More companies are planning to adopt virtual customer assistants and chatbots

At least a quarter (25%) of customer service operations are looking to use virtual customer assistants (VCA) or chatbots to engage with their customers by 2020, according to new research from Gartner.

Gene Alvarez, the managing VP at Gartner, told an audience at the Gartner Customer Experience Summit in Tokyo that over half of businesses had already invested in VCAs for customer service purposes.

“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 Alvarez. “This is underpinned by improvements in natural-language processing, machine learning and intent-matching capabilities.”

Once implemented, a VCA can reduce call, chat or email inquiries by 70%. In addition, customer satisfaction has increased.

According to earlier research by Gartner, 84% of organizations are expected to boost their customer experience investments.

The increased adoption of VCA is also driven by lower levels of success in business app engagement. Indeed, 20% of brands are planning to abandon their mobile apps by 2019 as maintenance costs are outweighing their return-on-investment. Messenger presences on Facebook Messenger or WeChat are being explored in favour of apps.

At the same time, two-thirds of customer experience projects are going to make increased use of IT (up 50%) by 2022.

Another 30% of B2B companies are adopting artificial intelligence solutions to boost their sales processes until 2020. Data analytics are already an integral part of many customer service operations, but are being enhanced further for at least 40% of projects until 2020.

Lastly, the research points out that augmented reality, virtual and mixed reality solutions are likely to be adopted by 20% of larger enterprises by 2020. Social collaborations are already a big factor among organizations and will be pushed further to include 360-degree video and other formats.

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