Rise of the chatbots: a quarter of all customer service operations will be ‘virtualised’ by 2020 – Gartner

One-quarter of all customer service and support operations will embed virtual customer assistant (VCA) or ‘chatbot’ technologies within their engagement channels by 2020, according to researcher Gartner.

Speaking at the Gartner Customer Experience Summit in Tokyo on Monday, Gene Alvarez, managing vice president at Gartner, said more than half of all organisations have already invested in VCAs for customer service operations, emphasising the increasing value and practicality of the technology for customer-facing businesses.

“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,” Alvarez said. “This is underpinned by improvements in natural language processing, machine learning, and intent matching capabilities.”

As a result of implementing VCA, organisations have also reported a reduction of up to 70 percent in call, chat and/or email inquiries, Gartner research revealed. Despite the shift away from human customer support staff, the report also showed increased customer satisfaction and a 33 percent saving per voice engagement.

"A great VCA offers more than just information," Alvarez said. "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 are expected to increase investments in customer experience (CX) technology in the year ahead.


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