5 Customer Service Tech Trends for 2020

April 22, 2020

Contributor: Kelly Blum

Adoption of customer service and support technologies continues to rise, even as budgets tighten.

Customer service and support leaders remain ever-optimistic about the promise technology holds for the service organization. From those that deliver on self-service to those that enhance the digital experience, new technologies play an integral role in the operations and future strategy of customer service organizations today.

The percentage of technologies fully deployed increased from 45% in 2018 to 55% in 2019

“Service leaders are backing their optimism with steady investments in established and emerging technologies, both customer-facing technologies and those that help streamline back-end processes,” says Lauren Villeneuve, Senior Principal, Advisory, Gartner. “As they continue to invest, it’s critical for service leaders to know which technologies to invest in and when, especially amid ever-tightening budgets.”

The Gartner Technology Trends in Service 2020 report reveals that the most active areas of investment and deployment aren’t necessarily the technologies that service leaders have identified as the most valuable. The report highlights five key trends in value and adoption throughout service and support technologies.

Trend No. 1: Leaders remain bullish on technology

Service leaders are optimistic about technology and committing investment to it. In just two years, the percentage of technologies fully deployed increased from 45% in 2018 to 55% in 2019. Service leaders also expect these investments to increase in value — with 80% of technologies deployed expected to return more value in the next two years than they do now.

Trend No. 2: Returns aren’t immediate

Service technologies that have been deployed for more than two years deliver the most value. This means customer service and support leaders are wise to expect relatively lower ROI during the first two years of deployment. Amid increasing pressure to demonstrate immediate returns from significant investments, customer service and support leaders must exercise caution when setting expectations, both their own and those of other leaders, on when returns will be realized.

Trend No. 3: Self-service is king

The technologies that command the most investments are those related to customer-facing channels, such as self-service, and channel optimization, according to Gartner. Investments continue to grow in web chat, chatbots/virtual customer assistants (VCAs) and video conferencing, as well as technologies that optimize channels, such as search engine optimization, voice biometrics and co-browsing/collaborative interfaces.

Trend No. 4: Rep-facing technology holds promise

Customer service and support leaders report seeing the highest ROI — current and anticipated — from technologies that support back-office operations and optimize rep performance. These include technologies such as workforce management/scheduling software, assistance and task management, learning management systems and unified communications.

When customer service reps feel the systems or tools they use enhance their ability to handle customer issues and simplify their day-to-day work, their productivity can increase by up to 20%, customer satisfaction increases by 11% and customer effort decreases by 9%.

Trend No. 5: Analytics, yet to peak

Despite a desire to pursue and adopt new analytics technologies (predictive, social media, digital, text and speech, etc.), customer service and support leaders are often held back by staff capacity and expertise or budgetary limitations. In fact, 50% of customer service and support leaders indicate they view analytics technologies as being potentially valuable to their operations, but have no current plans to implement them due to limitations.

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