, it is only natural that I look to them to settle the dilemma of increasing adoption. They have a nifty metric called the Customer Effort Score, which comes down to a simple question: How easy was it?

Per the article, how customers answer explains one-third of their willingness to buy again, increase their business with the company, or rave about it to others. The Customer Effort Score is 12% more predictive of customer loyalty than of customer satisfaction.

When you shift the lens from that on marketing to that of the world of work, you realize it isn’t that the solutions are incorrect or not impactful. It is the addition of effort that makes them untenable. In today’s world of skewed work life balance, any additional effort has an exponential impact on adoption and yet it is a metric we continue to ignore.

Forget about a post implementation adoption metric measure. Take control pre-launch or modification and measure how many clicks, actions and minutes it takes to adopt the change. Measure the cognitive load on change and work on bringing it down to zero. Understand that even a reduction in effort involves change. Once you begin to measure Customer Effort Score and minimize it, lean back and enjoy the jump in adoption metrics and behavior change.

There you go–a magic bullet. Where are you implementing this next?

P.S: Qualtrics comes with an inbuilt survey template to help measure customer effort.


One thought on “The one metric to rule them all: Customer Effort Score

  1. That’s a great insight, Ankita. We can apply the same for employees or candidates. How easy it was to apply to job posting 🙂

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