2021 Customer Service Trends and Priorities

Discover what’s top of mind for service & support leaders

What must customer service and support organizations focus on in 2021?

Each year, Gartner surveys hundreds of customer service and support leaders to identify their strategic priorities and investments for the year ahead, helping leaders more confidently benchmark their own strategic planning decisions. 

Attend our complimentary webinar for an in-depth look at where service leaders are focused as 2021 unfolds.

Service leaders top priorities for 2021: Digital channels and capabilities, Driving value through proactive service, VoC and customer experience across channels, and managing talent in the digital era.

Customer service and support leaders face increased pressure from leadership on the role of the service function in improving operational excellence and growing the business. Given this environment, it’s unsurprising that customer service and support leaders’ top 2020 priorities are rooted in customer experience (CX), managing talent and data.

Allegra Ubbes

Senior Specialist, Advisory, Gartner

Insights you can use

Are you looking for what service leaders are planning to focus on in 2021? Gartner surveyed service executives worldwide on their top business priorities. The results provide a comprehensive snapshot of which customer service trends and anticipated challenges service & support leaders are focused on for 2021. 

Priority 1: Continued Importance in Digital Channels and Capabilities

Customer service leaders feel a distinct pressure to meet customers’ expectations for digital service channels and keep pace with competitors’ service offerings. As a result, service leaders spend a disproportionate amount of time adding or integrating channels. However, our research finds that this creates a costlier, more complex network of channels to manage without improving the customer experience and insufficient reduction in live volume. Download this free guide to better position your service and support strategy for success.

More choice hurts your bottom line. This bar graph displays a breakdown of customer resolution journeys and journey costs. 9% only used self-service and 61% switched out of self-service to live/rep-assisted.
Pie chart displaying how 87% of customers did not receive proactive service and 13% received proactive service.

Priority 2: Driving Value Through a Proactive Service Model

As customer service organizations increase their digital footprint and launch new channels, the exploration into proactive customer service is on the rise. Implementing a successful proactive initiative can be difficult and costly without a strong understanding of customer preferences. 

Pie chart displaying how 87% of customers did not receive proactive service and 13% received proactive service.

Priority 3: VoC and Customer Experience Across Channels

Service leaders struggle to capture, share and generate value from VoC data. As a first step to improving, service leaders should evaluate their VoC process maturity. Watch Gartner experts Lauren Villeneuve and Sarah Dibble share their insights on why organizations need to place more emphasis on customer engagement tools to drive customer loyalty.

After the pandemic began, 71% of service leaders reported that 90% or more of their staff are working from home.

Priority 4: Managing Talent in the Digital Era

Due to the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus, remote work is suddenly an overnight requirement for many and may become more common for most post-pandemic. Customer service and support leaders who are considering establishing a work-from-home program as part of a business continuity plan, for rewards and recognition, to contain costs or offer support can use our roadmap to help speed up the process.

After the pandemic began, 71% of service leaders reported that 90% or more of their staff are working from home.

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Matthew Hurst, Senior Director of Client Services for DealerTrack DMS at Cox Auto, shares how Gartner helped Cox to optimize its service function by improving contact resolution and same-day resolution rates significantly. Through his access to Gartner's client partners, the client successfully changed the culture within his contact center, improved client experience and received the support to lead his function with confidence.

Gartner topic experts

The Gartner customer service and support research team includes experts worldwide.

Deborah Alvord
Sr Director Analyst

Jason Barberio
Sr Principal, Advisory

Amie Binning
Principal, Advisory

Kim Dans
Sr Director Analyst

Mark R. Dauigoy
Sr Director, Advisory

Philip Jenkins
Sr Director Analyst

Matthew P. Kiel
VP, Team Manager

Brian Manusama
Sr Director, Analyst

Devin F. Poole
Sr Director, Advisory

John Quaglietta
Sr Director Analyst

Andrew Schumacher
Sr Principal, Advisory

Peter Slease
VP, Team Manager

Allegra Ubbes
Sr Specialist, Advisory

Lauren Villeneuve
Sr Principal, Advisory

Gartner is a trusted advisor and an objective resource for more than 14,000 organizations in 100+ countries.

Our research helps service and support leaders optimize service structure and skills with the latest trends, opportunities and best-practice solutions that are shaping customer service functions across regions and industries