Make social services more accessible without losing the human touch

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Use of AI and other automation tools that improve human service delivery can make exclusive services such as career coaching available to more people. But for this to happen, the human and technical aspects of the service must be balanced.

My research of more than 65 start-ups working in high-tech human services (TEHS) shows that while companies need to be ambitious about what technology can do to scale human services, they must also ensure that human the service component has not been compromised.

The rise of high-tech social services

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Many startups are automating parts of tasks that have historically been done by humans, while retaining the human factor for the parts that provide the best results for customers.

This is based on the assumption that since some services, such as concierges, require humans as part of the solution, fully automated applications are not enough. But human time is often expensive and limited.

By combining technology with human experience, companies can make their services more accessible and accessible.

TEHS companies can be found in many industries – I identified 66 such companies, 19 of which are unicorns operating in more than 10 verticals. All these companies use different technologies to optimize those parts of their services that require the time of a human expert.

Image credits: Alon Laniado

For example, Vichy connects people with experts who help them buy clothes and other personal items online. It uses surveys and algorithms to match customer preferences with the range of clothing. This is further refined to a final list of products by style experts who talk to clients about individual needs, including specific event wear or incorporating medical condition requirements.

By cutting down on the time a stylist has to spend on the process, Wishi can charge $40 to $90 per client. Co-founder Clea O’Hana says partners like Farfetch and Saks Fifth Avenue who use Wishi are seeing a surge in transactions.

“[That’s] thanks to the more detailed data we get from clients and their trusting relationship with their stylist,” says O’Hana.

Is my service “technological”?

Three conditions seem necessary for a company to improve its services with the help of technology.

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