It also creates new tech roles within the industry, which is in the process of transforming from a low-skill industry to a high-skill one. A talented and experienced workforce is needed to build, test, train, and operate the technology that is scaling the impact of customer service teams.
A pivotal opportunity for women to transform the industry
In the customer service industry, we are on the cusp of an enormous opportunity — to create the first deep tech specialization (conversational AI) dominated by women. Who better to shape the future of the industry than the women who make up the majority of its workforce?
However, the software industry should serve as a cautionary tale for us.
In the early days of software development, simply getting a program into a machine took a long time. A lot of the work was manual, tedious, and repetitive. And a lot of this work was done by women. Women paved the way for the software industry that we have today.
As the industry became more lucrative and complex, it drew more men. When they began to enter the industry, software development started to be classified as an engineering and STEM discipline, educational paths that societal structures discouraged women from pursuing. Men took on the new roles that were being created while women left the industry or were stuck in lower level positions.
Today, if you look at C-level executives and founders in tech, you see a sea of men. And as the industry becomes more technology-driven and sophisticated, we may see the same trend repeat itself in customer service, if this industry continues to be served by women, and led by men.
Because of the number of roles they hold in this industry, women are the group most impacted by automation and AI. Women have unique expertise and frontline knowledge of what customers want and need, and thus, they should be leading the way and building the technology of the future for this industry.
As AI-related job titles such as Automation Managers and Conversation Designers are rapidly growing in the industry, the window is open for women to step into these new roles and specializations, leveling the playing field and upending the status quo.
Going digital while staying human
The customer service industry is one that is rapidly evolving, and at Ultimate, we truly believe that conversational AI is the future of customer service. It allows companies to handle high volumes of interactions while delivering personalization in a human way, using AI and deep learning.
For customers using Ultimate in their customer service, we’ve seen over and over again how quickly the project leads get promoted or become product owners of the tech, helping their companies transform digitally and adding tremendous value in a short amount of time.
For example, Fintech company TransferGo and ecommerce jewelry marketplace PURELEI created new roles for their former female support agents after automating, who now manage their support team's virtual agent platform full-time.
Informed by women leading this shift, technology can help companies “go digital while staying human”, to borrow the words of Eveline Erkelens, an experienced Agile CX strategist and thought leader, and founder of Bright6.
There is so much evidence out there that women are less likely to put themselves forward if they feel even slightly unqualified to do something. But when it comes to conversational AI and automation in customer service, because this domain is so new, it’s still an emerging field, with a limited supply of talent to fill in the gaps.
Our domain expertise as women on the frontlines of dealing with customers is an incredible asset, and cannot be discounted. We have the chance to be the champions and early adopters of this technology. Ultimately, technology is just a tool, and most things are no-code today. Women should not be intimidated by a perceived “skill barrier” when hearing words like “AI” and “automation”.