How automation will transform the customer service industry

25 Feb 2020

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Forrester’s Kate Leggett examines how automation is changing customer service and how companies need to adapt to keep up.

As digital transformation continues, companies need think about how connected their customers are. These customers will compare service experiences not just with competitors but also with the best experiences that they’ve had with consumer brands. They broadcast poor experiences, which leads to abandoned purchases, lost sales and brand erosion.

Modernising customer service operations takes a long-term investment in AI and automation to better support customers. In Forrester’s new customer service report, we examine three major trends emerging in the customers service space.

1. Investment in automation will grow

Because AI can take over repetitive tasks and autonomously interact with customers, it allows agents to handle more complex interactions that require empathy and personalisation, empowers supervisors to manage their workforce more efficiently and allows companies to roll out products faster.

Companies will invest in more self-service technologies such as chatbots, knowledge management, communities, self-service process automation and robotic process automation. They will also increasingly adopt prescriptive AI scenarios to streamline inquiry capture, resolution, optimise case routing, classification and schedule management.

2. Modern agent desktops will become more advanced

As self-service and automation increasingly handles repetitive work, agent interactions will become escalation points for more complex issues. AI-infused agent desktop technologies will become more critical to optimise the outcomes of these rare human moments to connect with customers and nurture relationships.

Agent desktops must contain enhanced customer context for more one-to-one engagement, process guidance, channel switching, workspaces to facilitate collaboration and knowledge, and learning and training to allow agents to upskill.

3. Company culture will evolve

As customer service organisations adopt AI and automation, the nature of work will change. They will erode the need for lower-tier agents and increase the need for ‘super agents’. They will also create new jobs such as bot masters and conversational designers.

Staffing practices will change to better align with evolving expectations for work, such as the growing gig economy and remote working. Success measures will also change to better track customer engagement and retention. These culture changes will nurture longer-tenured jobs.

By Kate Leggett

Kate Leggett is vice-president and principal analyst at Forrester Research for customer relationship management and customer service. She is an accomplished public speaker and frequently presents at industry events such as CRM Evolution.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Forrester blog.