Growing the business will be the top objective in 2019, along with improving operational excellence, according to customer service and support leaders responding to the Gartner 2019 Agenda Poll.
Customers today have higher expectations for digital experiences based on their interactions with other businesses
“Service centers are shifting their focus to become differentiators for the broader company,” says Valerie Streets, senior principal at Gartner. “To ensure both growth and operational excellence, leaders must not overlook the proliferation of digital technologies and growing customer expectations in the service space.”
Gartner identifies three imperatives for delivering digital customer service experience in 2019:
- Meet increasing internal pressures and accountability
- Prioritize and improve the digital experience
- Explore digital applications to improve operational efficiency
Meet increasing internal pressures and accountability
Under pressure from leadership to scale resources, service leaders feel a sense of urgency to adopt digital technology. These technologies, including automation or self-service, are meant to enhance the customer experience. Yet, several leaders responding to our survey report difficulty with managing technology and process transition.
Despite accountability for digital service offerings, more than half the leaders surveyed do not have ownership of their own websites. The remaining leaders typically share ownership with other functions — primarily marketing, IT and digital teams. This is particularly troubling given that about 40% of leaders report that indicators of digital service, such as website utilization, are among the most important metrics for their functions.
Prioritize and improve the digital experience
Customers today have higher expectations for digital experiences based on their interactions with other businesses — even those not seen as traditional competitors. Given these expectations, service leaders are often pressed to make trade-offs — leading to prioritizing investment in digital customer service and technology ahead of other initiatives, such as talent.
“With more customers turning to web-based service channels for assistance and demanding more ways to get help without contacting a service representative, service leaders feel the pressure,” says Streets. “New issues arise, like the concern that customers may have varied experiences across service channels.”
Explore digital applications to improve operational efficiency
The push for increased digital capabilities extends beyond the customer experience, as back-office automation and the ability to leverage big data are top priorities for service leaders. Seventy-six percent report that back-office automation is a high priority, and 71% indicate that big data is a high priority for the coming year.