The pandemic has increased traction for asynchronous messaging channels
while AI and automation are foundational for customer service.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses to move phone inquiries to automated and digital channels, according to the “The Forrester New Wave: Digital-First Customer Service Solutions, Q2 2020.”

Automation and Campaign Management Tools – Priorities for MarTech Teams

The research firm has witnessed two important trends with a significant increase in digital engagement:

  • Increase in AI and automation adoption

The report says AI and automation are foundational for customer service as they drive chatbot conversations, automated answers, and self-service processes. Moreover, the right tool also routes work to the most suitable agents so that customer service organizations can keep up with the increasing volumes of customer interactions, without expanding the workforce.

  • Spike in asynchronous messaging

Digital messaging channels including WhatsApp for Business, Apple Business Chat, Facebook Messenger, and others offer great customer experiences. Customers can move across channels and touchpoints and take a conversation forward seamlessly without having to repeat themselves. Moreover, the messaging apps offer a rich experience with support for images and video which is contextual to the customer’s actions and journey, notes the research firm. And it also makes customer service operations more effective, as staffing of agents during a certain peak time of engagement is not required.

Leveraging AI-Powered Visual Search for Enriched Customer Experience

Forrester says there is no single customer service solution that can be beneficial for all types of organizations, industries, and businesses. There are companies that support long running customer service processes involving several stakeholders and there is a need of collaboration between the account and customer service organization. On the other hand, there are organizations that focus more on transactions and where customer service interactions are simpler and repetitive- take place over digital channels, and where service interactions can be automated to a large extent.

According to the report, there are two types of customer service solutions emerging in the market – traditional customer service solutions and digital-first customer service solutions. Digital-first customer service solutions support automated and agent-assisted customer interactions over several digital channels. There are a few vendors that specialize in customer service over a few channels like social customer service, or asynchronous messaging.
Meanwhile, others specialize in offering a range of synchronous digital channels like chat, video, and co-browsing. There are other channels that offer a wider range of digital channels, including digital voice.

Customer Service – A Vital Subset for Brands amid COVID-19 Crisis

In each of them, AI and automation technologies are clearly playing a critical role.