Why You Should Hire Hospitality Workers for Customer Support

2020 has been a year of massive change for every business. Some industries and segments are surging, while some are almost at a standstill. Some organizations desperately need new employees, and some have been forced to release talent into a labor market that’s suddenly flooded with qualified candidates anxious for stable income.

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The need for customer service roles is on the upswing across many industries, thanks to the majority of economic activity shifting rapidly to a stay-at-home consumer base. While candidates with direct call center experience may be hard to come by in such an environment, there are other great places to look.

The hospitality-to-customer-service pipeline represents one such opportunity. Why should this available talent pool be a top-of-mind source for customer service staffing?

With the hospitality industry slowing nearly to a halt in the wake of travel restrictions and coronavirus safety guidelines, hospitality workers with years of experience are readily available as highly capable candidates for customer service roles.

The Most Valuable Skills Are Always Transferrable

A great employee tends to be great everywhere he or she goes, and this certainly applies to hospitality workers. Regardless of a candidate’s qualifications or expected role, the person’s value on the job comes down to a few key skills, such as attention to detail, problem-solving, and communication. These skills do not need to be nurtured through call center experience alone.  

Hospitality Skills Are Customer Service Skills

Former hospitality workers have developed skills that readily transfer to customer support roles. These include key soft skills such as problem-solving and maintaining empathy throughout customer interactions. And successful customer service representatives almost always possess the following qualities:

  • Enjoys human interaction
  • Friendly yet professional
  • A strong communicator, whether via telephone, online, or in person
  • A good listener who can also understand and interpret what the customer means
  • A problem-solver
  • Thorough and detail-oriented
  • Patient and empathetic

The hospitality industry can be a crucible for developing the aforementioned qualities and elite communication skills. Customer satisfaction is vital in the hospitality industry, considering how much more likely a dissatisfied hotel customer is to leave negative reviews, take pictures, and share on social media.

If you’re looking to improve metrics such as customer satisfaction score, know that hospitality workers have interpersonal skills forged right out in the open, with increased stakes that come from face-to-face customer contact with nowhere to hide.

Hospitality Workers Are Adaptable to Necessary Hard Skills

It is important for customer service candidates to have technology skills along with active listening, diplomacy, and empathy. While working to qualify desirable candidate pools for customer service positions that require deft navigation of technology, hospitality experience can be a source of strength.

Hospitality workers generally have technology experience in customer relationship management software, adding a hard skills component to their expertise in interpersonal communication methods. Many hospitality workers even have experience toggling through multiple software programs, not all of which are user-friendly.

Hospitality Employee Adjustments Are Universal to the Workforce

While employees coming from the hospitality industry may need to adjust to working from home, that’s true of almost all customer service candidates in a post-call center world. 

To fulfill the technological requirements for positions in customer service, it’s important to take inventory. Having a clear understanding of what is required for an effective work-from-home setup and clarifying those specifications to new hires is a new step in the staffing process.

In conclusion, if you’re looking to improve customer experience while staffing up in response to a demand surge, expanding your candidate pool to prioritize hospitality workers could be a great advantage for many companies. Even employees with partial experience in this field can transfer these skills, leading to immediate improvements in employee repertoires and customer service while minimizing remote onboarding efforts, which most importantly benefits the customer’s experience and overall company success.

Kathleen Valenti, an Aerotek director specializing in technology and business services, has more than 15 years of staffing experience.