Could a LangOps Leader Transform Your Customer Service Operations?


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Does your business currently serve customers in more than one language? Do you hope to expand into more countries in the coming years? Have you ever faced difficulty trying to overcome language and cultural barriers when tapping into new markets?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it’s time to start thinking about how your organization can take advantage of a powerful growth lever that you’ve likely been missing out on: language.

Many businesses currently think of language as a constraint. We recently surveyed over 1,000 decision-makers at global organizations, and more than one-third of them cited high cost, time-consuming processes, and lack of a single owner as top roadblocks for introducing additional languages.

Thanks to major advancements in the field of AI, there is now a way to eliminate those concerns by centralizing resources to streamline language translation throughout the entire organization. It’s called Language Operations (LangOps).

While LangOps can (and should) ultimately be used to enable high-quality multilingual communications across all departments and channels, we often see customer service as the entrypoint. Let’s dive deeper into why language is so valuable for customer service and how your organization can appoint a LangOps leader to focus on scaling technology and teams as needed.

The connection between customer service and language strategy

Customer service is typically the gateway to language operationalization because it’s the area where language efficiencies see the fastest return. Since this department is often viewed as a cost center, customer service leaders are continually looking for ways to increase productivity, optimize support channels, and reduce expenses, all while improving (or at least maintaining) customer satisfaction.

That’s why it’s common for someone like a director of customer support or VP of customer service to step forward and champion the adoption of AI-powered language technology. They are very aware of the ROI that agile scaling of teams and KPI improvements, like reduced cost per contact, can bring. In the above-mentioned survey, 94% of customer service respondents said that LangOps could be very or extremely important for their organization’s global market strategy.

How to hire a LangOps leader

While customer service leaders are often eager to evaluate LangOps solutions and make the business case for their adoption to the C-suite, that doesn’t make them LangOps leaders, per se. They certainly have a deep knowledge of their company’s customer service technology stack and how different tools integrate together; however, a LangOps leader needs both technology and language skills to be able to successfully operationalize multilingual communications at scale.

The chief responsibilities of a LangOps leader include, but are not limited to:

  • Procuring and implementing machine translation solutions
  • Training machine learning models on company-specific language
  • Measuring the success of optimized translation capabilities
  • Teaching agents how to use this technology in their daily work

Because a LangOps leader must possess linguistic versatility and an understanding of semantics across different contexts, hiring for this position often requires input from an organization’s head of localization. It’s common to see chief operating officers, customer service leaders, and localization specialists all working together to make this hire. Other characteristics of a promising LangOps leader are:

  • Involvement in operations at a tech-driven language services provider (LSP)
  • Experience developing and managing a language translation budget
  • Ability to use relevant tools in the language annotation and machine learning suite
  • Good communication skills with a track record of building strong relationships with key stakeholders

Once a LangOps leader has been appointed, it’s up to them to decide how to build out the rest of the LangOps team. The choices they make here depend on several different factors such as the size of the existing customer service department, what other language translation solutions are in place, and what departments LangOps will transform next, be it marketing, sales, product, or something else.

Additional hires made on for the team should fit a similar profile as the LangOps leader, even if they don’t tick all the boxes. For example, a skilled localization project manager can be taught to use AI and machine learning tools, or a multilingual solutions architect can quickly get up to speed on the requirements for language-related decision-making and prioritization.

Using LangOps to launch global growth

Supporting multilingual customer service is one of the best ways to accelerate global expansion. While it may seem like a daunting task, putting the right people, processes, and technology in place will help you eliminate language barriers and maximize your organization’s growth potential.

If your business truly wants to speak the same language as your customers, hiring a LangOps leader to design and drive an AI-powered language strategy is a must.

Vasco Pedro
Vasco Pedro is a co-founder and chief executive officer of Unbabel, a company that removes language barriers by blending artificial intelligence with real time, human translations. A serial entrepreneur, Vasco has led Unbabel since 2013, taking it through Y Combinator and raising a total of $31 million in funding.


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