Let’s go back to the future–it is time to start planning now for customer service in 2021

Ian Jacobs
Ian Jacobs
Principal Analyst
June 28, 2016

This a guest post by Meredith Cain, a Research Associate on the Application Development & Delivery (AD&D) team.

Let’s take trip back to 1989. One of the big movies of that year was “Back to the Future: Part II.” One of the great things about that movie was its view of the future—or, because so much time has passed since the film was released, its view of what our present should be like. In the film, Marty McFly and Doc Brown time traveled to October 21, 2015 and had the opportunity to observe potential technologies and experiences of the future. What they saw seems both supremely silly and surprisingly prescient: video conferencing, holograms, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Sure, we don’t all use AR and VR every day, but it is becoming clearer that we soon will.

In Forrester’s new report “Plan Now For Customer Service in 2021,” we assess and evaluate five developing customer service technologies according to their potential impact on the customer service experience in the year 2021. Rather than time traveling, we evaluated the technologies based on their newness, business complexity, and technological complexity so AD&D pros can adequately plan for the necessary amount of time to develop these five technologies and build the appropriate business cases for budgeting.

In “Back to the Future: Part II,” Marty’s sister uses AR glasses to watch a show or video while eating dinner. Since 1989, there have been a few attempts to bring AR and VR to the masses. However, AR and VR are not as ubiquitous in today’s society as Marty predicted. However, recent developments and investments from startups and tech giants alike suggest these immersive experiences will eventually become everyday experiences, but are still in developmental stages today.

For example in the customer service space, smartphone apps will provide virtual overlays of documents, such as account statements, to provide FAQs and display account information. Internal workforces, such as contact centers, which are physically separated by geography, will be managed holistically in VR. Technical repairs and training, which currently require in person interactions or blind step-by-step instructions, will be resolved via two-way video.

Although today’s hoverboards still have wheels, drones don’t walk dogs, and not all Nike shoes automatically lace, innovative technologies that improve the customer experience are within our reach and continue to improve. To satiate, or at least curb, consumers’ appetite for the newest, most convenient, and most user friendly technology, AD&D pros must prepare today for tomorrow’s technology.

To check out five of the tools that will become mainstream tools in your customer service arsenal in the next five years, check out the report.

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