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Guest Post: Brilliant Advice for Women Breaking into CS Leadership Roles

This week we feature an article from Kaila Krayewski, Managing Director at Archipelago Communications. She introduces a few female customer service speakers and shares their advice for women pursuing leadership roles in CS/CX. In the wake of International Women’s Day, it’s beyond time to talk about a pivotal issue in customer service: the lack of […]

This week we feature an article from Kaila Krayewski, Managing Director at Archipelago Communications. She introduces a few female customer service speakers and shares their advice for women pursuing leadership roles in CS/CX.

In the wake of International Women’s Day, it’s beyond time to talk about a pivotal issue in customer service: the lack of representation of women in leadership roles.

Let’s start with some facts:

  • A whopping 66% of customer service representatives are female.
  • Despite this, only a fraction of those women make it into leadership positions — 48%, to be exact.

Why? COO at Sarah Al-Hussaini, in her recent editorial about why women should shape the future of customer service, points to workplace discrimination as a likely contributing factor.

Sarah also points out that women possess the soft skills that are essential in customer service, like empathy and EQ. And that’s not all:

“In the customer service industry, we are at 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?”

The passion that Sarah has for encouraging increased female leadership in customer service is prevalent in everything does, most poignantly the upcoming webinar moderated by Shep Hyken. Aptly named Women Leading the Way: Customer Service Trends 2021, the March 24 webinar features an all-star cast of customer service leaders — all of whom are women.

In a bid to expedite more women landing leadership roles in customer service, we asked each of our speakers the following question:

What advice do you have for women who want to pursue leadership roles in CS/CX or who may be considering it, but are unsure if it’s for them? What skills and experiences should they equip themselves with to give themselves their best chance at career progression?

Their responses were insightful, specific, and encouraging, and we asked Shep if he would be happy to share them in guest post format on his website. Being the champion of women in customer service leadership roles that he is, Shep kindly agreed.

Here are their answers:

Nicola Millard, Principal Partner at BT (Keynote speaker)

“I think the only qualification you need for a career in CX is a real passion for people. You are the representative of the customer in the organization and you need to fight to make sure that the customer is kept front and center in any discussions. If initiatives don’t make things easier for customers, they are probably not the right thing to do.

Understanding data is also useful, so you know the right questions to ask, e.g. if average call handling times go up, is that necessarily a bad thing? One potential hypothesis here is that self-service strategies are working, leaving human agents to do the value-add contact (which might take longer).”

Kate Hardcastle MBE, The Customer Whisperer

“It has been incredibly important for me to build a career in which I have worked to immerse myself in all areas of business. I have packed in factories, driven delivery vans, studied the latest manufacturing techniques, and led the charge in product development. This has been vital when I have had to build bridges with other departments and given me a complete picture of the challenges they may face and how I can best create engagement with CX/CS.”

Sonja Hild, Customer Service Expert at BSH

“This question, of course, has two dimensions. How to pursue a leadership role and whether a customer service environment is for you. My advice is to find out if consumer-facing roles are for you. Imagine a day full of surprises, a very dynamic environment, quickly switching from one topic to the next, solving problems, calming down an angry customer, enjoying the happiness of another satisfied customer, and all the while always trying to do everything more efficiently. It has a lot of similarities to running a busy family life – something women have done for ages! If you are not scared by that, just try it out and enjoy it.”

Eveline Erkelens, Agile Customer Experience Strategist

I believe women are ideally poised for leadership roles in CS/CX, as they are naturally suited for empathetic leadership. The following traits will serve you well in a career in CS/CX, whether you are considering entering the field or are pursuing leadership roles:

  • Listen, be interested, and stay open — not only to your customers but also your employees and teammates.
  • Don’t break silos, connect them — the future of CS/CX is about collaborating and employing a multidisciplinary approach to finding solutions.
  • Understand, set goals, and adapt – you will create more value for your customers when you understand what your customers want and adapt solutions to meet the needs of varying customers. Ensuring that your employees understand what is needed is also crucial; that way, you can demand transparency, and stay focused on objectives.
  • Discipline and dedication are important — to stay true to your ‘North Star’ and not get distracted.
  • Inspect, research, and invest in data — examine how you collect data from customers today, research the data to discover insights, and invest in a proper data management system.

Olga Guseva, CCXP, and Co-author of Customer Experience

“I think CX is a profession that fits females greatly. At the end of the day, it really is about CARE. Caring about your customers – the same way you would about your kids, parents, or spouse. It is about thinking ahead, predicting needs, listening attentively, hugging when it hurts, supporting when it is difficult, and being proud with someone else’s success. If you know how to care about people – you have a good fit. Having said that, this profession does require a distinctive set of skills that are best described by CXPA and its six core competencies, which require an ability to see the big picture, to work with and process data, and to make changes.

  1. Creating a customer-centric culture
  2. Creating a CX strategy
  3. Working with CX metrics
  4. Listening to the customer
  5. Ability to create the desired customer experience
  6. Ability to implement changes

These are distinctive competencies that need specific knowledge and experience. For anyone who would like to learn more, I happily recommend the Customer Experience Masterclass, delivered by CXPA Recognized Trainers across the globe, including myself, to get this knowledge first-hand.

Marianne Rutz, Podcaster and Speaker

“I think a constant and healthy curiosity about why you do what you do is the key in CS/CX. You don’t want to accept the status quo. Of course, it does help when you have an in-depth understanding of customer service through Key Performance Indicators, as well as the impact of the service you deliver – this helps you ask the right questions to improve your services.

The second piece of advice, which I still live and breathe, is to spend half a day each month in your customer service centers – no matter what title you hold! My biggest fear career-wise is that I lose touch with the real world by not spending enough time interacting with my agents and my customers.”

While women are not yet dominating leadership roles in customer service, we have high hopes that it won’t be long until they are. It is our further hope that any woman aspiring to make it in a customer service leadership role will reflect upon these insights, from the importance of a passion for people to embracing the volatility of the industry, connecting and staying focused, and being supportive of one’s teammates no matter how difficult the day, and use them to shatter any glass ceilings hovering above them.

Are you a woman trying to make it as a leader in customer service? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below if you found the advice in this post helpful, or if you have any advice of your own to share with your peers, we highly encourage you to do so.

Our upcoming webinar, Women Leading the Way: Customer Service Trends 2021, will expand on these insights, as well as perspectives on which customer service trends will dominate 2021 and how this industry is transforming. Book your free seat here.

Kaila Krayewski, international technology journalist and serial founder, manages her global content agency and virtual writing school which focuses on topics like technology, lifestyle, and travel. 

FShep Hyken Guest Blog Postor more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to

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