New research from low-code platform provider Pegasystems finds that business leaders are doubling down on pre-emptive customer service technology to help meet the demands of less loyal and more digital savvy customers.
The global study, conducted by iResearch, surveyed leaders from 11 countries in the Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific for their thoughts on the evolution of customer service over the next five years.
The survey found that pre-emptive customer service technology is becoming a must-have for businesses who are committed to meeting the needs of their customers. Nearly two thirds (65 percent) of respondents said that perfectly anticipating customer needs and solving them before they feel the need to reach out was one of their primary goals over the next five years, while more than half (54 percent) said their biggest customer service challenge was moving from reactive to proactive and pre-emptive customer service. Meanwhile, nearly one-third (32 percent) said they expect customer service to become more anticipatory than reactive within that same period as a result.
“The entire customer service landscape is changing,” said James Dodkins, customer service evangelist at Pega, in a news release. “Where once it might have been enough to react to customers and their concerns, tomorrow’s successful businesses know that they will need to pre-empt them and take action before they become an issue.”
The findings underline a shift towards customer-centric technology as the solution to the challenges posed by more demanding, digital-savvy customers
Eighty percent of respondents said deploying customer service technology to improve efficiency was one of their most important priorities over the next five years. Meanwhile, more than half (55 percent) cited a lack of investment in new technologies that can help them to meet growing customer expectations as among the top three technology customer service challenges they face.
Perhaps the biggest driver of this race towards more pre-emptive, customer-centric technologies over the coming years is that customer loyalty is expected to fall sharply as customers continue to evolve. More than half (55 percent) of respondents felt that over the next five years, businesses will become increasingly likely to completely lose customers if they deliver a poor customer experience. As a result, organizations are scrambling to stay one step ahead of their competitors by investing in customer service software.
The study also identified several changes to the way customer service will look over the next five years. These include:
The customer of the future is changing
Customers are increasingly becoming digital-first, and more than half (54 percent) of respondents said that customers will expect consistent service across all channels over the next five years. In short, customers will expect faster, more personalized, and proactive service from the companies they do business with—and businesses will need to react accordingly.
AI could save the day
Advanced software such as artificial intelligence could help organizations tackle some of the biggest barriers to improving their customer service: for example, 63% cited being able to prioritize customer-centric experiences as their biggest challenge, while more than half (60%) admitted that they struggled to demonstrate empathy and humanity to customers. Today, AI and machine learning is the leading technology in terms of budget allocation for customer service digital transformation projects—58 percent selected it as the primary target for their spending—and we could see the fruits of that investment in the coming years.
Contact centers will get a major tech upgrade
Customer service organizations are increasingly under pressure to reduce contact center costs in the next five years. That means the contact center of the future will require fewer agents. However, live agents aren’t totally going away. Two thirds (66 percent) of respondents identified using dynamic, AI-powered technologies that help agents make decisions quickly and work more efficiently as a priority.
“Organizations know that unless they adapt accordingly, they will be left behind by competitors who are willing to give customers what they need, when they need it and, increasingly, before they even know they need it,” said Dodkins. “That’s the brave new world of customer service, and the willingness to rapidly invest and adopt technologies like artificial intelligence, intelligent automation, real-time decisioning, and predictive analytics could be the difference between success and failure for organizations in the years to come.”
To understand how customer service is changing in response to new technology and emerging customer expectations, Pega surveyed 750 senior vice-presidents, vice-presidents, senior directors, directors, senior managers, and managers across key sectors, including financial services, life sciences, healthcare, retail insurance, manufacturing, telecoms, and the public sector.