Emerging digital trends are top of mind for customer service and support leaders in 2019, according to a recent survey by Gartner, Inc. Customer-facing artificial intelligence (AI), big data, customer activism and rising CRM costs are key priorities for customer service and support leaders this year.
However, the survey of 533 customer service leaders also showed a low-preparedness level to address these issues, despite the rising pressures to increase digital capabilities and enhance the digital experience.
“The propagation of digital technologies and growing customer expectations in the service space are driving the need for greater digital capabilities and a more seamless digital experience,” said Lauren Villeneuve, advisor at Gartner. “With increasing internal and external expectations, service leaders are on the line for mastering digital. Only then will they be able to truly differentiate their organization and help drive growth.”
Gartner identified four imperatives that customer service and support leaders must address for delivering digital customer service in 2019:
- Meet increasing internal pressures and accountability: Service leaders are adopting digital technologies to help alleviate pressure from leadership to scale resources. While these technologies, including automation, are geared to improving the customer experience, many service leaders report they struggle with managing technology.
- Gain control over service website: More than half of service leaders report they do not have ownership of their service websites. Those that do have ownership report they share that ownership with another function (typically marketing, IT or digital teams).
- Prioritize and improve the digital experience: Customers today expect always-on service from every company they interact with, regardless of the product, service or industry. Given these heightened expectations, service leaders are faced with the difficult task of making trade-offs — often prioritizing investments in the digital experience over other initiatives, such as upskilling talent.
- Explore digital applications to improve operational efficiency: More than 70 percent of customer service leaders indicate that big data and back-office automation are big priorities for the year. As such, service leaders must work closely with IT leaders to enhance their teams’ digital capabilities and improve operational efficiency.
“Customer service organizations are rapidly adopting digital channels and capabilities,” added Pete Slease, vice president at Gartner. “While this can be an effective means of fulfilling customer needs and expectations, a common mistake is expanding digital offerings without fully considering what aspects of the digital experience are most valuable to customers and service staff. Gaining these insights as soon as possible and then applying them to decision-making is critical to making the most of digital investments and successfully upskilling digital capabilities.”
Additional details on Gartner’s top priorities for 2019 are available to Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders clients in the report 2019 Outlook: 4 Challenges With the Digital Customer Service Experience.
About Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders
The customer service and support function is vital to the satisfaction and loyalty of a company’s customer base. Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders provides indispensable insights, advice and tools needed to achieve mission-critical priorities, improve the customer experience and contain costs. Gartner’s research, advice and best practices equip customer service and support leaders to reduce customer effort, optimize service channel strategy, and hire, develop and retain high-potential frontline talent.