Twenty-five percent of customer service and support operations will integrate virtual customer assistant (VCA) or chatbot technology across engagement channels by 2020, up from less than two percent in 2017, according to Gartner.
More than half of organisations have already invested in VCAs for customer service, says the research firm, as they realise the advantages of automated self-service, together with the ability to escalate to a human agent in complex situations.
“As more customers engage on digital channels, VCAs are being implemented for handling customer requests on websites, mobile apps, consumer messaging apps and social networks,” said Gene Alvarez, managing vice president at Gartner. “This is underpinned by improvements in natural-language processing, machine learning and intent-matching capabilities.”
Organisations report a reduction of up to 70 percent in call, chat and/or email inquiries after implementing a VCA, according to Gartner research. They also report increased customer satisfaction and a 33 percent saving per voice engagement.
“A great VCA offers more than just information,” said Alvarez. “It should enrich the customer experience, help the customer throughout the interaction and process transactions on behalf of the customer.”
A 2017 Gartner survey found that 84 percent of organisations expected to increase investments in customer experience (CX) technology in the year ahead.
Gartner has also predicted that by 2019, 20 percent of brands will abandon their mobile apps. Brands are instead now investing to build presence in consumer messaging apps, such as Facebook Messenger and WeChat, to reach customers where they spend a high percentage of their time.
Gartner has also claimed that by 2020, 30 percent of all B2B companies will employ artificial intelligence (AI) to augment at least one of their primary sales processes. AI in sales allows for more efficiency and effectiveness in business processes, often with up to 30 percent higher conversion rates when engaging prospects or leads, according to Gartner. It is becoming an attractive alternative for sales organisations with high volumes of lead processing, opportunities and forecasting processes because it provides fast and accurate support when performing the different sales stages.
Finally, the research firm has dubbed 2020 as the year when augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality immersive solutions will be evaluated and adopted in 20 percent of large enterprises as part of their digital transformation strategy.
Organisations will have the ability to provide employees, customers and suppliers with a means to obtain real-time information, experience virtual environments and engage in social collaboration without a small, limited display and a limited point of view. Consumers already experience some form of immersive technology, such as Snapchat filters and 360-degree video and photos on Facebook.