A survey of nearly 250 customer service and support leaders across the globe by research firm Gartner revealed five emerging trends in technology adoption, and where service organizations are getting the best return on investment (ROI) today. This article is copyright 2020 The Best Customer Guide.

The company found that technology plays an integral role in the operations and future strategy of service organizations, from self-service to improving the customer service rep experience and, according to Lauren Villeneuve, senior principal in Gartner's Customer Service & Support Practice, "Knowing which technologies to invest in and when is critical for customer service and support leaders, especially those managing ever tightening budgets."

The five emerging trends revealed by the survey were:

  1. Service and Support Leaders Are Bullish on Technology
    Gartner research shows that customer service and support leaders are not only vocally optimistic about technology for 2020, they are backing their optimism with action. Deployment of technologies has increased to 55% of respondents, up 10% from 2018. In addition, customer service and support leaders believe these investments will increase in value - with 80% of technologies deployed expected to return more value in the next two years than they do now.
  2. Returns Aren't Immediate
    Service technologies that have been deployed for more than two years deliver the most value, according to Gartner. This means customer service and support leaders should expect relatively lower ROI during the first two years of deployment. Amid increasing pressure to demonstrate immediate returns from significant investments, customer service and support leaders must exercise caution when setting expectations on returns.
  3. Self-Service and Channel Optimization Command the Most Investments
    Gartner research shows the technologies that command the most investments are those related to customer-facing channels, such as self-service, and channel optimization. Investments continue to grow in web chat, chatbots/virtual customer assistants (VCAs) and video conference, as well as technologies that optimize channels such as search engine optimization, voice biometrics or co-browsing/collaborative interfaces.
  4. Rep-Facing and Back-Office Technologies Hold the Most Promise
    Customer service and support leaders report seeing the highest ROI - current and anticipated - from technologies that support back-office operations and optimize rep performance. These include technologies such as workforce management/scheduling software, assistance and task management, learning management systems and unified communications. When customer service reps feel the systems or tools they use enhance their ability to handle customer issues and simplify their day-to-day work, their productivity can increase by up to 20%, customer satisfaction increases by 11% and customer effort decreases by 9%.
  5. Analytics Have Promise and Limitations
    Despite a desire to pursue and adopt new analytics technologies (predictive, social media, digital, text and speech), customer service and support leaders report they are often held back by staff capacity and expertise or budgetary limitations. In fact, 50% of customer service and support leaders indicate there are analytics technologies that they view as being potentially valuable to their operations, but they have no current plans to implement them due to limitations.

Additional details about the Technology Roadmap Survey and the Service Technology Bullseye have been made available to Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders clients in the report, Technology Trends in Service 2020.