The Evolution of Customer Service Technology From 2010 to 2020 and Beyond

Fueled by advances in social media, big data, and artificial intelligence, the 2010s served as a renaissance period for communication between consumers and businesses. During this time, consumers started valuing fast response times as the most important aspect of the customer service experience, prompting many businesses to invest in options for self-service. This evolution led to the entrance of increasingly automated and intelligent customer service technology, such as chatbots, voice assistants, and advanced phone solutions. By looking at these notable customer experience (CX) developments of the last decade, we can begin to anticipate how these technologies will help businesses respond to consumers faster than ever before.

Real-Time Messaging & Social Customer Service

To meet the growing expectation for rapid responses and self-service, companies started offering social customer support and in-app messaging, allowing consumers to chat with representatives, read reviews, and even make purchases from within smartphone apps. For example, a passenger on a delayed flight no longer needed to sit on hold for an hour to speak with a customer service representative. Instead, he could easily tweet to the airline and expect an immediate response. As the popularity of real-time messaging and social customer service grew, customers began to have more communication choices and access to everything they needed in one place, available anywhere at any time.


Chatbots allow businesses to deliver instantaneous customer service at any time, day or night. While chatbots aren't new to the CX scene, advancements in artificial intelligence have given rise to more conversational interfaces and natural language processing, making them more commonly used by businesses to handle their customer interactions. They can be easily merged with social media, messaging apps, SMS, and email.

Voice Assistants

Voice-activated assistants like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, and Cortana became widespread throughout the late 2010s. Consumers use these platforms to make reservations, find products online, and even order their favorite meals. While we can expect more companies to find ways to facilitate the customer experience through self-service solutions, when consumers have a problem, they still want a conversation with a human to be an option.

Advanced Phone Technology<

While the phone is anything but new, it is still the preferred method of communication for customers who want an immediate answer, especially when contacting local businesses. Recent advances in intelligent phone technology combine the familiarity of traditional telephone conversations with the best parts of other modern communication platforms, using AI and voice recognition to answer common questions and route calls. While intelligent phone solutions have historically been used only by large corporations, advanced phone tech has recently become accessible to businesses of all sizes.

So What's Next for Customer Service Technology?

After reflecting on 10 years of growth and change, it's hard not to wonder what the next decade holds. How will the tools that emerged in the last decade combine to create new experiences for businesses and consumers? There is no crystal ball, but it's a safe bet that the future will focus on technology that anticipates our everyday needs rather than simply reacting to them. Communication between devices and systems will be more seamless, and technology itself will take on more of the heavy lifting, allowing relevant content to surface automatically to consumers before they ask for it.

Just imagine, you arrive home from work 30 minutes later than usual. The voice assistant that connects with the GPS app and calendar on your phone will greet you with, "I saw traffic was terrible on your commute, so you're running behind for the kids' soccer practice at 7. Want me to order dinner?" And, because they'll have stored your regular order for your favorite local take-out spot, along with your payment information, you'll say, "Yes, get our usual from Pho Fun." Your assistant connects with the virtual agent at your local restaurant and places your dinner order. The cook, without having to answer the phone, sees the order come in and begins preparing your meal. Meanwhile, you'll be helping your kids get ready for soccer practice, knowing dinner will be arriving shortly.

This type of interoperability between the technology created in the 2010s might seem lightyears away, but if we've learned anything yet in the new millennium, it's that the pace of technological progress is ever-increasing. That means business owners will be faced with the challenge and opportunity to keep up to continue to outpace competitors, increase efficiency, and delight their customers! And what a fun challenge that will be.

Bob Summers is general manager of CallJoy, which was built within Area 120, Google's internal incubator for experimental ideas. CallJoy provides a cloud-based phone agent for small businesses.