10 customer service interview questions along with the best answers
Updated: Dec 31, 2021
Job interviews can be tough, to say the least. But they’re also a great opportunity to talk about yourself (who doesn’t enjoy that?), and show off your best skills, especially those that are required for the position you’re going for. When it comes to customer service, it’s all about communication. So if you’re going for an interview in the field, show off your abilities from the get-go, making sure to convey the right messages with your words, body language and demeanor.
As well as trying to get to know you and bringing up general topics (your background, employment history, skills, qualifications and goals), you should prepare for more specific questions. Expect to be asked anything from what good customer service means to you, to behavioral questions that can hint at your problem-solving abilities and emotional intelligence. Other than knowing how to use a robust help desk software, and demonstrating your passion and understanding of the role, here are some customer service interview questions and answers that you’re likely to come across:
What is customer service?
Why they’re asking: The interviewer wants to know that you have a thorough understanding of the field and of the position you’re applying for. The way you answer can also tell them a lot about your verbal skills, so respond in a clear and succinct way. They also want to know that you understand that customer service plays a big part in the company’s reputation.
How to answer: The basic answer is that customer service is providing assistance to a company’s current and potential customer base. If you want to take it a step further (and you should), explain that as a representative, people see you as the face of the company. Therefore, you have a direct impact on customers’ conversion, satisfaction, and retention. That means that you need to have good communication skills, be polite and approachable.
Demonstrate your fluency by using the lingo (“customer satisfaction”, “knowledge base software” and so on), as well as tying in some of the brand’s keywords. This will not only show that you’ve researched into them and are serious about the job, but the interviewer will also get the feeling that you’re already part of the company.
What does good customer service mean to you?
Why they’re asking: This typical customer service interview question will enable the interviewer to see whether you share the same values as them, and more importantly, those of the company. It will also help them determine if you’re aware of the main skills required for good customer service representatives - motivation, empathy and positivity. They want to understand how far you’ll go to ensure your customers get the best service, while sticking to company policy.
How to answer: Good customer service is firstly about understanding the importance of the role and its impact on the company’s reputation. A key part of it is also to ensure that each customer has a satisfactory experience, has had their questions answered and their problems resolved in the best possible way. This will give customers a positive first impression of the company and ensure they return.
In order for this to happen, representatives need to be thoroughly aware of the company’s products or services (and keep up-to-date on new ones), have an optimistic attitude, be efficient with speedy replies and be good at problem-solving. You can also give an example of a personal experience you had, in which you felt that the service was especially good. This can be something from your previous job as a representative, or from your daily life in a shop or restaurant as a patron, for example.
Keep in mind that the recruiter might question you about their own company. In that case, make sure to check beforehand if they have an external knowledge base, and dedicate some time reading the articles you’ll find there to get more acquainted with the details of their products or services.
Why do you want to work in customer service?
Why they’re asking: This helps the interviewer to get to know you better, but what they’re really trying to find out is whether or not you have what it takes to work there. This question enables them to assess whether your capabilities and characteristics suit the position.
How to answer: Essentially, customer solutions is all about helping customers, so you should highlight any skills and personality traits you have that are aligned with the desired qualities of a customer support representative. Other than helping others, this position requires the kind of people that enjoy interacting and making conversation.
It can also get quite challenging - so show that you understand that and that you’re up for the task. More importantly, make it clear in the interview that you enjoy the sense of satisfaction when you’re able to help a customer.
In the past, how have you helped resolve a particularly difficult customer issue?
Why they’re asking: This is one of the most classic customer service interview questions, so try to prepare an answer beforehand. Problem-solving is a skill that can always be improved. The interviewer wants to see whether you can take difficult situations and learn from them, and also see whether you have the ability to come up with solutions independently.
How to answer: Preferably, give a real example. If you do not yet have any direct experience, be honest about that, and think about a related incident, such as helping to resolve a disagreement in a team sport, a dispute from everyday life, or any other work-related situation. Show that you’re always open to stepping in and doing your best to find a solution. This is also an opportunity for the interviewer to see whether you can think “out of the box”, and are capable of solving the issue without necessarily relying on your manager.
However, it’s also understandable if you can’t always manage to do so - just be honest, don’t make something up, and be yourself. If you confided with a colleague to come up with a final answer for the customer, that’s fine, simply try to show how you would go about coming up with an answer in another situation.
Give an example of a time that you helped a customer feel joy, after initial frustration.
Why they’re asking: Calming down a frustrated customer is not easy, but actually leaving them with a positive feeling after your conversation is even harder. This question can give some insights into how patient and approachable you are.
How to answer: Your answer should demonstrate that you have the motivation and integrity to make that extra bit of effort for a customer, even in a complex situation. Look for an example that conveys that you’re patient, a good listener, and can deal with stress in a calm manner.
Don’t forget that you always have to abide by company policies, even if it means giving a customer an answer they may not want to hear. Generally when giving examples, try to provide real ones that you’ll be able to answer additional questions on.
Also, show that you take responsibility for any mistakes you may have made and don’t only give examples that show that your colleagues or customers were at fault.
You should also try to convey that making the customer happy actually makes you happy too. Recruiters like to see that you get this kind of reward from your job. It points to the fact that you’re motivated and are applying for purposes that aren’t just money-related, meaning that you’re more likely to flourish on the job and continue working there.
Can you tell me about how you handled a customer that you found difficult to understand?
Why they’re asking: On the job, you’ll end up working with people from a variety of countries, backgrounds, personalities and levels of understanding. The interviewer wants to know how you’ll react to various situations you’re likely to come across (such as customers’ unclear wording, or use of language you’re not familiar with). This will help them understand if you have the required qualities for the position.
How to answer: For these kinds of situational questions, focus on the qualities you possess and how they align with the needs of the company in relation to the job you’re applying to. This question is really all about communication skills and how well you manage to interpret and address customers’ needs.
Your answer can also highlight your ability to be flexible and think on your feet. You can give a specific example from something you came across in the past, and explain the solution you came up with, while addressing the qualities you demonstrated.
What are your strengths and weaknesses when interacting with customers?
Why they’re asking: Whether you’ll be working in a team or not, your personality is an essential aspect of the role, seeing as you’ll be dealing with a lot of people. This question is a good way for the interviewer to get some insights into your character. As well as listening to your answers, they may be able to sense how honest you are when replying, and see whether they agree with your perception of yourself.
How to answer: Ideally, you should be ready for this question, so come prepared. Whatever your weaknesses are, try to give a positive spin on them. Acknowledging your own weaknesses is a sign of honesty and self awareness. Everyone has certain things that they need to work on and improve, so just show that you’re willing to do what it takes, even if it's a challenge.
You can try to relate your weaknesses to the role. For example, you may think that you can be over empathetic to the customer and provide them with too much advice, and feel that you need to work on that. Your strengths could be that you’re patient, a good listener and have a positive outlook.
The customer is pointing out a well-known problem with your product: what do you do?
Why they’re asking: Clearly, nobody’s perfect. And the same goes for any product. So when it comes to these kinds of situations where a customer gets frustrated about something not working well on your product, it can be a tricky situation to handle. Through your answer to this
question, the interviewer can understand a lot about your interpersonal skills.
How to answer: The best thing you can do is show the interviewer how you deal with the situation with empathy and patience, apologizing to the customer if necessary and telling them that you understand how they feel. You can also thank them for their feedback and assure them that the team is doing their best to fix the issue.
What should you do if a customer asks a question you don’t know the answer to?
Why they’re asking: Your answer to this question can show the interviewer a few things about you - whether you’re independent and look for answers yourself, or more comfortable reaching out to others for help. It can also show how much you’re able to take initiative and do whatever it takes to ensure satisfied customers.
How to answer: Again, honesty is the best policy when answering this kind of question. You can’t always know the answer to everything, especially as products are constantly changing and developing. Even experienced representatives sometimes need help. The best way is to respond calmly, honestly and with confidence.
If you have trouble resolving an issue yourself, it’s okay to say that you’ll look into it and get back to the customer. You can then ask the team leader, other co-workers, or look through your company’s internal knowledge base, to find answers on dealing with this specific issue.
How would you handle an angry customer?
Why they’re asking: Other than the basic skills you need for the job, this customer service interview question also shows them whether you have the ability to solve problems and handle conflict while keeping your cool and preserving the company’s ethics and morals.
How to answer: There are several things to take into account when dealing with angry customers. Demonstrate to the interviewer that you have the ability to handle these situations in a calm and professional manner.
Go on to explain how important it is to be a good listener, especially as each circumstance is unique and requires a different set of actions. By really taking in what the customer is saying and being understandable, you can minimize the chances of sounding robotic. This will ensure that your response is more genuine and approachable.
Try to reply as soon as possible, so that the customer will feel like they are being heard, and hopefully won’t get even more frustrated. When replying to a customer, begin your answer by acknowledging their grievances and apologizing (even if you think they’re being unreasonable).
Then, go on to summarize the problem so that they know you’ve understood them, and provide detailed steps that will help them reach a solution. Don’t forget to keep reassuring the customer, stay relaxed, and occasionally, offering compensation can be a handy tool. Note that this is normally only used to resolve never-ending back and forth conversations, or in cases where the damage is irreplaceable.
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