Customer service tech is paying off for brands

Behind-the-scenes virtual assistants are bolstering customer experience across industries.
5 March 2020

Chatbots are prominent in elevating customer experience. Source: Shutterstock

Technology today plays a key role in customer service – the rise of digital, always-on connectivity, social media and smartphones means when services or products don’t quite meet the mark, or assistance is needed, customers expect quick and flexible ways to communicate with brands to find a resolution.

Between 2018 and 2019, Gartner said investment into customer service technology increased a whole 10 percent to hit 55 percent in total.

That’s because the investments here pay off – with 80 percent of technologies deployed set to return more value in the next two years. 

With more organizations hopping on the bandwagon, Gartner’s Senior Principal of Advisory, Lauren Villeneuve, said: “it’s critical for service leaders to know which technologies to invest in and when, especially amid ever-tightening budgets.” 

According to Gartner, technologies that are generating the highest returns are those used in customer-facing platforms, including self-service and channel optimization. 

In particular, the more sought-after technologies are chatbots, virtual customer assistants (VCAs), and video conferencing; as for technologies that enhance communications channels, things like voice biometrics, and search engine optimization fall into the category. 

In how this looks in the real-world, Bank of America‘s virtual assistant Erica was deemed to be one of the first widely-available in the finance industry. The chatbot is available for free within the bank’s mobile app, at the ready to serve its 25 million mobile customers. 

Capgemini Research Institute found that VCAs in retail are valuable in increasing customer satisfaction. Up to 74 percent of customers rely on conversational assistants to research and purchase products. This is particulalry visible among mobile-first millennials, whereby two out of three use mobile to research gifts. 

VCAs open up new opportunities for retailers to meet customer service demands with less need for human workers. More advanced tools can also provide innovative value-adds; providing personalized style advice or recommendations, for example. 

The demand for these tools is such today, however, that most household brands will be expected to host at least some simple form of VCA.

But the innovation will continue, and tech companies and forward-thinking brands seek ways to enhance customer service abilities in ways that continue to satisfy users’ demand for flexibility. That could see them going beyond customer service, to enabling self-service.

Thanks to advances in biometrics, such as facial and voice recognition, customers could not only have simple requests for help resolved, but could deal with interactive, human-like virtual assistants that instantly recognize them when dealing with a brand help them pick products that suit their unique needs, preferences and style, and lead them towards a sale or longer term subscription.