The three customer service technologies of the futureby
Gartner has predicted the technologies that will have the biggest impact on customer service and support in the next five years. Are you investing in them?
Generative AI, digital customer service, and conversational user interfaces (CUIs) will transform customer service and support by 2028, according to a Gartner report.
But how did they come to these results?
With the current dearth of both fortunetellers and crystal balls, Gartner developed their own ‘Hype Cycle’ to provide them with a view of how a technology or application will evolve over time.
The Hype Cycle tracks a number of maturing customer service and support technologies – varying from embryonic (Customer Technology Platform), to highly-hyped (Generative AI), to mature yet with significant adoption opportunities still remaining (Contact Center as a Service).
The technologies are then separated into different stages of their lifecycle and ranked by how far advanced they are within each section. This provides a source of insight to manage their deployment within the context of a specific business goal.
It also allows clients to get educated about the promise of an emerging technology within the context of their industry and individual appetite for risk.
However, despite the plethora of technological advances within the customer service space, a worrying number fail to deliver on their potential – with more than half of the innovation profiles falling into what Gartner terms, “The Trough of Disillusionment”.
But what about the technologies that Gartner has tipped to succeed? What makes them stand out? And how can businesses begin implementing them?
Unsurprisingly, given its explosive surge in popularity in recent times, Gartner considers generative AI to currently be at its ‘Peak of Inflated Expectations’.
Yet, they do not see this as a flash in the pan, but rather as a major player in the future of customer service, predicting that by 2025, 80% of customer service and support organisations will be applying generative AI technology in some form to improve agent productivity and customer experience.
By 2025, 80% of customer service and support organisations will be applying generative AI technology.
It is within the CX sector specifically that Gartner believes AI will have the biggest impact, with a recent poll that they ran revealing that 38% of leaders see improving customer experience and retention as the primary purpose of initiatives to deploy applications trained on large language models.
Conversational User Interfaces
Another emerging technology that makes use of AI is Conversational User Interfaces (CUIs): human-computer interfaces that enable natural language interactions for the purpose of fulfilling a request, such as answering a question or completing a task.
CUIs are used to provide customer service agents with direct control over the applications they are operating. They are most commonly used to automate support via chatbots, helping to improve customer experience and self-service adoption.
Whilst Gartner considers the tech to be past its peak level of expectation, it still anticipates CUIs to be commonplace in the next five years.
In discussing the findings of the report, Drew Kraus – VP Analyst at Gartner – commented: “Customers increasingly expect to be able to interact with the applications they use in a natural way, and this has been accelerated by the emergence of large language model-enabled enterprise applications, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft 365 CoPilot.
“CUIs will be vital for driving efficiency and meeting customers’ changing expectations.”
Digital customer service
The phrase may seem a little generic, but when Gartner refers to digital customer service it is referencing the proliferation of digital engagement channels that currently exist – and a system that can seamlessly orchestrate these channels.
With the potential for multiple channels increasing customer effort as customers navigate between them, Gartner sees digital customer service as the emergence of a new area of customer care.
Digital customer service is the emergence of a new area of customer care.
For Kraus, digital customer service will be a vital tool in enhancing customer satisfaction and customer experience:
“Digital customer service will transform customer experience outcomes by reducing friction and eliminating unnecessary customer effort.
“By creating a seamless customer experience, this technology will reduce churn and enhance customer satisfaction.”
The future is now
While it is never wise to put too much stock in future predictions – five years ago no one would have prophesied a global pandemic, a war to break out in Europe, or the US Capitol Riots – staying abreast of the latest technological advancements is essential in any field.
And none more so than the customer service and customer experience sector, which is over-saturated with countless tech vendors all purporting to have the latest and greatest offering.
Gartner’s renown within the field and track record when it comes to CX technology is second to none, so when they throw their backing behind something it is wise to take note.
As Kraus puts it: “The common theme of these three technologies is their ability to streamline the customer journey and enable customer service leaders to meet customers’ growing expectations. Within the next five years, we expect these technologies to change the face of customer service and support.”