Gartner Predicts Chatbots Will Become a Primary Customer Service Channel Within Five Years

By 2027, chatbots will become the primary customer service channel for roughly a quarter of organizations, according to Gartner, Inc.

“Chatbots and virtual customer assistants (VCAs) have evolved over the past decade to become a critical technology component of a service organization’s strategy,” said Uma Challa, Sr Director Analyst in the Gartner Customer Service & Support practice. “When designed correctly, chatbots can improve customer experience and drive positive customer emotion at a lower cost than live interactions.”

A Gartner customer service and support (CSS) survey of 50 respondents conducted online in January and February 2022 revealed 54% of respondents are using some form of chatbot, VCA or other conversational AI platform for customer-facing applications.

“CSS leaders have a positive future outlook for chatbots, but struggle to identify actionable metrics, minimizing their ability to drive chatbot evolution and expansion, and limiting their ROI,” said Challa. “Benchmarking chatbot performance metrics at one organization against that of its peers is not effective and can be misleading because chatbot type, design and complexity vary widely by organization.”

CSS leaders seeking to effectively deploy and measure chatbot performance as part of their service and support channel strategies should:

  • Create an appropriate chatbot deployment strategy based on use cases and the complexity of service interactions. Plan early and consider all dependencies to ensure the necessary resources are available.
  • Enhance customer containment and reduce customer effort by improving chatbot usability.
  • Identify the most relevant chatbot metrics (e.g., goal completion rate, abandonment rate, conversation steps, handle time, etc.) based on the organization’s unique context.
  • Adapt the metrics to their desired chatbot metric performance level, or baseline, by considering the chatbot design and complexity.
  • Set up a cadence to review the chatbot metrics against the established baseline to gain insights into strengths and prioritize opportunities.

Gartner clients can read more in: “Chatbot Metrics: Understanding Measures to Maximize Success” and “Risks to Know and Mitigate Before Deploying Chatbots.” Learn more in the complimentary ebook, “The Customer Service Chatbot Deployment Guide.

About Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders

The customer service and support function is vital to maintaining customer loyalty and influencing brand perceptions. Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders provides indispensable insights, advice and tools needed to achieve service and support leaders’ mission-critical priorities, specifically improving the customer experience while managing costs. Gartner’s research, advice and best practices equip customer service and support leaders to design an optimal service channel strategy; measure and reduce customer effort; and hire, develop and retain high-potential frontline talent.

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