Customer service is the backbone of any business, directly affecting customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. Customer service professionals are the face and voice of the company, and they can make or break the customer experience.
Hiring the right customer service professionals is not an easy task, as it requires finding candidates with a range of skills and qualities essential for delivering excellent service. Some of these skills and qualities include:
- Active listening: Listening attentively and empathetically to customers’ needs, concerns, and feedback.
- Adaptability: Adjusting to different situations, customers, and expectations, and coping with stress and change.
- Collaboration: Working well with others, both within and outside the customer service team, and contributing to a positive team culture.
- Communication: Expressing oneself clearly and professionally in both verbal and written forms, using appropriate tone, language, and etiquette.
- Conflict resolution: Handling difficult or angry customers calmly and respectfully, and de-escalate tense situations.
- Customer service orientation: Putting customers first, exceeding their expectations, and striving for continuous improvement.
- Problem-solving: Analyzing, evaluating, and resolving customer issues effectively and efficiently, using creativity and critical thinking.
One of the best ways to identify the right candidates for customer service roles is through interviews. Interviews allow you to assess the candidates’ skills and qualities in a realistic and interactive setting.
STAR interview questions and answers for customer service
Regardless of which end of the interview you’re on, it’s good to know the STAR interviewing method.
The STAR interview method is a way of answering behavioral or situational questions that ask you to provide an example of how you handled a specific challenge or scenario in the past. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Here is what each component means:
- Situation: You describe the context or background of the situation you faced. For example, you might say, “I was a cashier at a grocery store and one evening we had a long queue of customers waiting to check out. One of the customers was an elderly lady who had difficulty walking and carrying her bags.”
- Task: You explain what your goal or responsibility was in that situation. For example, you might say, “I noticed that she was struggling and offered to help her. I asked her if she needed any assistance with packing her groceries or loading them into her car.”
- Action: You describe the specific actions you took to complete the task or solve the problem. For example, you might say, “She gratefully accepted my offer and I packed her bags carefully and carried them to her car.”
- Result: You share the outcome or impact of your actions, preferably with some quantifiable data or evidence. For example, you might say, “She thanked me for my kindness and said that I made her day.”
The STAR method helps you structure your answer in a clear and concise way, while also highlighting your skills and abilities that are relevant to the job. By using this method, you can demonstrate how you applied your knowledge, experience, and competencies in real-life situations.
Now, here interview questions for customer service and answers: 10 questions each with 5 sample answers, divided by category.
Behavioral interview questions for customer service with examples
These questions help you gauge how a candidate would respond in a stressful or uncertain situation.
Question 1: Describe a situation where you provided exceptional customer service.
Answer 1: Providing a Refund
I once had a customer who was very unhappy with the product they received from our online store. They contacted me through email and demanded a full refund.
I apologized for the inconvenience and asked them to send me a photo of the product and the receipt. I also offered them a free replacement or an ecard (electronic gift card) as a goodwill gesture. The customer was satisfied with the options and chose the gift card.
I processed their refund and sent them the gift card code within 24 hours. The customer thanked me for my prompt and courteous service and said they would shop with us again.
Answer 2: Receptionist Power Outage
I worked as a receptionist at a dental clinic and one day we had a power outage that affected our phone system and appointment schedule. I quickly contacted our IT support and backup generator provider to resolve the issue.
In the meantime, I used my personal cell phone to call all the patients who had appointments that day and informed them of the situation. I also rescheduled their appointments according to their preferences and availability.
I managed to reach all the patients before they arrived at the clinic and avoided any confusion or frustration. The patients appreciated my proactive communication and flexibility.
Answer 3: Struggling Customer
I was a cashier at a grocery store and one evening we had a long queue of customers waiting to check out. One of the customers was an elderly lady who had difficulty walking and carrying her bags.
I noticed that she was struggling and offered to help her. I asked her if she needed any assistance with packing her groceries or loading them into her car. She gratefully accepted my offer and I packed her bags carefully and carried them to her car.
She thanked me for my kindness and said that I made her day.
Answer 4: Tutor with a dyslexic student
I worked as a tutor at a learning center and one of my students was a young boy who had dyslexia. He was having trouble with reading and writing and felt discouraged by his low grades. I decided to create a personalized learning plan for him that incorporated his interests and strengths.
I used games, puzzles, songs, and stories to make learning fun and engaging for him. I also praised his efforts and achievements and encouraged him to keep trying. He gradually improved his skills and confidence and started to enjoy learning.
Answer 5: Overcharging at a Restaurant
I was a waiter at a restaurant and one night we had a large group of customers who came in for a birthday celebration. They ordered several dishes and drinks from our menu and seemed to have a good time.
However, when they received their bill, they noticed that we had charged them for an extra dish that they did not order. They complained to me and asked me to correct the mistake. I apologized for the error and explained that it was a miscommunication between the kitchen staff and me.
I immediately removed the extra charge from their bill and gave them a complimentary dessert as an apology. They were happy with the resolution and left me a generous tip.
Question 2: How did you handle an unreasonable customer, and what was the outcome?
Answer 1: Defective Product
I once had a customer who called me to complain about a product that they bought from our website. They claimed that the product was defective and demanded a refund. I listened to their complaint calmly and empathetically and asked them to provide me with their order number and the details of the problem.
I checked our records and found out that the product had a warranty and that they could return it for a free replacement. I explained this to the customer and offered to send them a prepaid shipping label and a new product as soon as possible.
The customer was still angry and insisted on getting a refund. I apologized for their dissatisfaction and told them that I could not process a refund without receiving the product first. I also reminded them of our return policy and asked them to cooperate with us. The customer eventually agreed to send back the product and accepted the replacement.
I thanked them for their understanding and followed up with them until they received the new product and confirmed that it was working properly.
Answer 2: Dress Out of Stock
I worked as a sales associate at a clothing store and one day I had a customer who wanted to buy a dress that was out of stock. She asked me to check if we had any more in the back or at another store. I politely told her that we did not have any more of that dress in any size or color and that it was a seasonal item that we would not be getting again.
She became very upset and accused me of lying and hiding the dress from her. She also demanded to speak to my manager and threatened to write a bad review online. I apologized for her frustration and assured her that I was telling the truth. I also suggested some alternative dresses that were similar to the one she wanted and offered her a discount coupon as a gesture of goodwill.
She refused to listen to me and continued to yell at me. I remained calm and professional and asked her to lower her voice and respect our store policy. I also called my manager and explained the situation to him. He came over and backed me up on what I said. He also tried to calm down the customer and offer her some options, but she was still unreasonable. He then asked her to leave the store or he would call security.
While I usually am able to handle angry customers in a calm and reasonable manner, there are times that escalation is needed, and I’m able to recognize those situations.
Answer 3: Customer Forgot Security Question
I was a customer service representative at a bank and one of my tasks was to handle online chat inquiries from customers. One day, I received a chat request from a customer who wanted to transfer money from his account to another account. I greeted him warmly and asked him for his account number and security question.
He gave me his account number, but he did not know his security question. I told him that I could not proceed with his request without verifying his identity first. He became very rude and said that he did not have time for this nonsense. He also said that he knew his account number and password, so why did I need his security question?
I explained to him that it was for his own safety and security, and that it was part of our standard procedure. I also asked him if he had access to his email or phone, so that I could send him a verification code instead.
He said that he did not have either of them with him, and that he just wanted me to do what he asked. He also started to use profanity and personal attacks against me. I warned him that his behavior was unacceptable and that I would end the chat if he continued to be abusive.
He ignored my warning and kept on insulting me. Per our policy against abuse in our chat, I ended the chat session and reported him to my supervisor
Answer 4: Hotel Receptionist
I worked as a hotel receptionist and one night I had a customer who checked in very late. He had made a reservation online for a single room with a king-sized bed, but when he arrived, he said that he wanted a double room with two queen-sized beds instead.
I checked our availability and saw that we did not have any double rooms left for that night, only single rooms with different bed sizes. I apologized for the inconvenience and told him that we could not accommodate his request at the moment, but we could try to change his room the next day if there were any cancellations or early checkouts.
He was very unhappy with this answer and said that he had paid for a double room online and that he had confirmation email from us. He showed me his email on his phone, but it clearly stated that he had booked a single room with a king-sized bed, just like what we had reserved for him. I pointed this out to him and showed him our reservation system as well.
He still refused to accept it and said that it was our fault for misleading him online. He also demanded a refund or a free upgrade as compensation. I told him that we could not do either of those things, because we were fully booked for that night, and that is not within our policy.
He then started to raise his voice and cause a scene in the lobby. He also threatened to sue us and write a negative review online. I tried to calm him down and reason with him, but he was not listening.
Based on the customer’s reaction, I called my manager to escalate the situation.He arrived shortly and repeated what I had said to the customer. He also showed him our terms and conditions online, which stated that the room type was subject to availability and that we reserved the right to change it without prior notice. He also told him that he could either take the room that we had for him or find another hotel, but we would not refund or upgrade him.
The customer finally took the room.
Answer 5: Rowdy Passenger on a Flight
I was a flight attendant on a domestic flight and one of my duties was to serve drinks and snacks to the passengers. One of the passengers was a woman who ordered a glass of wine from me.
I asked her for her ID, as it was our policy to check the age of anyone who ordered alcohol on board. She looked offended and said that she was old enough to drink and that she did not have her ID with her. I apologized and told her that I could not serve her alcohol without seeing her ID first, as it was the law and our company policy.
She said that it was ridiculous and that she had never been asked for her ID before on any other flight. She also said that she was a frequent flier and a loyal customer of our airline, and that she deserved better treatment from us.
She demanded to speak to the captain or the supervisor and get her wine. I told her that I could not do that, as they were busy with other matters, and that I was just following the rules. I also offered her some other drinks or snacks instead, but she refused them all.
She then started to complain loudly to the other passengers and tried to get them on her side. She also accused me of being discriminatory and unprofessional.
I remained calm and polite and tried to explain the situation to her again, but she was not listening. I also asked her to lower her voice and respect the other passengers, but she ignored me.
I then decided to report her to the supervisor, who came over and talked to her. He also told her the same thing that I had told her, but he also warned her that if she continued to cause trouble, he would have to report her to the authorities when we landed. She finally quieted down.
Question 3: Share an experience where you had to bend the rules to assist a customer.
Answer 1: I waived a late fee for a loyal customer who had a personal emergency.
I worked as a customer service representative for a cable company and one of my tasks was to collect payments from customers who had overdue bills. One day, I called a customer who had been with us for over 10 years and had always paid on time.
He told me that he had missed his last payment because he had to travel out of town for his father’s funeral and he forgot to set up an automatic payment. He apologized for the delay and asked me if I could waive the late fee of $25 that was added to his bill. I checked his account history and saw that he had never been late before and that he had a good credit score.
I decided to bend the rules and waive the fee for him as a gesture of goodwill and sympathy. I told him that I was sorry for his loss and that I appreciated his loyalty to our company. He thanked me profusely and said that he would make the payment as soon as possible. He also said that he would recommend our company to his friends and family.
Answer 2: I gave a free upgrade to a customer who had a bad experience with our product.
I worked as a sales associate at an electronics store. One day, a customer came in with a laptop that he had bought from us two weeks ago. He said that the laptop was defective and that it kept crashing and freezing.
I inspected the laptop and saw that it was indeed faulty and that it was covered by our warranty policy. I apologized for the inconvenience and told him that he could either get a refund or an exchange for another laptop of the same model or value.
The customer said that he did not want the same model because he had read online reviews that said it was prone to problems. He also said that he did not want to pay more for another laptop because he had already spent a lot of money on this one. He asked me if there was anything else I could do for him.
I decided to bend the rules and give him a free upgrade to a better laptop that was worth $200 more than his original purchase. I told him that I wanted to make up for his bad experience and that I hoped he would enjoy his new laptop.
The customer was very surprised and grateful. He said that he would come back to our store again.
Answer 3: I extended a coupon expiration date for a customer who had a valid reason for missing it.
I worked as a cashier at a bookstore and one of my tasks was to scan coupons from customers who wanted to get discounts on their purchases.
One day, I had a customer who came in with a coupon that had expired two days ago. She said that she had received the coupon in her email as part of our loyalty program, but she did not have time to use it because she was busy with her final exams at school.
She showed me her student ID and her exam schedule and asked me if I could still honor the coupon, which was worth 20% off any book in the store. I checked the coupon code and saw that it was still valid in our system, but it had an expiration date that we were supposed to follow strictly.
I decided to bend the rules and extend the expiration date for her as a gesture of goodwill and understanding. I told her that I recognized her hard work as a student and that I wanted to reward her with a good deal on books. She thanked me sincerely and said that she would use the coupon to buy some books for her summer reading.
Answer 4: I allowed a customer to return an item without a receipt after verifying their purchase history.
I worked as a customer service representative at an online retailer and one of my tasks was to process returns and refunds from customers who were not happy with their orders. One day, I received an email from a customer who wanted to return an item that they had bought from us three months ago.
They said that the item was damaged when they received it, but they did not contact us right away because they were traveling abroad for work. They also said that they did not have the receipt or the order confirmation email anymore, but they still had the item in its original packaging with the barcode sticker on it. They asked me if they could still return the item and get a refund or an exchange.
I checked their purchase history in our database and saw that they had indeed bought the item from us three months ago, but they had exceeded our 30-day return policy by two months. I decided to bend the rules and allow them to return the item without a receipt after verifying their purchase history. I told them that I was sorry for the damage and that I wanted to make things right for them. I also told them that they could either get a refund or an exchange for another item of the same value.
They chose to get a refund and said that they appreciated my help and flexibility.
Answer 5: I delivered a pizza to a customer who lived outside our delivery zone after hearing their story.
I worked as a pizza delivery driver and one of my tasks was to deliver pizzas to customers who lived within our delivery zone, which was a 10-mile radius from our store. One night, I received an order from a customer who lived 12 miles away from our store.
They had ordered a large pepperoni pizza and a 2-liter bottle of soda. They also left a note on the online order form that said “Please deliver, it’s my son’s birthday and he loves your pizza.” I checked the map and saw that they lived outside our delivery zone, which meant that we were not supposed to deliver to them.
I decided to bend the rules and deliver the pizza to them anyway after hearing their story. I told my manager that I was going to make an exception for this customer and that I would cover the extra gas money myself. He agreed and said that it was a nice thing to do.
I drove to the customer’s address and delivered the pizza and the soda. The customer was very happy and surprised and said that they did not expect us to deliver to them. They also said that it was their son’s 10th birthday and that he was a big fan of our pizza. They invited me in and introduced me to their son, who thanked me for the pizza and gave me a hug. They also gave me a generous tip and a slice of cake.
I wished them a happy birthday and drove back to the store with a smile on my face.
Problem-Solving Skills Customer Service Interview Questions
These questions test a candidate’s problem-solving skills.
Question 4: How do you approach technical issues you don’t have an immediate answer to?
Answer 1: Use available resources and escalate if needed
When I encounter a technical issue that I don’t have an immediate answer to, I use the following steps to approach it:
- First, I try to understand the issue by asking the customer clarifying questions and listening carefully to their description of the problem. I also try to reproduce the issue on my own device or system if possible.
- Second, I search for the answer using the available resources, such as the knowledge base, the FAQs, the manuals, or the online forums. I also consult with my colleagues or supervisors if they have encountered a similar issue before or have any suggestions.
- Third, I communicate with the customer and inform them of the progress of my investigation. I also apologize for any inconvenience caused by the issue and assure them that I am doing my best to resolve it as soon as possible.
- Fourth, I provide the customer with the answer or solution if I find it. I also explain to them how to implement it and verify that it works. I also ask them for feedback and thank them for their patience and cooperation.
- Fifth, if I cannot find the answer or solution after exhausting all the resources, I escalate the issue to a higher level of support or a technical expert. I also inform the customer of this action and provide them with an estimated time frame for a resolution. I also follow up with them until the issue is resolved.
Answer 2: Use critical thinking and problem-solving skills
When I face a technical issue that I don’t have an immediate answer to, I use the following steps to approach it:
- First, I analyze the issue by breaking it down into smaller components and identifying the root cause and the possible factors that contribute to it. I also gather relevant information from the customer, such as their device specifications, their operating system, their software version, or their error messages.
- Second, I brainstorm possible solutions by generating different ideas and evaluating their pros and cons. I also consider alternative scenarios and outcomes and weigh their risks and benefits.
- Third, I communicate with the customer and explain to them the nature of the issue and the potential solutions. I also ask for their input and preferences and involve them in the decision-making process.
- Fourth, I implement the chosen solution by following a step-by-step procedure and testing its effectiveness. I also document the process and the results for future reference.
- Fifth, if the solution does not work or causes new problems, I revise it by modifying some parameters or trying a different approach. I also seek feedback from the customer and monitor their satisfaction level.
Answer 3: Use creativity and innovation
When I encounter a technical issue that I don’t have an immediate answer to, I use the following steps to approach it:
- First, I explore the issue by asking open-ended questions and using active listening skills to understand the customer’s perspective and expectations. I also observe how they use their device or system and what features or functions they need or want.
- Second, I experiment with different solutions by using trial-and-error methods and applying various techniques or tools. I also challenge myself to think outside-the-box and come up with novel or unconventional ideas.
- Third, I communicate with the customer and share with them my findings and insights. I also demonstrate how my solutions work and how they can benefit from them. I also invite them to give me their opinions and suggestions.
- Fourth, I refine my solutions by incorporating the customer’s feedback and making improvements or adjustments. I also compare my solutions with existing ones and highlight their advantages or disadvantages.
- Fifth, if my solutions are not feasible or acceptable, I learn from them by identifying what went wrong and what can be done better. I also acknowledge my limitations and seek help from others if needed.
Answer 4: Use collaboration and teamwork
When I face a technical issue that I don’t have an immediate answer to, I use the following steps to approach it:
- First, I acknowledge the issue by expressing empathy and understanding to the customer. I also apologize for any inconvenience or frustration caused by the issue and assure them that I will do everything in my power to resolve it.
- Second, I reach out to other members of my team or department who have more experience or expertise in dealing with similar issues. I also share with them relevant information about the customer’s situation and expectations.
- Third, I communicate with the customer and update them on the status of my inquiry. I also inform them of who else is involved in resolving their issue and how long it might take.
- Fourth, I work together with my team members or colleagues to find a solution that meets both the customer’s needs and our standards. We also coordinate our actions and responsibilities to ensure a smooth and efficient process.
- Fifth, if we cannot find a solution within our scope or authority, we escalate the issue to a higher level of support or management. We also communicate this action to the customer and provide them with a contact person and a reference number.
Answer 5: Use customer feedback and continuous improvement
When I encounter a technical issue that I don’t have an immediate answer to, I use the following steps to approach it:
- First, I validate the issue by confirming its existence and severity with the customer. I also ask them how the issue affects their experience and satisfaction with our product or service.
- Second, I research the issue by looking for similar cases or reports from other customers or sources. I also check for any updates or patches that might have been released to address the issue.
- Third, I communicate with the customer and provide them with a realistic and honest assessment of the issue and its possible solutions. I also set clear and reasonable expectations and timelines for a resolution.
- Fourth, I apply the best solution that is available or feasible at the moment. I also follow up with the customer and ensure that the solution works and that they are satisfied with it.
- Fifth, if the solution is temporary or incomplete, I collect feedback from the customer and use it to improve or enhance the solution. I also report the issue and its resolution to the relevant parties or departments for further action or development.
Question 5: Can you describe a time when you needed to make a judgment call due to a lack of clear policies?
Answer 1: Handle a customer complaint without a clear policy
One time, I had to deal with a customer who was very unhappy with the quality of the product they received from us. They said that the product was defective and did not match the description or the picture on our website. They demanded a full refund and a free replacement.
We did not have a clear policy on how to handle such cases, as they were very rare and depended on various factors, such as the type of product, the extent of the defect, and the availability of the replacement. I had to make a judgment call based on my best understanding of the situation and the customer’s expectations.
I decided to offer the customer a full refund and a 50% discount on their next purchase from us. I explained to them that we were very sorry for the inconvenience and that we valued their feedback and loyalty. I also told them that we could not provide them with a free replacement, as we did not have the stock. I assured them that we would inspect our products more carefully in the future and that we would update our website with more accurate information and pictures.
The customer was satisfied with my offer and thanked me for my professionalism and courtesy. They said that they would continue to shop with us and that they appreciated our honesty and generosity.
Answer 2: Resolve a scheduling conflict without a clear policy
One time, I had to deal with a scheduling conflict between two customers who had booked the same service at the same time slot. They both claimed that they had made their reservations online and that they had received confirmation emails from us. They both refused to reschedule or cancel their bookings.
We did not have a clear policy on how to handle such cases, as they were very rare and depended on various factors, such as the availability of the service provider, the urgency of the service, and the preferences of the customers. I had to make a judgment call based on my best understanding of the situation and the customer’s needs.
I decided to contact the service provider and ask them if they could accommodate both customers by extending their working hours or splitting their time between them. The service provider agreed to do so and said that they would charge us an extra fee for their overtime work. I then contacted both customers and explained to them the situation and the solution. I also offered them each a 10% discount on their service as a gesture of goodwill and apology. I asked them if they were willing to accept this arrangement or if they preferred to reschedule or cancel their bookings.
Both customers agreed to accept this arrangement and thanked me for my quick and effective response. They said that they were impressed by our flexibility and generosity and that they looked forward to receiving their service.
Answer 3: Approve a special request without a clear policy
One time, I had to deal with a customer who had made a special request that was not covered by our standard policies or procedures. They wanted us to customize their order by adding some extra features or options that were not normally available or offered by us. They said that they were willing to pay an additional fee for this service.
We did not have a clear policy on how to handle such cases, as they were very rare and depended on various factors, such as the feasibility of the request, the cost of the materials, and the time required for the customization. I had to make a judgment call based on my best understanding of the situation and the customer’s expectations.
I decided to consult with our production team and ask them if they could fulfill the customer’s request and how much it would cost us. The production team said that they could do it but it would take longer than usual and it would require some extra materials and labor. They gave me an estimate of the additional fee that we would have to charge the customer for this service. I then contacted the customer and explained to them the situation and the solution. I also quoted them the additional fee and asked them if they were still interested in proceeding with their order.
The customer was delighted with our response and agreed to pay the additional fee. They said that they were very grateful for our willingness to accommodate their request and that they were excited to receive their customized order.
Answer 4: Deny a refund request without a clear policy
One time, I had to deal with a customer who wanted to return an item that they had bought from us more than six months ago, even though we had a 30-day return policy. They said that they had never used or opened the item and that they still had the original receipt and packaging. They asked me if they could get a full refund or an exchange for another item.
We did not have a clear policy on how to handle such cases, as they were very rare and depended on various factors, such as the condition of the item, the reason for the return, and the availability of the exchange. I had to make a judgment call based on my best understanding of the situation and the customer’s expectations.
I decided to deny the customer’s refund request and explain to them why. I told them that we had a 30-day return policy and that they had exceeded it by more than five months. I also told them that we could not accept returns or exchanges for items that were not defective or damaged. I apologized for any inconvenience and disappointment and suggested that they could try to sell or donate their item to someone else who might need or want it.
The customer was not happy with my decision and argued that they had a valid reason for returning the item. They said that they had bought it as a gift for someone who had passed away before they could give it to them. They said that they did not want to keep the item as it reminded them of their loss and that they deserved a refund or an exchange.
I sympathized with the customer and expressed my condolences for their loss. I also reiterated our return policy and explained that we had to follow it for all customers and all cases. I asked them to understand our position and respect our decision. I also offered them a 20% discount on their next purchase from us as a gesture of goodwill and sympathy.
The customer was still unhappy but accepted my offer and thanked me for my compassion and understanding. They said that they would think about what to do with their item and that they would consider shopping with us again in the future.
Answer 5: Grant an exception without a clear policy
One time, I had to deal with a customer who had missed a deadline for a promotion that we were running on our website. They said that they had tried to place their order online before the deadline but they had encountered some technical difficulties that prevented them from completing their transaction. They asked me if they could still get the promotional price or offer.
We did not have a clear policy on how to handle such cases, as they were very rare and depended on various factors, such as the nature of the promotion, the evidence of the technical difficulties, and the impact on our sales and profits. I had to make a judgment call based on my best understanding of the situation and the customer’s expectations.
I decided to grant the customer an exception and honor the promotional price or offer. I verified their claim by checking our website logs and seeing that they had indeed attempted to place their order before the deadline but had encountered an error message.
I also considered that the promotion was not very significant or costly for us and that granting an exception would not affect our bottom line or our inventory. I then contacted the customer and apologized for the technical difficulties and informed them of my decision. I also thanked them for their interest in our product or service and encouraged them to complete their order as soon as possible.
The customer was very happy with my decision and thanked me for my kindness and generosity. They said that they appreciated our customer service and that they would recommend us to their friends and family. They also completed their order without any further issues.
Communication and Empathy Customer Service Interview Questions
Communication and empathy are essential soft skills for customer service. These questions help you assess how a candidate performs there.
Question 6 How do you adapt your communication style when dealing with different types of customers?
Answer 1: Using empathy and active listening
I believe that empathy and active listening are essential for communicating effectively with different types of customers. Empathy allows me to understand the customer’s perspective, feelings, and needs, while active listening helps me to show interest, ask relevant questions, and confirm understanding. By using these skills, I can tailor my communication style to suit the customer’s situation and personality.
For example, if I encounter an angry customer who is complaining about a product defect, I would use empathy to acknowledge their frustration and apologize sincerely. I would also use active listening to clarify the issue and offer a solution that meets their expectations.
On the other hand, if I encounter a satisfied customer who is giving positive feedback, I would use empathy to express my appreciation and gratitude. I would also use active listening to encourage them to share more details and suggest ways to improve their experience further.
Answer 2: Using appropriate tone and language
I understand that different types of customers may have different preferences and expectations for the tone and language of communication. Therefore, I always try to adjust my tone and language according to the customer’s mood, attitude, and level of formality. By doing so, I can build rapport, trust, and respect with the customer.
For instance, if I deal with a professional customer who is polite and formal, I would use a courteous and respectful tone and language. I would avoid slang, jargon, or humor that may be inappropriate or offensive. I would also use proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling to convey professionalism and credibility.
Conversely, if I deal with a casual customer who is friendly and informal, I would use a warm and conversational tone and language. I would use common expressions, idioms, or jokes that may be suitable or amusing. I would also use emoticons, abbreviations, or exclamation marks to convey enthusiasm and emotion.
Answer 3: Using different channels and modes of communication
I realize that different types of customers may have different preferences and expectations for the channels and modes of communication. Therefore, I always try to adapt my communication style according to the customer’s choice and convenience. By doing so, I can ensure that the communication is effective, efficient, and satisfying for the customer.
For example, if I communicate with a customer via phone call, I would use a clear and confident voice and speak at a moderate pace and volume. I would also use verbal cues such as “uh-huh”, “I see”, or “okay” to indicate that I am listening and following the conversation. Additionally, I would repeat or summarize the key points at the end of the call to confirm understanding and agreement. Alternatively, if I communicate with a customer via email or chat, I would use a concise and coherent writing style and format my message with headings, bullet points, or numbered lists. I would also use visual aids such as screenshots, images, or links to illustrate or support my message. Furthermore, I would respond promptly and politely to the customer’s queries or requests.
Answer 4: Using positive and constructive feedback
I recognize that different types of customers may have different reactions and responses to feedback. Therefore, I always try to provide positive and constructive feedback that is specific, timely, and actionable. By doing so, I can motivate the customer to improve their performance or behavior, as well as maintain a good relationship with them.
For example, if I give feedback to a customer who is performing well or exceeding expectations, I would use positive feedback to praise their achievements and strengths. I would also use constructive feedback to suggest areas for improvement or opportunities for growth. On the other hand, if I give feedback to a customer who is performing poorly or falling short of expectations, I would use constructive feedback to point out their weaknesses and challenges. I would also use positive feedback to acknowledge their efforts and potential.
Answer 5: Using open-ended and closed-ended questions
I know that different types of customers may have different needs and goals for communication. Therefore, I always try to use open-ended and closed-ended questions appropriately to elicit information, opinions, or feedback from the customer. By doing so, I can facilitate the communication process and achieve the desired outcomes.
For instance, if I want to gather information from a customer who is new or unfamiliar with our products or services, I would use open-ended questions to invite them to share their background, needs, or preferences. I would also use closed-ended questions to verify facts or details that are relevant or important.
Conversely, if I want to provide information to a customer who is experienced or familiar with our products or services, I would use closed-ended questions to confirm their understanding or satisfaction. I would also use open-ended questions to encourage them to ask questions or give feedback that are valuable or helpful.
Question 7: Share an example of when you had to convince a customer or colleague to change their approach.
Answer 1: Using persuasion and negotiation techniques
I have experience in using persuasion and negotiation techniques to convince a customer or colleague to change their approach. Persuasion involves appealing to the customer’s or colleague’s emotions, values, or interests, while negotiation involves finding a mutually beneficial solution that satisfies both parties.
For example, when I worked as a sales associate at a clothing store, I had to convince a customer who wanted to buy a dress that was too small for her to try a different size. I used persuasion by complimenting her appearance and style, and suggesting that a larger size would fit her better and make her more comfortable.
I also used negotiation by offering her a discount on the dress if she agreed to try the larger size. The customer was convinced by my arguments and agreed to change her approach. She was happy with the dress and thanked me for my help.
Answer 2: Using logic and evidence
I have experience in using logic and evidence to convince a customer or colleague to change their approach. Logic involves presenting clear and coherent arguments that support my position, while evidence involves providing facts, data, or examples that back up my claims.
For example, when I worked as a customer service representative at a software company, I had to convince a colleague who was using an outdated version of the software to upgrade to the latest version. I used logic by explaining the benefits of the new version, such as improved features, security, and performance. I also used evidence by showing him the positive reviews and testimonials from other users who had upgraded to the new version. The colleague was convinced by my reasoning and evidence and agreed to change his approach. He was impressed with the new version and thanked me for my suggestion.
Answer 3: Using empathy and rapport
I have experience in using empathy and rapport to convince a customer or colleague to change their approach. Empathy involves understanding the customer’s or colleague’s perspective, feelings, and needs, while rapport involves building trust, respect, and cooperation with them.
For example, when I worked as a customer service representative at a bank, I had to convince a customer who was struggling with debt to enroll in a debt management program. I used empathy by acknowledging his frustration and stress, and expressing my concern and sympathy. I also used rapport by sharing my own experience with debt and how the program helped me overcome it. The customer was convinced by my empathy and rapport and agreed to change his approach. He was grateful for my support and advice.
Answer 4: Using feedback and coaching
I have experience in using feedback and coaching to convince a customer or colleague to change their approach. Feedback involves giving constructive criticism and praise that helps the customer or colleague improve their performance or behavior, while coaching involves providing guidance and direction that helps them achieve their goals or solve their problems.
For example, when I worked as a customer service representative at a hotel, I had to convince a colleague who was rude and impatient with guests to improve his service skills. I used feedback by pointing out his weaknesses and challenges, as well as his strengths and potential. I also used coaching by giving him tips and suggestions on how to communicate effectively, politely, and professionally with guests.
The colleague was convinced by my feedback and coaching and agreed to change his approach. He improved his service skills and received positive feedback from guests.
Answer 5: Using demonstration and modeling
I have experience in using demonstration and modeling to convince a customer or colleague to change their approach. Demonstration involves showing the customer or colleague how to perform a task or use a product or service correctly, while modeling involves setting an example or role model for them to follow or emulate.
For example, when I worked as a customer service representative at a restaurant, I had to convince a customer who was dissatisfied with his order to try a different dish. I used demonstration by bringing him a sample of the dish I recommended and explaining its ingredients and preparation.
I also used modeling by telling him that it was my favorite dish and that I ordered it frequently. The customer was convinced by my demonstration and modeling and agreed to change his approach. He enjoyed the dish and complimented me on my recommendation.
Customer Service Questions about Personal Growth and Teamwork
How well does the candidate play with others?
Question 8: What’s the last skill you learned, and why did you choose it?
Answer 1: Learning a foreign language
The last skill I learned was a foreign language. I chose to learn Spanish because I wanted to communicate better with our Spanish-speaking customers and colleagues. I enrolled in an online course that taught me the basics of grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. I also practiced my speaking and listening skills by watching Spanish movies and podcasts, and joining online chat groups with native speakers. I was able to improve my fluency and confidence in Spanish, and use it to provide better service and support to our customers and colleagues.
Answer 2: Learning a software program
The last skill I learned was a software program. I chose to learn Microsoft Excel because I wanted to enhance my data analysis and reporting skills. I took an online tutorial that taught me how to use various functions, formulas, charts, and macros in Excel. I also practiced my skills by creating and editing spreadsheets for different projects and tasks. I was able to improve my efficiency and accuracy in Excel, and use it to produce better reports and presentations for our customers and colleagues.
Answer 3: Learning a customer service technique
The last skill I learned was a customer service technique. I chose to learn the STAR method because I wanted to improve my problem-solving and communication skills. The STAR method stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result, and it is a way of structuring your responses to customer inquiries or complaints. I read an online article that explained how to use the STAR method effectively. I also practiced my skills by applying the STAR method to various scenarios and situations. I was able to improve my clarity and consistency in customer service, and use it to deliver better solutions and outcomes for our customers.
Answer 4: Learning a soft skill
The last skill I learned was a soft skill. I chose to learn emotional intelligence because I wanted to develop my self-awareness and empathy skills. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. I watched an online video that introduced me to the four components of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. I also practiced my skills by taking an online quiz that assessed my emotional intelligence level and gave me feedback and tips on how to improve it. I was able to improve my emotional intelligence, and use it to build better relationships with our customers and colleagues.
Answer 5: Learning a hobby
The last skill I learned was a hobby. I chose to learn photography because I wanted to express my creativity and capture memorable moments. Photography is the art of creating images by using a camera and light. I bought a digital camera that had various features and settings, such as aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and focus. I also read an online guide that taught me how to use these features and settings effectively. I practiced my skills by taking photos of different subjects and scenes, such as nature, people, animals, and architecture. I was able to improve my photography skills, and use them to create beautiful and meaningful images for myself and others.
Question 9: Tell us about a time when you made a significant contribution to your team.
Answer 1: Leading a project
A time when I made a significant contribution to my team was when I led a project to improve customer satisfaction and retention. I was assigned as the project manager by my supervisor, and I had to coordinate with four other team members from different departments.
I initiated the project by conducting a survey to identify the main issues and concerns of our customers. I then analyzed the survey results and presented them to my team, along with some possible solutions and recommendations. I delegated tasks and responsibilities to each team member, and monitored their progress and performance. I also communicated regularly with my supervisor and other stakeholders, and updated them on the project status and outcomes.
The project was completed on time and within budget, and it resulted in a 25% increase in customer satisfaction and a 15% increase in customer retention.
Answer 2: Resolving a conflict
A time when I made a significant contribution to my team was when I resolved a conflict between two team members who had different opinions on how to handle a customer complaint. The conflict was affecting the team’s morale and productivity, and I decided to intervene as a mediator.
I listened to both sides of the argument, and asked them to clarify their points and perspectives. I then helped them find common ground and mutual understanding, and encouraged them to compromise and collaborate. I also suggested some best practices and tips on how to deal with customer complaints effectively and professionally.
The conflict was resolved peacefully and amicably, and the team was able to work together harmoniously and efficiently.
Answer 3: Sharing a skill
A time when I made a significant contribution to my team was when I shared a skill that I had learned recently. I had taken an online course on how to use a new software program that was relevant for our work. The software program had many features and functions that could enhance our data analysis and reporting capabilities. I offered to teach my team members how to use the software program, and organized a training session for them. I demonstrated how to use the software program step by step, and provided examples and exercises for them to practice. I also answered their questions and doubts, and gave them feedback and suggestions on how to improve their skills. The training session was well-received by my team members, and they were able to use the software program confidently and competently.
Answer 4: Supporting a colleague
A time when I made a significant contribution to my team was when I supported a colleague who was going through a personal crisis. My colleague had lost his father due to an illness, and he was grieving and depressed. He was having difficulties coping with his work responsibilities and deadlines, and he was falling behind on his tasks. I noticed his situation, and reached out to him as a friend. I expressed my sympathy and condolences, and offered him my help and support. I volunteered to take over some of his tasks, and helped him complete his assignments on time. I also checked on him regularly, and listened to him vent his emotions and feelings. I also suggested some resources and services that could help him deal with his grief and stress. He appreciated my support, and he gradually recovered from his crisis.
Answer 5: Suggesting an improvement
A time when I made a significant contribution to my team was when I suggested an improvement that could save time and money for our company. I noticed that our current process of processing customer orders was inefficient and outdated, as it involved manual data entry, paper forms, and multiple steps. I researched some alternative methods that could automate and streamline the process, such as using online forms, barcode scanners, or cloud-based systems. I prepared a proposal that outlined the benefits, costs, risks, and implementation plan of each method. I presented my proposal to my team leader, who approved it and forwarded it to the senior management. The senior management approved my proposal as well, and decided to adopt one of the methods that I suggested. The improvement reduced the processing time by 50%, increased the accuracy by 90%, and saved $10,000 per month for our company.
Question 10: What do you believe makes a good teammate?
Answer 1: Being cooperative and collaborative
I believe that a good teammate is someone who is cooperative and collaborative. This means that they are willing to share their ideas, opinions, and feedback with others, and listen to and respect different perspectives and suggestions. They are also open to compromise and consensus, and work toward a common goal or vision. They do not compete or conflict with other team members, but rather support and complement them.
For example, when I worked on a team project to create a customer satisfaction survey, I cooperated and collaborated with my team members by brainstorming questions, reviewing drafts, and testing the survey. I also gave and received constructive feedback, and incorporated changes that improved the quality and effectiveness of the survey. I was able to contribute to the success of the project, and build a positive and productive relationship with my team members.
Answer 2: Being reliable and responsible
I believe that a good teammate is someone who is reliable and responsible. This means that they are dependable and trustworthy, and they fulfill their duties and obligations on time and with quality. They are also accountable and honest, and they admit their mistakes and learn from them. They do not blame or avoid others, but rather take ownership and initiative.
For example, when I worked on a team project to resolve a customer complaint, I was reliable and responsible by completing my assigned tasks on time and with accuracy. I also communicated regularly with my team members, and updated them on my progress and challenges. I also acknowledged my errors, and corrected them promptly and professionally. I was able to deliver a satisfactory solution to the customer, and earn the respect and trust of my team members.
Answer 3: Being communicative and responsive
I believe that a good teammate is someone who is communicative and responsive. This means that they are clear and concise in their verbal and written communication, and they use appropriate tone and language for different situations and audiences. They are also attentive and receptive, and they respond quickly and politely to messages, calls, or requests. They do not ignore or misunderstand others, but rather clarify and confirm information.
For example, when I worked on a team project to launch a new product, I was communicative and responsive by sending regular updates, reports, and feedback to my team members. I also answered their questions and concerns promptly and courteously. I also verified the accuracy and completeness of the information I received from them. I was able to keep everyone informed and involved in the project, and avoid any confusion or miscommunication.
Answer 4: Being supportive and respectful
I believe that a good teammate is someone who is supportive and respectful. This means that they are helpful and generous, and they offer their assistance or resources to others when needed. They are also appreciative and courteous, and they recognize and acknowledge the contributions and achievements of others. They do not criticize or belittle others, but rather encourage and motivate them.
For example, when I worked on a team project to improve customer service skills, I was supportive and respectful by helping my team members with their training modules, quizzes, and assignments. I also praised their efforts and improvements, and celebrated their successes. I also accepted their feedback graciously, and thanked them for their support. I was able to enhance my own skills as well as theirs, and create a friendly and positive atmosphere in the team.
Answer 5: Being flexible and adaptable
I believe that a good teammate is someone who is flexible and adaptable. This means that they are open-minded and willing to learn new skills or try new methods that can benefit the team or the company. They are also resilient and resourceful, and they cope well with changes or challenges that may arise in the work environment. They do not resist or complain about others, but rather embrace and adjust to different situations and opportunities.
For example, when I worked on a team project to implement a new system that changed the way we processed customer orders, I was flexible and adaptable by learning how to use the new system quickly and efficiently. I also helped my team members who were having difficulties or doubts with the new system, and shared tips and tricks that made it easier and faster. I also adapted to the new workflow and procedures, and followed them correctly and consistently. I was able to transition smoothly to the new system, and improve my performance and productivity.
Here are more interview questions for customer service, along with sample answers: