Customer service is hard. Connected customers compare your service experiences not just with your competitors but also with the best experiences that they’ve had with consumer brands. They broadcast poor experiences, which leads to abandoned purchases, lost sales, and brand erosion.

Modernizing customer service operations takes a long-term investment in AI and automation to better support your customers and your agents. Forrester sees three megatrends for 2020:

  1. AI and automation means that you don’t need agents to scale. AI and automation will take over repetitive agent tasks and autonomously interact with customers, allowing agents to handle complex interactions that require empathy and personalization. They will enable agents to onboard faster. They will empower supervisors to better staff and manage their workforce. And they allow companies to roll out products faster. Companies will invest in self-service technologies such as chatbots, knowledge management, communities, self-service process automation, and robotic process automation (RPA). They will increasingly adopt prescriptive AI scenarios to streamline inquiry capture, resolution, optimize case routing, classification, and schedule management.
  2. Modern agent desktops will evolve to handle complex work. As self-service and automation increasingly handle repetitive work, agent interactions become escalation points for more complex issues. AI-infused agent desktop technologies become more critical to optimize the outcomes of these rare human moments to connect with customers and nurture relationships. Agent desktops must contain enhanced customer context for more 1:1 engagement, process guidance, adaptive experiences to focus agents on work that matters, channel switching, workspaces to facilitate collaboration and knowledge, and learning and training to uplevel skills.
  3. Agent staffing and culture will transform as AI sets in. As customer service organizations adopt AI and automation, the nature of work changes. They erode the need for lower-tier agents and increase the need for superagents. They also create new jobs such as bot masters and conversational designers. Staffing practices change to better align with evolving expectations for work (gig economy, contract, and work at home). Success measures change to better track customer engagement and retention; culture changes to nurture longer-tenured jobs.

Read more in our new report on customer service trends.