What Is Customer Effort Score And Why Does It Matter for Utilities?

October 27, 2022


There are three main customer experience metrics that utility providers should be tracking to determine how happy their customers are. These are Customer Effort Score (CES), Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT).

In this blog, we take a look at Customer Effort Score– what it is, how it is determined and why your utility should care about it. 

What is the Customer Effort Score (CES)?

Simply put, CES measures how easy it is for customers to interact with your business. Effort equates to work and could include tasks such as filling out forms, calling agents, sending in information, reading and searching, manually tracking data, to name a few.

If the effort a customer has to put in to buy a product, resolve an issue, or ask a question is too hard, they will be left dissatisfied with the service that you’re offering.

The good news is there’s a way for you to find out how much effort your customers must exert to interact with your utility and that is Customer Effort Score (CES). 

How to determine CES

CES is derived from a single question on your customer satisfaction survey that is delivered after a customer interacts with your organization. That question will usually take the form of:

Do you agree or disagree: [Company] made it easy for me to [recent action]. 

1 – Strongly disagree

2 – Disagree

3 – Nether agree or disagree

4 – Agree

5 – Strongly agree

Other examples of survey questions could include: “How much effort did it take to [recent action]?” or “How easy was it for you to [recent action]?”

The less effort required, the higher the CES score will be. 

Why does Customer Effort Score matter? 

The main reason that CES matters is that it tells you how capable your company is of meeting your customer’s need for easy service. But that isn’t all it does.

A low CES results in:

  1. Increased Negativity 

If a customer is frustrated with your business for being difficult, they are more likely to share their experience with friends and family and in reviews. They are also more likely to reach out to express their frustrations and even ask for compensation. This forces your agents to use their valuable time deescalating situations when they could be helping with other more important inquiries. 

Knowing your CES for individual interaction types can help you pinpoint issues and find solutions. 

  1. Increased Costs 

Similarly, the more complaints your customers make, the more communications you will have whether in the form of mail, email, chat or phone calls. And the more communications you receive the more staff you need to handle them. This results in higher customer service costs and reduces the bottom line. 

  1. Decreases Sales 

If a customer finds it too difficult to interact with your utility, the result can impact sales revenue. With tele-communications utilities, customers will quickly jump to alternative competitors when a contracted service renews. With water, gas, or electricity utilities, customers may have limited options regarding switching providers, however, when it comes to up-selling or cross-selling service products, these utilities may find customers hesitant to purchase.

How utility providers can improve CES 

There are a number of steps you can take to improve your customer experience but one of the most effective is implementing a customer service portal

That’s because many customers would rather use a self-service tool to solve issues themselves. By providing your customers with a self-service portal, you make it easier for them to find answers to their questions, minimizing the amount of effort they must put in to resolve their queries. 

For example, a self-service customer portal reduces customer effort involve in:

  • Checking an account balance
  • Paying a bill online
  • Monitoring utility usage
  • Finding out about service outages
  • Requesting service changes
  • And more…

As a bonus, providing your customers with self-service will further reduce the number of calls, emails and messages arriving at your call center. This means you can further reduce costs and give your agents even more time to focus on complex issues that can not easily be resolved through self-services. 

If you would like to find out more about how a customer service portal will improve your Customer Effort Score, contact silverblaze today.


It’s time to stop worrying about all the issues that come with low customer engagement, and instead, transform your operations to become the leading utility company in your area.

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