The Top Five Customer Service Technologies
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, five customer service technologies are garnering most of the attention of customer service leaders, according to the Gartner Hype Cycle for Customer Service and Support Technologies 2020.
The research itself was conducted during the first few months of the pandemic, with some trends expected to continue even after it wanes, says Drew Krause, vice president of Gartner’s Customer Service & Support Practice.
Here are the five technologies that made the list:
1. CUSTOMER SERVICE ANALYTICS
Customer service analytics can help companies uncover a diverse range of insights that can be used to improve operational and individual agent performance. However, a challenge lies in building the business case because often the insights and financial gains cannot be revealed until the investment has been made.
“Companies moving to a broader digital enterprise realized that in order to drive adoption [of products or services], they need to know more about their customer,” Krause says.
Though some analytics vendors promote ease of use and some systems can create dashboards that provide at-a-glance details, companies will still need to employ data scientists to get what they want out of these systems, Krause says.
“The technology doesn’t just spit out answers. You have to invest in data scientists,” Krause says. “Companies are maturing in their recognition of that.”
Chatbots vary in sophistication, from simple, decision-tree-based marketing stunts to feature-rich platforms. They rely heavily on artificial intelligence, particularly natural language understanding and machine learning. While numerous companies have touted their chatbots’ AI capabilities, the technology is not as mature as vendors would like companies to believe, according to Krause. “A lot of companies have been disappointed by chatbots and have found it might be more of a virtual customer assistant or a glorified FAQ.”
Krause expects chatbot technology to mature and improve, but for now, companies that bought into it too early are paying for the hype. Companies will need to wait for broader and deeper AI capabilities to develop to drive more accelerated usage and benefits, he says.
3. VOICE-OF-THE-CUSTOMER (VoC) SOLUTIONS
Voice-of-the-customer solutions combine multiple, traditionally siloed technologies to capture, store, and analyze direct and indirect customer feedback. By integrating data from multiple VoC sources, companies can uncover subtler insights, drive accuracy, and ultimately instill more confidence in the actions taken at both the individual customer (such as an outbound call) and overarching strategic (such as a process change) levels.
4. VIRTUAL CUSTOMER ASSISTANTS (VCAs)
Virtual customer assistants allow organizations to scale the number of engagements they can handle, especially in the contact center. A voice-enabled VCA in a kiosk or automated teller machine can remove the need for typed interventions and create more interesting interactions for nontraditional audiences.
5. CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT HUBS (CEH)
Customer engagement hubs are architectural frameworks that tie multiple systems together to engage customers optimally. They enable both proactive and reactive communication, as well as personalized, contextual customer engagement—using humans, artificial agents, or sensors—across all interaction channels. They can also reach and connect all departments to enable synchronization of marketing, sales, and customer service processes.
Krause also expects most customer service agents to continue working remotely for a long time, which will prompt contact centers with high turnover rates to hire agents outside of more expensive urban areas.