It’s becoming a more familiar pattern — customers engaging with multiple channels simultaneously. It will be far more common for a video-based customer support agent to also share the user interface or for a chatbot to be used by the customer support agent while conversing with the customer.
By 2021, 15% of all customer service interactions will be completely handled by AI
Organizations have spent almost a decade integrating channels to provide users with seamless access, but that omnichannel approach has left 85% of organizations with fragmented customer engagement channels, leading to inconsistent customer experience (CX). Today, Gartner observes a shift in customer expectation: A “postchannel” world in which multiple forms of interactions blend together to create the best CX. This could mean customers speak to an AI agent and use web apps through text messaging at the same time.
“By 2021, 15% of all customer service interactions will be completely handled by AI, an increase of 400% from 2017,” says Olive Huang, research vice president at Gartner.
As a result of this shift, customer service and engagement leaders will be looking to technology to deliver this desired CX to clients. Gartner Hype Cycle for CRM Customer Service and Customer Engagement, 2018, describes the most critical technologies for supporting customers as they seek answers, advice and/or resolutions to problems — either through digital channels or by enabling customer-facing employees to deliver the resolutions and advice.
Gartner has grouped the most critical technologies into four focus areas
- Customer analytics and continuous experience. Technical capabilities at various states of maturity come together to bring service leaders a full picture of the CX. These include customer journey analytics, emotion detection, customer engagement center (CEC) interaction analytics, speech analytics and analytics for customer intelligence. They enable service leaders to visualize and connect the customer journey across multiple channels and devices. They also help service agents predict customer behavior or next action and prescribe the next-best action for agents to take.
- Employee training, motivation and experience. As the percentage of interactions handled by humans drops, the importance of the remaining interactions rises. Organizations are increasing their efforts to improve employee engagement. In previous years, the deployment of AI was purely focused on reducing human support. Now it has the added dimension of augmenting the human agent.
- Mobile customer service, consumer messaging apps and customer self-service. As customers increasingly use mobile devices, these technologies will enable them to perform all critical tasks on their device of choice, supported by integrated chat, messaging and conversational capabilities. Self-service can drive down costs and provides more independence to the customer by increasingly relying on voice-driven applications and advanced, contextual content. The increased level of convergence in these three areas can now deliver the future vision of digital customer service, thanks to the advancement of AI-supported workflow, increased sophistication of vendors supporting various messaging methods and innovation in conversational user interface (UI).
- AI, IoT, VCAs and chatbots. Customers today expect more from virtual customer assistants (VCAs) and chatbots. At the same time, the failure of many organizations' pilot projects has cast doubt as to whether these technologies can mature enough to have a significant impact. Gartner predicts the underlying technology and methodologies used to develop bots and VCAs will evolve rapidly over the next few years, as will user expectations and use cases. AI will be embedded in chatbots, VCAs, conversational UI and the IoT. This will drive deeper use of self-service.