Why You Should Hire Hospitality Workers for Customer Support

Hospitality helping customers during COVID-19

Even before coronavirus, customer support positions could be difficult to fill and retain. 

Hiring managers have already been dealing with a limited candidate pool of experienced professionals, wage restrictions that limit hiring managers’ ability to lure applicants away from local competitors, and ever-increasing expectations for customer service quality due to online reviews.

Now, customer support faces unprecedented resourcing difficulties. The labor market still faces the same constraints as before, but now there are added concerns, such as pivoting entire divisions to remote work while also managing large upswings in hiring. 

There are a few silver linings, though. Candidates with direct call center experience may be hard to come by in such an environment, but there are other great places to look. 

Hospitality workers with years of experience are readily available as highly capable candidates for customer support roles. To find out why this pool of available talent should be a top-of-mind source for customer support staffing, we spoke to Aerotek Director of Strategic Sales Kathleen Valenti.

Hospitality skills transfer directly to customer support

Former hospitality workers have developed skills that readily transfer to customer support roles. Crucially, these include key soft skills such as problem solving and maintaining empathy throughout customer interactions. 

“Those skills are important to hospitality, and literally every one of them is applicable to customer support,” says Valenti.

The hospitality industry can be a crucible for developing elite communication skills.

“Customer satisfaction can be very sink-or-swim in hospitality,” says Valenti, “considering how much more likely a dissatisfied hotel customer is to leave negative reviews, take pictures and share on social media.”

So if you’re looking to improve metrics such as customer satisfaction score, know that hospitality workers have developed their interpersonal skills in a high-stakes environment where conflict resolution involves face-to-face interaction and name tags.

Hospitality workers can adapt quickly to customer support technology

Hospitality workers also tend to have some experience in technology such as customer relationship management software. This familiarity adds a hard skills component to their interpersonal communication abilities that can prepare hospitality workers to hit customer support performance benchmarks faster than candidates from retail or service industry backgrounds.

“It's important for customer support candidates to have technology skills along with active listening, diplomacy and empathy,” says Valenti. “We screen for these abilities, and also help candidates prepare by recommending free online tutorials that apply familiar hard skills to customer support roles.” 

While working to qualify desirable candidate pools for customer support positions that require deft navigation of technology, Valenti sees hospitality experience as a source of strength. “Many hospitality workers will have experience toggling through multiple software — not all of which are user friendly,” she says.

Hospitality-to-customer support adjustments also apply to the entire workforce

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

To fulfill the technological requirements for positions in customer support, it’s important to take inventory. Clarifying those requirements to new hires is a new step in the staffing process. 

“You have to have a clear list of what is needed for a work from home setup,” says Valenti. “On our end, we have candidates take an instant test of their bandwidth and sometimes we do screening interviews to gauge whether hospitality workers are operating in a clean and quiet space.”

These recommended techniques for screening apply equally to every customer support candidate, not just those with hospitality experience. And with regard to specific industry knowledge required to succeed in customer support roles, hospitality workers are also no different than a majority of the customer support talent pool.

“Most people, even if they do have customer service experience, probably don’t have knowledge around multi-service customer benefit plans like health or retirement,” says Valenti. “Companies know that, so they have training around such content.”

So, if you’re looking to improve your customer experience while staffing up in response to a demand surge, consider expanding your candidate pool to prioritize hospitality experience. 

They’re available and extremely qualified.

To get the ball rolling on finding the best possible applicants for customer support positions, reach out to Aerotek.