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Multi-channel CX: Service agents in the digital age

Despite the rise in automated service channels, human agents will be more important than ever for customer retention in the digital age.


Digital solutions have changed how customers manage routine service transactions. But even the most digitally-reliant customers still need—and sometimes prefer—personalized human help. In the digital age, service agents will need to resolve the most complex issues and deliver exceptional customer experiences.

Companies will benefit from fundamentally rethinking their service delivery channels and talent requirements to retain customers. Additionally, companies will want to put their agents at the center of a multi-channel customer service strategy and, above all, empower them to act as the critical front-office players they are.


"Forty-three percent of customers are satisfied with their ability to resolve issues without human help. Only 36 percent believe online channels are better."

Key Findings

Despite the increase in digital service channels, consumers still want human help. But getting the human element right in the digital age is harder than many companies thought. Why?

  • Service is no longer an isolated function. Digital customers now evaluate a company’s products—as well as its services and support capabilities—on an ongoing basis. They are Nonstop Customers.

  • Companies no longer fully control the service experience. One-quarter of customers now turn to third-party websites, forums or chats to resolve issues. “Crowd-service” channels are competing for customers’ attention.

  • Assumptions are flawed. Companies think high-value customers prefer human interactions and Millennials want digital-only service solutions. Neither assumption is true. What is true is that customers now simultaneously live in both the digital and physical worlds. That means companies must deliver a tightly-integrated multi-channel customer service experience so customers can choose—and be satisfied.

Your last line of defense

Your last line of defense: Service agents in the Digital Age from Accenture


Digital solutions do not replace human interactions. They complement them in elevating the entire service experience. Companies looking to dramatically improve their customer service experience—and increase customer retention—should:

  • Master the digital experience. Customers will increasingly turn to digital support channels. Companies need to invest in improving the digital service experience. Mobile services hold particular appeal.

  • Implement a multi-channel service strategy. Companies need the right balance of digital and non-digital support options. Analytics, customer segmentation and social monitoring can reveal how to delight customers wherever they might be on their journeys.

  • Enable agents to be critical front-office players. To help agents become customer experience designers, PR managers, solution coaches and loyalty experts, companies need to rethink their talent procedures, pipelines and structures. New tools, performance measures and reward structures all play a part in creating a successful multi-channel customer service strategy.


Sven Drinkuth

Sven Drinkuth
Managing Director – Accenture Strategy,
Advanced Customer Strategy, ASG Lead

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Ryan Shanks

Ryan Shanks
Managing Director – Accenture Strategy,
Talent & Organization

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