Gartner Top 3 Priorities for Customer Service Leaders in 2020

Benchmarking against peers’ priorities can help customer service leaders shape their own strategies for 2020.

The top three challenges for customer service leaders in 2020 are delivering high-quality customer service experience, prioritizing digital investment, and difficulty implementing and managing technology and process transitions, according to customer service and support leaders responding to the Gartner 2020 Agenda Poll.

To overcome these and other challenges, service leaders’ top three priorities in 2020 are:

  • Digital channels and infrastructure
  • Customer service representatives
  • Data, voice of the customer (VoC) and customer service metrics

“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,” says Lauren Villeneuve, Senior Principal, Advisory at Gartner. “Given this environment, it’s unsurprising that customer service and support leaders’ top 2020 priorities are rooted in customer experience (CX), service reps and data.”

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Priority 1: Digital channels and infrastructure

Service leaders face mounting pressure to provide customers with more digital and self-service offerings. In response, service organizations add and integrate more self-service offerings into their portfolios, hoping these new investments will displace costlier live contacts and improve CX. However, this ends up costing organizations more money, and brings little improvement across customer experience metrics.

“To truly tackle this issue, service leaders must progress beyond adding new channels and capabilities to making the functional transformation into a self-service dominate organization,” says Villeneuve. “By dedicating human capital, auditing existing self-service channels and building a pipeline of issues to migrate out of live channels, service leaders can begin progressing toward a self-service-dominant organization.”

Read more: Rethink Your Customer Service Strategy to Drive Self-Service

Priority 2: Customer service representatives

The role of the customer service rep is changing. Self-service channels are now resolving simple issues that reps traditionally answered, such as password resets or basic how-to questions, leaving reps with the more complex issues to resolve. As a result, service leaders are left wondering who they should be hiring in this new era of customer service, where every issue coming into their live channels seems to be complex.

Gartner research identifies seven types of frontline reps currently across the customer contact function. Of these seven types, “controller” reps outperform all other types of reps in delivering a low-effort service experience and succeed because they naturally provide what customers want in today’s complex and information-rich world.

Encourage feedback, reward contribution and create a network judgment climate in which reps feel trusted and influential

Another area of challenge for service leaders is rep engagement and retention. In fact, 56% of service leaders agree that they will face difficulty attracting and retaining high-quality reps in 2020. This means that service leaders will struggle with the extent to which employees commit to giving more than the minimum required effort and how long they stay as a result of that commitment. 

“As service organizations shift from a productivity-focused model to a quality-driven environment, service organizations must ensure that their reps remain engaged,” says Villeneuve. “To engage and retain reps, Gartner recommends that organizations define and measure rep engagement, provide reps a clear path for career progression, encourage feedback, reward contribution and create a network judgment climate in which reps feel trusted and influential.” 

Priority 3: Data, VoC and customer service metrics

Customer service functions collect and analyze data on customers’ service preferences, behaviors and experience, and try to use the insights to inform service improvement efforts. However, many service leaders struggle to capture, share and generate value from VoC data.

VoC data can be captured in many ways, but to gather and analyze VoC to identify actionable insights and improvement opportunities for service, Gartner recommends a three-step approach:

  1. Gather effective VoC data: Set clear, narrowly focused VoC objectives and gather targeted data to generate actionable insights.
  2. Analyze VoC data to identify improvement opportunities: Evaluate customer data gathered from various sources to identify the root causes of customer feedback and determine corresponding improvement opportunities for service, as well as other functions.
  3. Communicate improvement opportunities based on VoC findings: Communicate the VoC findings with business partners and customers, and build transparency into the initiatives planned for addressing the areas of concern.

This article is based on insights that are part of an in-depth collection of research, tools, templates and advice available to Gartner clients. Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders can learn more in the reports Delivering on the Digital Promise, The Portrait of the New High Performer and Capturing Actionable Voice of Customer (VoC).

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