What life is like for introverts who work in customer service jobs
Career aptitude tests usually try to figure out if you’re an introvert or an extrovert – and they tend to steer the introverts toward occupations that are stereotypically viewed as quiet or solitary, like transcriptionist or librarian. It’s time to discard those stereotypes, though, because introverts can succeed in a wide range of roles, including positions that require a lot of interaction with other people.
One such position is customer service in the hospitality industry. Although introverts may not immediately feel comfortable in a highly visible customer service role, they can excel by embracing the job’s challenges and harnessing their natural strengths.
Challenges for introverts in customer service
While introverts might prefer to spend time alone or with a few close friends, customer service in hospitality involves speaking with many guests every day. It's also important to keep in mind that being introverted, for many, doesn't equate to being anti-social, and there are several misconceptions about the introverted personality type. Many introverts love being around people, although they tend to value, or even require, frequent periods of "down time" or alone time in order to "recharge."
Employees in customer service roles also spend quite a bit of time talking to people they’ve never met before. Introverts, particularly ones that are more on the shy side, have to accept and prepare for the fact that they’ll interact with a lot of new people in this job. It can be easier to adjust to this reality if they review guidelines and scripts for common customer service situations; they may also want to practice acting them out with a close friend, dispelling any anxiety they may have by preparing ahead of time. That way, most scenarios, even ones involving conflict or difficult situations, will feel familiar even if the names and faces are new.
Introverts often keep their thoughts to themselves, but in customer service, they need to remember that the guest can’t read their mind. For example, it’s not enough to silently sympathize about a guest’s disappointing room service purchase; customer service representatives need to convey that validation out loud. It may be helpful for introverts to review a few of their calls and check if they shared all the needed information or if guests were left guessing.
In addition, some introverts are inclined to handle situations by themselves, without asking anyone for help. But in customer service, that’s not always possible. Representatives may need to speak with a front desk agent to confirm some details of a guest’s story or ask a supervisor to authorize an unusual comp. Introverts might want to review some common cases when reaching out is called for and to write a few reminders on post-it notes for when those situations arise.
Strengths introverts bring to customer service
Working in customer service isn’t all challenges for introverts – they bring some important strengths to their work that can give them an advantage over other personality types. In particular, introverts are frequently recognized as outstanding listeners, and listening is crucial to good customer service. Representatives need to pay attention to what each guest is saying and to keep the conversation’s focus on the guest and their experience. That’s easy for introverts.
Introverts’ listening skills can allow them to pick up on details other people miss. Noticing details is essential for fully understanding a guest’s complaints and making sure that every dispute is resolved.
And introverts are good at thinking before they speak, another important skill in customer service. Representatives need to ask questions and fully assess a complaint before making any promises. Introverts are less likely to wrongly assume they have the gist of a complaint and to respond prematurely.
Finally, introverts’ reserved manner can help put guests at ease. A guest who’s already flustered or frustrated might feel even more upset if they’re greeted by a loud and gregarious extrovert whose demeanor is inconsistent with their own mood. Introverts allow others’ feelings to set the tone for a conversation, which means that they usually don’t intimidate or clash with guests.