Gartner: chatbots will run a quarter of customer service interactions in 2020

Written by David Adams

Gartner predicts that chatbots – virtual customer assistants (VCAs) – will be running 25 per cent of all customer service and support operations by 2020, up from just two per cent in 2017. The research firm’s forecast is based on the excellent results chatbots are delivering to some organisations today, with some reporting reductions of up 70 per cent in customer enquiries received through other channels after implementing VCAs.

“As more customers engage on digital channels VCAs are being implemented for handling customer requests on websites, mobile apps, consumer messaging apps and social networks,” said Gartner managing vice-president Gene Alvarez. “This is underpinned by improvements in natural language processing, machine learning and intent-matching capabilities.” He said that a good VCA could “enrich the customer experience, help the customer throughout the interaction and process transactions on behalf of the customer.”

A very large majority (84 per cent) of organisations surveyed by Gartner expect to invest more in customer experience technology over the next year. By 2019, one in five expect to have abandoned their mobile apps, as these are being judged to have failed to deliver a satisfactory level of adoption and customer engagement. Instead, companies will use bots to engage with consumers via messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WeChat.

By 2022, Gartner predicts that two-thirds of all customer experience projects will be primarily IT-based, compared to 50 per cent in 2017. By 2020, 30 per cent of all B2B companies will use AI to augment at least one of their primary sales processes; while 20 per cent of large enterprises will be evaluating or using immersive augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality solutions within digital transformation projects.