To differentiate your brand and drive new revenue streams in today’s marketplace, you need to think fast, connected and personalised. In fact, 82% of service decision makers say their company’s customer service must transform to stay competitive. 

As the Fourth Industrial Revolution accelerates, new technology is making it easier for brands to deliver customer-centric experiences. The kind that play to consumers’ expectations, and surprise and delight them while doing it.

But to deliver true customer service transformation, your most valuable resource – your employees – will need the skills to match.

In this post, we’ll explore three ways you can equip your customer service agents to start driving service forward. You’ll also find plenty of stats from our State of Service 2019 report, the result of a 3,500-strong survey of the world’s service agents and decision makers.


1. Update job descriptions – and train

As customer expectations become more demanding, you need to recognise that your agents will be doing more than closing as many cases as they can in as little time as possible. 

We’re already seeing the impact of this shift on the agent side, with 71% of service agents saying their role is more strategic than it was two years ago. 

If that sounds familiar, you might consider reflecting this increased responsibility by including customer advocacy in their job descriptions and encourage growth by investing more in training and smart, connected technology. On-demand training portals can also go a long way to help agents fill skill gaps by enabling trackable, ongoing learning – anytime, anywhere.

78% of service professionals say their company views its agents as customer advocates. To support this view, 77% of organisations are making significant investments in agent training, while 69% of their agents say they have the tools and technology they need to do their job well.

Speaking of technology…


2. Deploy smart technology

When your agents waste time on banal, routine processes like manually hunting for information across disparate apps and systems, your customers lose out. It’s time better spent on higher-value tasks – like offering empathetic, informed and personalised service.


70% of service agents believe automating routine tasks would allow them to focus on higher-value work.


To make time for more strategic work, including further upskilling, 56% of service organisations are investigating artificial intelligence (AI) as a solution. And over the next 18 months, its prevalence is projected to grow by 143%. 

But how exactly might AI assist your service agents? Among organisations already using AI, the following use cases proved most popular:

  • Gathering preliminary case information (81%)
  • Automating routine customer issues (75%)
  • Case classification and agent routing (74%)
  • Pre-filling fields in the agent console (71%)

And how is it working out for agents? 51% of agents without AI say they spend most of their time on mundane tasks, versus 34% of agents with AI. Better yet, 71% of service agents view AI as helpful to their job. 


Speak digital

AI Chatbots – AI technology that simulates voice or text-based conversions – are set for an expanded role in customer service. In fact, AI chatbot use is projected to grow by 136% over the next 18 months, while high-performing organisations are 2.1x more likely to use them than underperformers.


3. Connect and unify your people

Email, phone, in-person, social media, SMS, messenger apps and more: the average customer now uses 10 different channels to engage with companies. 

Without a connected view, delivering a consistent experience across all channels is an uphill battle. Worse, customer service teams will often struggle to meet customers where they are, with service teams on average only using nine channels. 

To deliver on customer expectations, agents need a single, shared view of every engagement across every channel. What’s more, they need to be able to contextualise engagements based on shared company data and previous customer interactions. 

To encourage a more collaborative approach to internal data sharing, many service organisations now share common goals and metrics with sales, commerce and marketing. In fact, 89% of service professionals say partnering with other departments is critical to providing great customer experiences. 


90% of service professionals say customer service is viewed as the responsibility of the entire company –not just their department.


With the right training and platform, agents can access the right data fast and meet customers where they are, when it counts. No flipping between disparate systems or multiple screens – just a single, simple, unified view.

Get this right, and they’ll have all they need to increase first-time resolutions, drive personalisation, and deliver intelligent, relevant interactions across all channels.


84% of service professionals say a unified view of customer information is key to providing great customer experiences.


What happens next?

For a complete view of our survey findings, and to learn how exactly you can transform your service agents into smart, connected customer advocates, we recommend reading our full State of Service 2019 report.

If you’re already itching to transform your own service operations, please don’t hesitate to investigate Salesforce Service Cloud. It’s your single, complete customer support platform enabling everyone to rally around the customer experience, share and contextualise data fast.