Research firm Gartner released the results of its digital customer service trends survey this morning. The survey canvassed more than 500 customer service leaders to identify areas that could be improved to enhance the consumer's support experience online.
Lauren Villeneuve, an advisor at the firm, said the survey was necessary, given how technologically connected most businesses have become.
"The propagation of digital technologies and growing customer expectations in the service space are driving the need for greater digital capabilities and a more seamless digital experience," she said. "With increasing internal and external expectations, service leaders are on the line for mastering digital. Only then will they be able to truly differentiate their organization and help drive growth."
Prioritizing online customer support channels
Businesses of all sizes use websites, text messaging and social media to bolster their customer service capabilities. Whether through automated services or live chat on a company's website, digital customer service has become a metric for potential consumers to measure a company.
"Customer service organizations are rapidly adopting digital channels and capabilities," said Pete Slease, vice president at Gartner. "While this can be an effective means of fulfilling customer needs and expectations, a common mistake is expanding digital offerings without fully considering what aspects of the digital experience are most valuable to customers and service staff. Gaining these insights as soon as possible and then applying them to decision-making is critical to making the most of digital investments and successfully upskilling digital capabilities."
The survey also listed "customer-facing artificial intelligence, big data, customer activism and rising customer relationship management (CRM) costs" as priorities for customer service and support leaders this year.
Through its latest study, Gartner identified "four imperatives" that customer service and support outfits need to reckon with this year:
- Meet increasing internal pressures and accountability
- Gain ownership of websites' service functions
- Prioritize and improve the digital experience
- Explore digital applications to improve operational efficiency
According to the survey's findings, much of companies' issue with these four items stem from either difficulty managing their digital customer service solutions or not owning part or all of their service websites.
The survey also found that having to keep up with industry giants, "regardless of the product, service or industry," has proven to be an issue that often leads to "prioritizing investments in the digital experience over other initiatives."
Since a majority of customer service leaders polled said they felt "big data and back-office automation are high priorities this year," Gartner's survey suggests that companies need to collaborate with IT leaders to make their digital services more effective.