Lessons From the Road: Tips to Create a Customer Service Technology Roadmap

Practical advice customer service and support leaders can use to build their technology roadmap.

As one company recently explained, it’s one thing to acquire new technology, but another to implement and adopt it for business gain. Service centers have long been a place for new technology and innovation, but the complexity can overwhelm and confuse service leaders.

It’s easy to listen to hype and overcommit to technology investments without fully understanding the true need

As part of our research on customer service technology, my team and I spoke with Gartner clients from various industries, geographies and team sizes to better understand their technology plans. From these conversations, four key themes emerged.

Leverage a dedicated staff

Most of the leaders we spoke with agreed that it is critical to have a dedicated project lead or team for creating a technology roadmap with cross-functional representation. Because many service functions do not own an entire technology area, no one really spends time conducting a thorough market scan and staying on top of the trends.

One client emphasized the importance of treating technology roadmapping as a major project, not something that is a side-of-desk activity.

Establish 5 key criteria to evaluate existing and emerging technology

The vast majority responded that they consider the following:

Gain critical buy-in from business partners to meet objectives

Your peers surfaced cross-functional buy-in as a key challenge for technology initiatives in service. This is a result of uneven levels of technology fluency within different teams and among different employees.

Additionally, many find it difficult to prioritize technology initiatives that would support critical service objectives. One client reported that when it comes to technology, it’s easy to listen to hype and overcommit to technology investments without fully understanding the true need for the company.

Course correction may be necessary

Peers acknowledge that they follow an annual cadence to refresh the roadmap with new priorities or technologies to ensure its relevance to changing market, customer and business needs. This is not a check-the-box activity.

Clients note that they regularly reassess their plans to validate or update based on changes in technology, business objectives, and customer preferences. In fact, many clients tell us that they do this on a yearly basis so that they can build business cases for investment in line with annual budgeting decisions. To ensure success, roadmaps — along with the service center — should be agile.

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Tiffany Fountain VP, Team Manager, leads the customer service and support research program for Gartner.

Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders clients can learn more in Ignition Guide to Building a Technology Roadmap for Service.