Gartner Eyes Customer Service Shift from Mobile Apps to Messaging

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Four in five customer service organizations will opt for messaging and abandon native mobile apps by 2025, Gartner concludes in an in-depth study of the technology landscape.

Messaging via text, multimedia, rich communication services, and third-party messaging apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat, and Facebook Messenger is replacing mobile apps as the preferred means of communication for customers, according to Gartner.

Additionally, customer service organizations will start adding “huddling” to proactive outbound interactions through messaging platforms. As a result, customer service will likely become a profit center, Gartner concludes in its “Predicts 2021: CRM Customer Service and Support” report.

Cutting-edge companies “are starting to bring together different people with different skills for a cross-functional team to work on a problem. That way, they gain more input so that they can be more agile in customer service,” says Philip Jenkins, Gartner senior director/analyst and co-author of the report.

Huddle groups can help companies address a challenge that Jenkins cites in the report: “In increasingly complex product and organizational environments, individuals, even at expert levels of the hierarchical customer service escalation structure, may not have the cross-domain fluency needed to address many customer requests successfully,” he says.

The huddle teams will include three to five company leaders from marketing, sales, digital, IT, or operations, Jenkins says. “You don’t want too many people in the group. You want enough input, but not everyone needs to be at every meeting.”

In developing huddle groups, organizations should clearly define group missions and determine the skills needed to meet those goals. Among the most important, huddle group participants need to be able to work effectively in a group environment, Jenkins says. “If you are missing [a skill], add someone. Subtract people if they’re not making effective use of their time.”

Some people might serve on several different huddle groups, with membership numbers depending on the issue being handled.

It’s also important to keep a tight focus during meetings, Jenkins adds. “You want to have a defined amount of time. You want to define what the challenge is, then outline the solutions.”

Related to the profit center predictions, Gartner forecasts that by 2025:

  • Forty percent of customer service organizations will become profit centers with a new focus on digital customer engagement.
  • Proactive outbound customer engagement interactions will outnumber reactive inbound customer engagement interactions.

Becoming a profit center won’t happen automatically, however. To achieve this goal, Gartner recommends the following:

  • Integrating messaging platforms with data management and analytic platforms to enable dynamic customer engagement by developing robust service offerings and prebuilt API and integrations for middleware.
  • Designing a proactive customer service process by understanding and focusing on customers’ needs and having a clear and valuable reason for proactive contact.
  • Balancing investments in reactive and proactive engagements.
  • Weighing the need for extreme self-service and assisted-service capabilities.

Beyond changes in technology, customer service organizations are also changing their personnel structures, developing unified roles, such as chief revenue officer, to incorporate the various and overlapping responsibilities of sales, marketing, and service/support, the report notes.

“All the changes need to be supported by technology,” Jenkins says. “Last year, we observed that customer service and support technologies have been acquired as separate investments, often by different decision makers with different goals. These investments are expected to enable consolidation of multiple best-of-breed or point solutions into broadening technology suites. This trend will continue to support customer service dilemmas.”

Gartner also urges organizations to prioritize a greater understanding of the customer journey and to provision contextual knowledge and decision insights driven by artificial intelligence. From the transactional to the mission-critical, the degree of focus on broader customer service ambitions will influence the scale and capabilities needed to achieve enterprise-wide CRM, Jenkins concludes.

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