A guide to CES surveys – when to use CES instead of NPS scores?

Carla Vianna
Carla Vianna
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A guide to CES surveys – when to use CES instead of NPS scores?

Are you struggling to come up with ways to drive more customer loyalty? Research has shown that companies that deliver on basic promises and make things easy for customers drive more loyalty than those that focus on improving their overall experience.

Customer effort is seen as the strongest driver of customer loyalty. In fact, 94% of people going through an effortless customer service experience are likely to purchase from the brand again, versus only 4% of those who had a hard time solving an issue.

Moreso, 88% of customers that find it easy to deal with a brand are likely to spend more with them.

This is all to say that your attraction should be tracking a metric called Customer Effort Score, which measures the ease of interacting with your company.

In this post, we’ll walk you through finding your CES and using it to improve your guest experience.

What is customer effort score (CES)?

How do you measure CES?

What is a good CES score?

What is a bad CES score?

Average CES Scores by Industry

How often should you run CES surveys?

What’s the difference between CES, CSAT, and NPS scores?

When to use CES vs. CSAT vs NPS

What is customer effort score (CES)? 

The CES measures how much effort a customer has to exert to get an issue resolved with your company.

Whether they came to you with a problem or special request, a CES survey asks them to rate the ease of that interaction. This rating is typically done on a scale from 1 to 7, where 1 reflects the highest level of difficulty and 7 reflects great ease.

A CES survey can be sent to a guest after a meaningful interaction with your company online or with one of your team members.

If you wanted to find out how hard it is for a guest to request wheelchair assistance, for instance, you’d send them a CES survey following their request.

How do you measure CES? 

CES is measured through a single-question survey.

  • “[Your attraction] made it easy for me to solve my problem.” On a scale of 1 to 7, rate whether you “strongly disagree” or “strongly agree” with the statement.

In this case, 1 stands for a high level of effort from the guest’s end and is, therefore, a negative response, while 7 stands for little customer effort.

The final CES score is calculated by finding the average of all responses. Take the total sum of responses and divide it by the total number of survey respondents.

  • CES score = Total sum of responses / Number of responses

An attraction that gets a 7 is providing guests with effortless customer service. The higher the score, the better service you’re providing guests with.

What is a good CES score? 

There’s no clear industry standard for Customer Effort Scores since surveys can be worded differently.

For instance, some CES surveys may use smiling or frowning emoticons as responses. In that case, the company would look at the percentage of positive responses against the percentage of negative ones.

If you word your survey on a scale of 1 to 7, as we explained in this post, a higher score would allude to happier customers. In this case, some customer experience professionals consider a score of 5 or 6 to be the sweet spot.

What is a bad CES score?

On a 7-point scale, a score under 4 has plenty of room for improvement. Again, your CES is relative to the type of survey you’re using to measure customer effort.

If you’re receiving a lot of negative responses, you should try to learn more about the reasoning behind them. Consider adding an open-ended follow-up question that asks guests to explain what went wrong.

Your team can use this extra feedback to better address the issues.

Average CES Scores by Industry 

It can be difficult to find accurate industry benchmarks since companies use different scales to measure CES.

Nicereply, a customer experience software company, found that the average CES score for its customers is 5.5.

The best way to grow your score is to compare it to itself over time. As long as you’re continuously tracking and improving your own score, you’ll see your guest loyalty increase. 

How often should you run CES surveys?

CES surveys are used to measure how a guest feels about a specific moment — such as after buying a ticket on your website or calling your support team with a question.

Here are three instances in which you could follow up with a CES survey:

1. After a customer reaches out to your team and the interaction results in a ticket purchase

You’d send the guest a survey to understand if the process of speaking with your team and then purchasing a ticket was smooth.

This is an interaction that directly feeds into your bottom line since it resulted in a purchase. If there are any hiccups at this particular touchpoint, your company needs to address them.

2. Following a ticket refund request

Refunds can be a controversial and emotional topic in the tourism industry. Travelers spend a considerable amount of money on trips and experiences. If they request a refund, they’re hoping it’ll be a smooth and quick process.

If you have a guest reach out to your attraction for a refund, it’s in your best interest to know how the interaction went. Situations with money involved can get highly emotional, and you want to avoid leaving a guest upset.

3. After improving on a once-frustrating touchpoint, such as allowing guests to fill out digital waivers before their visit

Let’s say your attraction identified that having guests fill out their digital waivers as they came into your venue was causing long lines and delaying their experience. Guests were frustrated with the slow lines, and this set a bad tone for the rest of their experience.

Your solution was to create and send a digital waiver immediately after a customer books an experience on your website in Xola, so that guests can virtually sign before their visit. After putting this in place, you would send out a CES survey to see how guests are feeling about the new update.

What’s the difference between CES, CSAT, and NPS scores?

Customer Effort Score, Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), and Net Promoter Score (NPS) are proven methods used by businesses of all kinds to track customer loyalty and satisfaction. 

There are a few key differences between each metric:

  • CES: A survey used to measure the effort it takes customers to solve a problem or fulfill a request with your company.
  • CSAT: A survey used to track customer satisfaction about a particular interaction. CSAT surveys ask guests to rate their level of satisfaction from “very unsatisfied” to “very satisfied.”
  • NPS: A survey used to measure long-term customer loyalty by periodically asking “On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend [your attraction] to your friends and colleagues?”

When to use CES vs. CSAT vs NPS

All three metrics complement one another, and together, they can help your business identify key drivers of customer loyalty and satisfaction. Here’s a deeper look at how each metric can be used to improve your customer service.

Customer Effort Score

CES is typically used to measure one-off scenarios. Let’s say a guest requests a refund from your attraction. You would follow up with a CES survey to find out if the interaction was effortless.

Attractions can use this type of survey to discover high-friction touchpoints that are making guests unhappy. They can then quickly mitigate the issue before it impacts a guest’s overall perception of your brand.

Research shows that quickly solving customer problems has a significant impact on customer loyalty.

That being said, consistently positive CES results can indicate high customer loyalty.

Customer Satisfaction Score

CSAT surveys measure customer satisfaction following a meaningful interaction with your company. 

It’s best used to measure short-term reactions to a particular guest experience. The feedback you receive from CSAT surveys can help pinpoint problem areas within your guest journey, which you can then improve upon to reduce negative responses.

Once a guest purchases a ticket on your website, for instance, you can send them a survey asking “How satisfied are you with the ticket purchasing process on our site?”

Net Promoter Score

An NPS measures customer loyalty over time. It’s often considered the most important metric to track because brand loyalty is a driver for growth and success.

Attractions can use an NPS survey to understand what’s keeping guests coming back and what’s driving others away.

For instance, an NPS survey should be sent to guests immediately after their visit. On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are they to recommend the attraction to others?

Unlike with CES or CSAT surveys, in this case, guests will be rating their experience as a whole. They’ll take every interaction they’ve had with your company before, during, and after their visit into consideration as they respond.

An NPS helps attractions identify their most and least loyal guests. This gives them the chance to reach out to unhappy guests and try to make things better before losing them for good.


After reading this post, we hope that you see the value in measuring your CES.

Asking for customer feedback is never a bad idea, and doing so in a strategic manner can endlessly benefit your business. Consider using CES, NPS, and CSAT surveys to collect guest reviews moving forward.


Writer Carla Vianna

Carla Vianna

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