Reimagining self-service, piloting employee-facing GenAI, and exploring new offerings in the customer journey analytics (CJA) market will be top priorities for customer service and support leaders in 2024, according to Gartner.

A Gartner survey of 246 customer service and support leaders conducted September through October 2023 revealed service and support leaders’ priorities for the coming year amid their increasing responsibility for technology strategy in their organisation.

“Advances in GenAI and shifting customer preferences are pushing service and support leaders to reimagine what’s possible for their organisation in 2024,” says Kim Hedlin, senior principal: research, in the Gartner Customer Service & Support practice.

“Leaders are focused on how they can leverage technology to accomplish their top priorities, including improving customer experience and optimising their operations.”

Seventy-nine percent of service and support leaders surveyed were knowledgeable about their enterprise’s plans for GenAI adoption. Of these leaders, 83% said their enterprises either have plans to invest in GenAI or have done so already.

While much of the hype around GenAI in customer service has focused on customer-facing chatbots, many service and support leaders plan to invest in employee-facing GenAI assistants that will support reps in the next 12-18 months. Of leaders whose organisation is planning to make GenAI investments, 94% report they are at least “exploring” employee-facing virtual assistants.

“Many leaders see employee-facing GenAI as an experimental step on the way to deploying customer-facing virtual assistants,” says JJ Moncus, principal: research, in the Gartner Customer Service & Support practice.

“Respondents indicated it’s an important way to learn the risks of GenAI while still having a human in the loop, before moving on to riskier customer-facing deployments.”

In order to meet younger generations of customers’ growing preference for self-service, many service and support leaders will experiment with new self-service capabilities in 2024.

However, these service and support leaders face implementation challenges. Among the service and support leaders who cited self-service adoption as a priority in the survey, 51% also named it a significant challenge for 2024.

Interviews with service and support leaders revealed multiple reasons why self-service implementation is challenging, ranging from organisational resistance to data disorganisation.

However, early experiments with GenAI have helped leaders to envision new possibilities within self-service.

“The GenAI hype is providing momentum for leaders’ self-service investments,” says Hedlin. “Leaders have seen glimmers of a future in which conversational interfaces powered by GenAI could handle more complex interactions than a traditional chatbot. That vision is helping shape leaders’ self-service strategy in 2024.”

Fifty-six percent of service and support leaders surveyed say they plan to invest in the CJA market in the next 12-18 months. CJA enables leaders to analyze customers’ interactions with their organisation over time and across channels. Of those who say they’ll be investing in CJA, 45% indicate that they’ll be investing in this market for the first time.

“Customer service and support leaders are using CJA to gain a more holistic understanding of what customers need,” says Moncus. “Customers’ and executive leaders’ expectations for service interactions will only continue to rise. Service and support leaders need to identify and understand significant customer touchpoints in order to deliver a better experience.”