Gartner Survey Provides Insight Into What Will Be Top of Mind in 2020 for Customer Service and Support Leaders


Digital channels and infrastructure, customer service representatives, and data, voice of the customer (VoC) and customer service metrics make up the top three priorities for customer service and support leaders and their organizations’ success going into 2020, according to Gartner, Inc.

“Customer service and support leaders face increased pressure from leadership on the role of the service function in improving operational excellence and growing the business,” says Lauren Villeneuve, senior principal at Gartner. “Given this environment, it’s unsurprising that customer service and support leaders’ top 2020 priorities are rooted in customer experience, service reps and data. These priorities, overall, are very similar to what we’ve seen in the past — but looking into 2020, we also see subtle, but very important, differences.”

The Gartner 2020 Agenda Poll asked customer service and support leaders from 42 organizations, both B2B and B2C, about their top priorities and the underlying challenges they will need to overcome to successfully execute on these priorities.

Priority 1: Digital channels and infrastructure

To keep up with customer expectations and competitors, many service organizations add and integrate more digital self-service offerings into their portfolios, hoping these new investments will displace costlier live contacts and improve customer experience (CX). However, Gartner research shows these strategies aren’t paying off.

“The add-and-integrate strategy ends up costing organizations more money and doesn’t bring any improvement across customer experience metrics, either,” said Ms. Villeneuve. “To truly tackle this issue, service leaders must progress beyond adding new channels and capabilities to making the functional transformation into a self-service-dominant organization.”

Priority 2: Customer service representatives

The role of the customer service rep is changing. Self-service channels are now resolving simple issues that reps traditionally answered, leaving reps with the more complex issues to resolve. As a result, service leaders are left wondering who they should be hiring in this new, more complex era of customer service.

Gartner research shows that there are seven types of frontline reps currently across the customer contact function. Of these seven types, “Controller” reps outperform all other types of reps in delivering a low-effort service experience. This profile succeeds because they naturally provide what customers want in today’s complex and information-rich world — an easy and proactive resolution to their issue.

Service leaders should also ensure that they can engage and retain Controller reps in 2020. The Gartner 2020 Agenda Poll highlighted that 56% of service leaders agree that they will face difficulty attracting and retaining high-quality reps in 2020. “To engage and retain reps, Gartner recommends that organizations define and measure rep engagement, provide reps a clear path for career progression, encourage feedback, reward contribution, and create a network judgment climate in which reps feel trusted and influential,” added Ms. Villeneuve.

Priority 3: Data, VoC and customer service metrics

Many service organizations struggle to capture, share and generate value from VoC data. As a result, 67% of service leaders said that it will be important for them to address the difficulty of capturing, sharing and generating value from VoC data in 2020.

To gather and analyze VoC data to identify actionable insights and improvement opportunities for service and other functions, Gartner recommends a three-step guide:

  1.  Set clear, narrowly focused VoC objectives, and gather targeted data to generate actionable insights.
  2.  Evaluate customer data gathered from various sources to identify the root causes of customer feedback and determine corresponding improvement opportunities for service, as well as other functions.
  3. Communicate the VoC findings with business partners and customers, and build transparency into the initiatives planned for addressing the areas of concern.