Dissecting The Customer Effort Score (CES)

April, 2014

The Customer Effort Score (CES) has been found to be an accurate indicator of customer satisfaction and loyalty. Here we look at what might comprise a CES, and what could be done to optimise it.

The effort a customer must expend in achieving their goal for a contact session – measured as a Customer Effort Score (CES) – has been found to be an accurate indicator of customer satisfaction and loyalty, the ultimate aim of any customer-facing service.

Here we look at what might comprise a CES, and what could be done to optimise it, focusing on 3 key areas:

  1. metrics
  2. functionality
  3. agent training


CES is especially useful because it doesn’t rely on a post-interaction survey, but rather can be gleaned from various measures within the control of the contact center.

Which metrics might be useful input for a CES? Mainly those relating to customer wait time.

For voice interactions:

  • How long did the phone ring before it was answered (either by IVR or a live agent)?
  • Was the IVR easy to navigate? i.e. did they follow a linear path, did they get lost and backtrack, or did they ‘zero out’?
  • Once navigated, how long did they wait in queue for a live agent?
  • When talking to an agent, were they put on hold?
  • For how long?
  • How many times?

For text-based interactions (web chat, email, etc):

  • After initiating a chat session/ sending a text/ email, how long did they wait before an agent replied?
    Expectations are different depending on the channel. A recent survey* found that 59% expect resolution within 30 minutes when contacting customer services by phone, 52% expect to get resolution within a day via social media, and 75% expect resolution within a day via email.
    *The Omnichannel Customer Service Gap – Zendesk/ Loudhouse survey, Nov 2013
  • How long were they left waiting for agent responses?
  • How many questions/ answers were required before the customer was satisfied?

To implement improvements for real-time metrics, targets/ thresholds can be set and alerts primed to tell supervisors when the targets are under threat of being breached. For post-interaction metrics, reports must be generated and analysed to identify areas for improvement.


For voice interactions:

  • While in the queue, were they kept informed? (“You are number x in the queue”, “The current wait time is x mins”, etc)
  • Did they have the option to leave a message, or request a callback?
  • When transferring from IVR to agent or between agents, did they have to repeat info (security details, account number, etc)?
  • How many times?

Agent training

  • Was the agent able to satisfy the customer during the first contact (first contact resolution)?

In order to achieve this, a number of things must be in place:

  • Did the agent have access to the right information & systems?
  • Is the agent trained adequately to provide the required service?
  • If they couldn’t provide resolution themselves, did they have access to a remote knowledge worker who could help?
  • Did they have the right basic skills for the job? E.g. could they speak/ write clearly and intelligibly?

The combined answers to all these questions and more will give an informed insight into the consumer experience without the need for customer feedback. Armed with this, the contact center is in a good position to maximise efficiency and improve services so that customer effort is reduced and consumers are grown into brand advocates.

What We Offer

Sytel Limited develops and supplies Softdial Contact Center® (SCC) – multimedia, multichannel, fully blended cloud contact center solutions.

Available by subscription as CCaaS, fully managed and supported by Sytel, or for quick and easy deployment by partners and enterprise users.

All Sytel cloud components are secure, resilient and scale seamlessly from 10 agents to 10,000+, whether local, mobile or remote.

Flexible Contact Center Software

Softdial Contact Center™ – rich functionality, all-in-one, designed to deliver at scale

  • Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)

    CCaaS for subscribers – global service​, with no upfront costs

  • Contact Center Platform – CCaaS Partners

    Build your own CCaaS business using the power and flexibility of Sytel software

  • Contact Center Platform – Enterprise

    High performance platform to drive contact center productivity – cloud, on-premise or hybrid

Blended Media Desktop

Fully customisable, multi-channel, multi-session workspace

Work Anywhere

Browser-based tools, no software installation required

Customise, Localise, White Label

Design all user interfaces to individual requirements

Integration via APIs

‘Swap out’ components and integrate with 3rd party apps

World Class Development

Continuous evolution pushing technical boundaries


Softdial Contact Center™ (SCC) is designed to be flexible, extensible and scalable, integrating with any legacy equipment, and meeting the most complex of requirements.

All Media Channels

Voice, chat, email, social, etc – fully integrated and blended

Agent Multi-Tasking

Work with multiple live contact sessions of any media channel

Dynamic Workforce Management

Optimise agent usage and balance workloads in real-time without human intervention, across all media channels

Predictive Dialing

Best-of-breed performance under compliance

Optimised Inbound Routing

Smart rules and ‘best-available’ decisions to drive great customer service

Agent Scripts

Help agents achieve and maintain excellence

Voice and Screen Recording

See and hear exactly how agents are interacting

Analytics and Data Feeds

Measure and evaluate performance at every level

IVR, Bots & Conversational AI

Design effective automated flows or integrate with 3rd party providers

Customer Journey Tracking

Stored customer contact history, to aid routing and add context to conversations


Drive operational efficiency, increase customer satisfaction & improve agent performance

Softdial One™

Highly flexible unified web UI for agents, supervisors and administrators

Softdial Scripter™

Create complex process flow scripts for agents, IVR, chatbots and other applications

Sytel AI Dialer™

Maximum predictive dialing performance, under any compliance rules

Softdial Pathfinder™

Precise routing rules for ‘best available’ connection

Softdial Media Server™

Core telephony functions to manage all inbound/outbound SIP calls

Softdial Reporter™ 5

Fully customisable performance stats, charts and reports, across all channels

Softdial Publisher™

Comprehensive data output to build your own reports

Softdial Recording Monitor™

Audio and screen recording of agent activity to ensure the highest standards

Softdial Campaign Manager™

Automation to optimise any outreach strategy

Softdial Repository™

Central storage and configuration of common resources

Sytel Global Compliance™

Flexible ‘no contact’ rules to protect contact center and consumer


Performance and efficiency for a wide range of business applications

By Business Type


A full featured contact center software solution, designed for optimum performance at scale

Small/ Medium Business

Options for SMBs to subscribe to our full-featured cloud service managed and hosted by either one of our partners or by Sytel themselves

By Industry

Customer Service

Connect quickly to well equipped agents

Market Research

Best-of-breed predictive dialing with CATI integration

Debt Collection

Automated inbound/ outbound blending integrated with any debt management app

Sales & Telemarketing

Maximise agent productivity with best-of-breed predictive dialing


Secure, highly-configurable multichannel communications for excellence in patient care