Press Release


STAMFORD, Conn., March 10, 2021

Gartner Says Customer Service and Support Leaders Accelerate Self-Service Initiatives Due to COVID-19 Impact on Service Contact Volumes

Customer Service and Support Leaders Should Consider New Strategies to Mitigate the Consequences of Increased Live Contact Volumes

Customer service and support leaders are accelerating self-service initiatives to mitigate potential negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Gartner, Inc. More than 40% of customer service and support leaders have experienced increased service contact volumes compared to original 2020 projections due to the COVID-19 pandemic (see Figure 1.).

A Gartner poll of 106 customer service and support leaders in October 2020 found some differences between organization types in how service contact volumes deviated from original 2020 projections. For example, B2C organizations most frequently reported an increase in contact volumes compared to B2B organizations. Among leaders who reported a contact volume increase, 46% said the increase was equal across self-service and live service. Another 39% of respondents said it was mostly in live service.

“An increase in assisted channel contact volumes has wide-ranging impact on the service function – declines in customer experience, higher cost-to-serve and rep burnout,” said Devin Poole, senior director analyst in the Gartner Customer Service and Support Practice. “However, the silver lining has been customers’ increased willingness to self-serve. Service leaders need to take this opportunity to change customer behavior in order to mitigate the near-term impacts on experience and cost.” 

Figure 1: Impact of COVID-19 on Customer Service Contact Volumes

Source: Gartner (March 2021)

Many customer service and support leaders are altering the company’s website and mobile apps to prominently display customer support content, and/or investing in new digital channels.

“Migrating customers to self-service is long overdue and will alleviate cost and employee pressures, but simply adding more channels or functionality will have the opposite effect,” said Mr. Poole. “Instead, service leaders should focus their attention and investments on the end-to-end resolution journey and migrate key contact types to self-service channels. This has proven to drive more cost-effective customer behaviors while maintaining the service experience.”

Gartner Customer Service and Support Leaders clients can learn more in the report "How the COVID-19 Pandemic Impacted Contact Volumes and Self-Service Migration."

About Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders

The customer service and support function is vital to maintaining customer loyalty and influencing brand perceptions. Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders provides indispensable insights, advice and tools needed to achieve service and support leaders’ mission-critical priorities, specifically improving the customer experience while managing costs. Gartner’s research, advice and best practices equip customer service and support leaders to design an optimal service channel strategy; measure and reduce customer effort; and hire, develop and retain high-potential frontline talent.



About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) delivers actionable, objective insight to executives and their teams. Our expert guidance and tools enable faster, smarter decisions and stronger performance on an organization’s mission-critical priorities. To learn more, visit