Service Orientation: How Do You Know When a Job Candidate Has It?

By Doug Walner President & CEO, Psychological Services, Inc. | October 21, 2015

Service orientation, aka personality traits and a predisposition to be helpful, thoughtful, considerate and cooperative, can impact your company's reputation for customer service - an important factor for success in the hospitality industry. Some people have it... and some people don't. Some people appear to have it (especially during job interviews), but, in reality, they're not suited for a service oriented position.

Recent research has shown that being able to predict employee customer service behavior before an employee is hired would be extremely valuable to hospitality managers who must select and assess applicants for service orientated positions (Baydoun et al., 2001). Accordingly, the quality of service can be enhanced if an employer selects individuals for service positions who have the requisite personal characteristics.

However, before we can delve into determining if a job candidate is blessed with "service orientation" we must explain what exactly this term means.

Since the late 1990's, services have become an increasingly important part of the U.S. economy. By 2002, service-producing industries accounted for 81.5 percent of total US employment, with some 179,733,700 employees engaged in service work (U.S. Department of Labor, 2003) - and these numbers continue to rise.

Not surprisingly, this rapid growth of the service sector comes with a heightened focus on customer relations or customer service - especially in industries like hospitality where so often guests judge their experiences based on how they're treated by the staff. Based on this, it is in these companies' best interest to attract, recruit and retain employees who are customer service oriented.

What is Service Orientation?

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Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.