Are you interviewing for a customer service position? Below, we’re going to review some top customer service interview questions. The idea is to give you a leg-up with your job search, and better prepare you for the interview process. Whether you’ll be meeting your prospective employer in person or you need to prepare for a phone interview first, this article should help you get to where you need to be.
You’ll encounter two main types of customer service interview questions – contextual and behavioral. One of the best things you can take into any job interview is confidence. Knowing what to expect and feeling prepared for that is the first step to securing your new role.
So, what is a Customer Service Position?
Customer service positions are one of the most popular jobs in America. In 2018, there were nearly three million individuals working in customer service throughout the country. The average pay for a customer service role is around $35,000 per year, with training being provided on the job.
Customer service representatives primarily get tasked with listening to and managing customer questions and concerns. One of your primary responsibilities will likely be providing answers to such questions and concerns in a professional and polite manner, in line with company policies.
Working as a customer service representative, you will need to provide information about products and services your employer offers – so you’ll need to have a detailed knowledge of all offerings. You may also be responsible for reviewing customer accounts and seeing to any necessary changes. Customer service representatives are also expected to handle customer complaints, providing refunds to eligible customers – so you’ll need to be across the organization’s specific terms and conditions for sales and returns.
The Customer Service Representative Work Environment
Customer service employees work in nearly every industry. That makes it an attractive career that is unlikely to be affected by recessions and economic downturns. Customer service departments have historically been housed at corporate offices. However, working from home or a remote location is becoming more prevalent within the industry.
A customer service representative may be a full-time or part-time position, depending on the role, company, and the specific nature of the work. Within a retail organization, customer service representatives are typically tasked with assisting customers in person and will require long hours on their feet.
Companies often need their customer service representatives to assist customers with their questions, complaints, and concerns during holidays and weekends. Working such hours typically pays more – depending on local employment awards and regulations.
How to Become a Customer Service Representative
Typically, a customer service representative will need to hold a high school diploma rather than a college degree. Most organizations provide workplace training. Material typically covers company-centric systems, product information, and frameworks you’ll be using to deal with queries and complaints.
Customer service training programs usually last between two and four weeks and can be an intensive deep dive into an organization’s policies and systems. Customer service work is a great entry-level employment opportunity, with no set skills or further education requirements. However, a grasp of the hard and soft skills that promote effective interpersonal communication will stand you in good stead. Think being a good listener and communicator, an aptitude for problem-solving, staying patient and calm under pressure, plus having a sound fundamental understanding of computer programs.
Ten of the Top Customer Service Interview Questions
So, you’ve written a killer cover letter, identified some potential jobs, and you’ve made your applications. You’ve made sure to include all your best traits and skills on your resume, and you’ve landed your first interview. So, how can you prepare from here?
Well, heading into your interview well-prepared is the number one way to maximize your chances of securing a job in customer service – even if that’s an online meeting with your prospective employer. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the most popular customer service interview questions. Be sure to read through the list and remember to give each example some serious thought. Answering confidently and displaying an understanding of the role on offer will put you head shoulders above the other candidates.
1. Do you have any previous customer service experience?
This represents one of the top customer service interview questions you’re likely to face – but don’t feel too discouraged if, in your case, the answer is no. Experience definitely isn’t an automatic requirement for many customer service roles, but most hiring managers will want to know is you have any previous experience in a similar job.
A hiring manager will likely ask this question because it allows them to have a better understanding of your previous work experience. It’s also a signal as to your training needs and your experience with customers who have issues or problems. As always, when answering this question, it’s best to be honest and forthright.
2. Why are you looking for a customer service role?
A hiring manager will also be interested in why you want to work in customer service. Organizations will want to identify what motivates you and why you’ve been drawn to this type of role. This is not the best time to list the fact that entry requirements are low. It’s far better to use this as an opportunity to explain why the job suits your skills and traits and demonstrate a willingness to solve problems.
3. Why would you be a good customer service representative?
Following on from the previous question on our list of the top ten customer service interview questions, hiring managers are also likely to ask why you believe you’re a good fit for a role helping customers. This is the time to highlight any relevant computer or technical skills you have and reinforce the fact you’re a patient person with good soft skills.
4. How do you define “good” customer service?
The next question on our list of popular customer service interview questions can be a tricky one to answer. After all, one person’s view of great customer service will likely vary from the next person’s. When addressing this question, it’s an excellent idea to focus on the fact good customer service allows the customer to feel heard, understood, and reassured. You will also want to acknowledge that good customer service allows customers to finish a call in a happier and more pleasant mood than when they started.
5. Why are you interested in a customer service role at our company?
Hiring managers also like to see that you completed your homework and checked out your potential new employer. It’s a great idea to carry out as much research as possible prior to any job interview – and jobs in customer service are no different. That means understanding the company’s offerings and products. It’s also an excellent idea to glean some feel for the company culture and ethos. You can do that by reading the website and checking out the views of former employees on Glassdoor.
If asked this question, you should respond by listing notable products and services. Then, tell the panel or manager why you’re interested and enthused by those offerings. Relating that to your own life is a great idea. Displaying an understanding of how the organization solves customer’s problems will demonstrate that you appreciate its products’ value.
6. Where do you see yourself in five years?
It’s a golden oldie, but it’s very likely to crop up in your customer service representative interview. This top customer service interview question could take the form of where you see yourself in one, two, five, or even ten years? Most hiring managers like to gauge a potential employee’s ambition and determine their career goals early on – because it’s a good signal of how competent and diligent they’ll be in a new role.
While there is no right or wrong answer here, it is always good to show initiative and a willingness to advance your career. Some good answers include, “in five years, I see myself managing a team of customer service representatives” or “in five years, I would like to be a senior customer service representative and provide direct feedback on customer complaints to the product management team.”
Behavioural Questions for a Customer Service Representative Interview – Explaining the STAR Method
While many interviews contain a mix of both contextual and behavioral questions, customer service interviews almost always have a mix of the two. The reason? Hiring managers want to see how you’ll react in specific situations. They may also like to get an idea of the steps you’ll take when handling a particularly difficult customer, for example.
When it comes to answering behavioral-based questions, it is always best to answer using the tried and tested STAR method. That’s a simple structure for providing behavioral examples to commonly asked questions during an interview. The STAR method is an easy-to-remember acronym, which stands for:
Situation, Task, Action, Result
The STAR method addresses who, what, why, or when situations, with specific examples and follow-ups that you were able to accomplish. The STAR method is an easy way to relate the particular situation and follow-up tasks that you completed successfully.
Tell-tale signs that identify when the STAR method would be best utilized are questions like:
- Tell me a time when
- Describe a situation
- Give me an example of
These questions lend themselves well to the STAR method as the interviewer is looking for specific, actionable examples. They would like to know not only the situation but what you did to handle and resolve it. In essence, you’ll want to utilize the STAR method when you want to create a vivid story of a situation you were able to resolve.
1. Tell me about a time you had to handle a demanding customer. What did you do to assuage their frustrations?
If you utilize the STAR method, you’ll be able to answer this question directly and succinctly.
On a recent weekend, I had a customer call in late in the afternoon. (this is the situation)
They were upset about a specific item and requested a refund. (this is the task)
By understanding the product well, I understood that the customer needed to do “x” in order for it to work correctly. I instructed the customer on how to accomplish that. (this is the action)
The customer thanked me and was happy with their purchase. (this is the result)
2. Tell me about a time you went above and beyond for a customer.
Hiring managers love to hear about examples and times when an employee goes above and beyond to ensure that a customer is satisfied. Such instances provide another great opportunity to employ the STAR method. Think about a time you really went out of your way to ensure a customer was happy. Make sure to explain the satisfaction you felt knowing you’d created a customer for life. Don’t forget to use the STAR Method:
Situation, Task, Action, Result
3. Tell me about a time you were unable to satisfy a customer’s complaints.
While hiring managers love to hear about success and delight in happy customer stories, they are well aware that not every interaction ends happily. If you get asked this question, be sure to use an example that showcases your strengths and attempts to assuage the customer.
However, also feel free to add what you took away from the experience. Was there a product flaw that needed to be fixed that you recommended to a line manager? Were there any missing instructions so that you recommended action? Whatever it may be, you’ll want to show the hiring manager how you went above and beyond for every customer – and how you turn negatives into progress.
4. How would you handle a customer who wanted to speak with your manager?
This is another popular question during customer service interviews. For the interviewer, it’s about understanding how you would handle a customer who wanted to speak with your manager – right from the start of their call. Managers like to assess the steps you would take to address customers’ complaints before transferring them to your manager.
A good answer to this question would be something along the lines of:
“While I understand your concerns and frustrations, I would like to assure you that I will be able to answer and resolve any questions and concerns you may have. If at the end of this call, you are not 100% satisfied, I will be happy to transfer you to my direct manager and provide them with a thorough update on your concerns.”
The Ten Top Customer Service Interview Questions: Conclusion
When it comes to the ten most popular customer service interview questions, as we’ve learned, you’ll come across a mix of both contextual and behavioural. While it’s prudent to review customer service-specific questions, it’s also wise to research the most common interview questions customer service applicants hear. Heading to your interview armed with as much knowledge as possible will put you in a good place. While knowing the top ten customer service interview questions is a great place to start preparing for your job search, it’s worth including any computer skills you possess on your resume too. These days, online service and sales are on the rise – so companies want tech-savvy representatives.
Hiring managers will be looking to see that you’ve prepared well for your interview questions. Yet, they’ll also watch for signs you’ve researched products, services, and the company before applying for a customer service job. If you stick with the above guide, you shouldn’t have too many problems or surprises on the day – so good luck!