The number of customer service interactions requiring a human will almost halve over the next two years as video chat and internet-connected devices grow in importance, according to a new report.
Nearly 60 percent of customer service interactions across industries required the intervention of a human support agent around the world in 2014, Gartner said.
But the research house predicts that this will be cut nearly in half over the next 24 months through more radical self-service, communities, alerts and mobile devices.
For example, more than 100 of the 500 largest global businesses will introduce video-based chat for customer-facing interactions by 2018, Gartner believes.
It said this was being driven by the growth of mobile devices and companies' “sense of urgency” to deliver excellent customer experience as a competitive differentiator.
Further, the added connectivity, communications and intelligence of IoT devices make many of them “agents for services that are currently requested and delivered through people”.
Gartner predicts that by 2018, five percent of customer service cases will be initiated by internet-connected devices, up from 0.02 percent in 2014.
Michael Maoz, VP and Distinguished Analyst, commented: "Businesses need to focus on what key customer experiences would benefit from customer engagement with a human.
“It is important to poll customers and internal stakeholders such as those in marketing, sales, customer support and inventory/shipping/billing, where the availability of a human customer support representative can mean the difference between a sale or no sale, the acceptance of an offer or its rejection, and/or a quality customer experience."
As such, Gartner said business would retain a highly trained core of customer service professionals.
Regarding video-based chat, Brian Manusama, Research Director at Gartner, said: "Video chat provides customers with a richer sense of presence, personalised experience by helped coordination of communication and the support of emotional expression, and the real-time sharing of content.”