Thirty-seven percent of service leaders are either piloting or using artificial intelligence 'bots' and virtual customer assistants (VCAs), and 67% of those leaders believe they are high-value tools in the contact center, according to a survey by Gartner. This article is copyright 2019 The Best Customer Guide.

In recent years, no other channel technology has piqued customer service and support leaders' interest more than AI bots and VCAs, according to Gartner's Technology Roadmap Survey. In the survey of 452 service leaders across all industries and business types, respondents showed that confidence is leading more companies to adopt the technologies - with 68% of service leaders reporting they believe AI bots and VCAs will be of significant importance for them and their organizations in the next two years.

The research shows that deploying bots can deliver various benefits to the contact center, including:

  • Greater capability and scale
    AI bots are best equipped to resolve the simple issues customers are interested in self-serving in the first place. This allows service reps to focus on the more complex tasks and issues customers need direct help resolving.
  • Faster chat speed
    AI bots can drastically reduce customer wait time. For example, one company reported their chatbots responding to customer inquiries within five seconds of customer contact, while their typical service reps take an average of seconds.
  • Better gatekeeping
    AI bots can learn to recognize other bots trying to gain access to systems, thus freeing service reps to focus only on actual customers.

"While bots and VCAs are still emergent technologies, many service leaders have been impressed with their potential. As a result, we are seeing more adoption of these technologies into service technology portfolios," said Lauren Villeneuve, advisor at Gartner. "Service organizations that are integrating these technologies - both customer-facing and rep-facing systems - into their operations are using innovation and progressive strategies to ensure the success of the technology. AI bots and VCAs are relatively new in the customer service space, so it's critical that companies evaluate these technologies to ensure they are the right fit for their organization and customers."