Customer Service Interview Question & Answer Guide
What customer service interview question can you expect when interviewing for a customer service job opportunity? Although the customer service job varies from employer to employer you can anticipate and prepare for common customer service interview questions.
Knowing the knowledge and core competencies (skills and abilities) required for success in customer service work will help you to predict which questions you will be asked.
The customer service knowledge requirements will vary depending on the organization, the product or service and the scope of the customer service job.
However typical knowledge requirements for a customer service job include:
•knowledge of relevant computer applications
•numeric, oral and written language applications
•customer relationship principles and practices
Questions around the knowledge requirements will usually be answered by reviewing your resume or CV as they refer directly to your qualifications and work experience.
You can prepare for questions that explore your customer service training and your work experience relevant to the specific knowledge requirements listed such as:
"Which software applications are you proficient in?"
"What products and services have you dealt with?"
"How many orders/queries did you deal with on an average day?"
Companies tend to focus on the customer service interview question that looks for evidence of the competencies or behaviors needed to succeed in a customer service position. These are called behavioral interview questions. You will be asked to provide specific examples of when you have previously displayed the required competency.
Go through the customer service interview question that explores these core competencies. Use the answer guidelines to help you prepare your own excellent customer service interview answers.
Think about your past experiences, select appropriate examples and plan your response using the following structure:
•Describe the specific situation or task you were involved in
•Detail the action and steps you took in the situation
•Outline the results and outcome of your actions. What happened, what was accomplished, what did you learn?
Problem analysis and
Key to success in a customer service position is the ability to analyze and assess problems and find workable solutions. Prepare for these sort of interview questions:
"Tell me about a time you had to evaluate a large amount of information to sort out a problem. Talk me through the steps you took."
"Tell me about a difficult situation to which you found a simple solution."
"Give a specific example of when you had to sort out a complex problem for a dissatisfied customer recently."
In your interview answer show how you are able to collect and organize information to identify key issues and detect problems. Describe your ability to consider alternatives and find the most appropriate solution considering the facts, your resources and the customer's needs.
Customer Service Orientation
The interviewer wants to know that you have proven yourself to be both able and willing to provide excellent service to the customer.
"Describe a time you had to ask a number of questions and listen carefully to fully understand the customer's query."
"Describe a recent situation when you had to handle an angry customer."
"How do you define going the extra mile for your customer, give me an example of when you have done this."
In your interview answer discuss how you develop positive customer relationships by actively listening and making the effort to understand the customer's needs, meeting and exceeding the customer's expectations and taking responsibility for the customer's satisfaction.
Attention to Detail
A frequently asked customer service interview question will focus on your ability to collect and process information accurately.
"Take me through the process you use to check that you have the right details from a customer."
"Describe a time that you picked up an error or problem that had been overlooked by others at work."
"Tell me about a time that you had a confusing interaction with a customer, how did you clarify things?"
In your interview answer describe your attention to all details of the customer interaction, however small. Show how you clarify the details by asking questions. Describe the steps you take to ensure you have complete information and accurately check your work processes and output.
Customer service means dealing with a variety of people and demands, the ability to adjust to the situation and the individual is an important job requirement. Expect the customer service interview question that evaluates your adaptability.
"Describe a time you had to change your approach to a customer because your initial attempts were unsuccessful."
"Tell me about a time you have had to adjust to a new manager who had a different management style to what you were used to."
"Give an example of when you had to deal with a major change in the customer relationship practices in your workplace."
In your interview answer show how you are able to maintain your effectiveness in different situations and when dealing with different people. Describe how you adjusted your approach, your communication style and your behavior to meet different needs and demands.
It is difficult to keep calm and patient when dealing with unreasonable and demanding customers, however this is essential behavior when providing efficient customer service! This will be assessed with a customer service interview question such as:
"Tell me about a recent situation with a customer that really tested your patience."
"Tell me about a time you experienced conflicting work demands, how did you respond?"
"Describe a situation when you had to deal with an unpleasant customer who was making unreasonable demands."
In your interview answer show you are able to maintain a positive attitude and a high performance standard under pressure and in the face of challenges. Describe how you use appropriate coping techniques to keep calm under provocation and stress and that you are able to show patience when faced with a difficult customer.
Your ability to communicate effectively with customers and your ability to actively listen will be assessed as you interact with the interviewer. Make sure you speak clearly and concisely, choosing your words with care and using correct grammar. Listen closely to questions and ask for further clarification if you do not properly understand something. For comprehensive advice on how to communicate effectively in the job interview go to:
Communication Tips for Job Interviews
Prepare for the customer service interview question that explores your motivation for the customer service job. These include:
"What do you regard as being the most positive aspects of dealing with customers?"
"What do you like and dislike about the customer service job?"
How to answer the questions:
What does excellent customer service mean to you?
Customer service interview questions like this come up regularly in interviews for all types of customer service jobs.
It is asked to evaluate your understanding of good customer service, your level of expectation with regard to customer service and your knowledge of common customer service principles and practices. This is one of the customer service interview questions you really need to prepare a proper answer for.
In your interview answer focus on the following points about providing good customer service:
the first impression the customer gets of the business should be positive. Consider aspects such as accessibility, layout, cleanliness, offer of help from personnel. Alternatively the initial impression the customer gets over the phone must be good - how quickly is the call picked up, is the customer helped and directed correctly?
good customer service means accurately finding out the customer's needs by listening properly and asking the right questions. Paying close attention to what the customer is saying to make sure you receive the right message is key.
the ability to meet these needs efficiently and solving the customer's problem by having good product or service knowledge, enough information and a positive attitude is core to customer service
the willingness to provide proper attention to complaints and dealing with them appropriately. Good customer service should be offered with politeness, respect and understanding. It is about attending to customer concerns promptly and accurately.
the commitment to keep to deadlines or delivery dates is essential. Ensuring that the product or service is delivered when promised or the problem addressed by the agreed deadline and following up with the customer to ensure satisfaction results in a happy customer.
Good customer service is more than just a friendly smile and an offer of help - every aspect of the customer's experience should be included. It is about taking the extra step, making the extra effort at every customer
Find out more at What is the Definition of Customer Service?
Describe your customer service philosophy.
This question requires a prepared mission statement that sums up your approach to customer service. For example:
"My philosophy is to take personal responsibility for developing a positive relationship and providing a good experience for each customer by giving efficient, accurate and prompt service, by listening to and understanding the customer's needs, by meeting or exceeding these needs and by meeting my commitments, keeping my promises and taking ownership of my mistakes."
How do you measure good customer service?
Interviewers like to ask this customer service interview question because it explores the candidate's understanding of how to quantify good customer service in a business context. Customer service is intangible but there are many ways of measuring whether you are delivering good customer service including:
number of repeat customers
customer satisfaction surveys
number and type of customer complaints received
number of new customers
number of referrals given by current customers
sales figures on specific products
the number of returns
benchmarking service with competitors