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Customer Service RepresentativeInterview Questions

Position Summary

Customer service representatives are an important part of the interaction between a customer and company. They typically answer questions and give information about company products and services. Another large part of their job is to process orders, fulfill customer needs, prepare customer correspondence, and ensure that customers are satisfied with their experience.

Customer service representatives can work in a variety of environments. They are often found in customer contact centers but can also be found online and at physical store locations.

Responsibilities

Customer service representative responsibilities may include:

  • Communicating with customers
  • Processing returns
  • Providing information about services and products
  • Resolving customer complaints
  • Reporting metrics to management and supervisors

Skills

Customers expect quick, professional service. In order to provide a pleasant customer experience, a skilled customer service representative will:

  • Work quickly and efficiently
  • Maintain a professional demeanor 
  • Possess expert knowledge of the products and services their company offers
  • Communicate clearly with customers
  • Input customer data and track orders and returns

Qualifications

Entry-level positions as a customer service representative can be obtained with little to no experience or degree. Employers will want candidates with a pleasant demeanor who can communicate clearly with customers in person and over the phone. Prior experience in customer service can help make a candidate more appealing.

If you’re getting ready to interview for a position as a customer service representative, you can prepare by researching the company as much as possible. Learn about the 9 things you should research before an interview.

Salary

Salaries for customer service representatives range between $32K and $55K with the median being $41K. 

Factors impacting the salary you receive as a customer service representative include:

  • Degrees and Training (high school degree, associate's, bachelor's)
  • Years of Experience
  • Location
  • Reporting Structure (seniority of the management team you report to, number of direct reports such as junior customer service representatives)
  • Level of Performance - exceeding expectations

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Customer Service Representative Interview Questions

Question: Can you describe what you did in your previous customer service roles?

Explanation: This is a general or opening question which the interviewer will ask to get you talking, learn a little bit about your background, and collect some information they can use for subsequent questions.

Example: “As noted in my resume, I have quite a bit of experience in the customer service field. I’ve worked for organizations similar to yours, providing customer service, answering clients' questions, and resolving product issues. In these roles, I’ve dealt with as many as 20 customers per hour and always received a high rating from my supervisors. I enjoy this work and look forward to continuing it with your organization.”


Question: Can you define what good customer service means to you?

Explanation: This is another general question in which the interviewer is trying to determine your perspective on customer service and see if it aligns with their company. An easy way to prepare for this type of question is to carefully study the job posting prior to the interview. Employers will tell you exactly what they are looking for and how they define excellent customer service.

Example: “My definition of great customer service is creating an excellent experience for the customer. What I try to do is deliver an experience which they will talk about to their friends. I do whatever I can to satisfy their requirements in a positive and uplifting manner. At the same time, I recognize I am representing the company and need to ensure that its interest is looked after as well.”


Question: Can you describe an experience when you turned an unhappy customer into a satisfied customer.

Explanation: This is a behavioral question. Since your work as a customer service representative involves interacting with people, you can anticipate that the majority of your interview will involve behavioral questions. The best way to respond to a behavioral question is by using the STAR framework. You describe a Situation, talk about the Task you are trying to complete, discuss the Actions you should take, and then describe the Results you wish to obtain.

Example: “Fortunately during my career, I’ve had many opportunities to turn unhappy customers into satisfied ones. One of the most memorable experiences was when a customer called demanding to be allowed to return their product and threatening to sue the company.  I knew I had to settle them down and resolve their issues quickly. I began by apologizing for their bad experience and asking questions about why they wanted to return the product. It turned out they were frustrated with the instructions provided with the product. I spent time with them describing how to use the product effectively and pointed them to online resources they could use to learn more. I also provided my direct number at work so they could contact me if they had any additional questions or needed assistance. Not only did they decide to keep the product, but they also wrote an email to my supervisor describing how helpful I had been.”


Question: Describe the importance of being able to collaborate with other customer service representatives and teams across a company.

Explanation: This is an operational question. Operational questions address how you go about performing the duties required for your job.  The interviewer is interested in seeing if your previous experience aligns with their functional methods. Operational questions are best answered by describing the steps you take to perform a task.

Example: “Being able to collaborate with my fellow customer service representatives both at our facility and in other divisions is critical. I have learned a great deal from my co-workers by asking them specific questions or observing how they go about doing their job. On occasions when we face a difficult customer service issue, we held team meetings to discuss the best way to handle it. My managers have always encouraged collaborating, and I’m glad they did.”


Question: What steps do you take when you don’t know how to resolve a specific customer issue?

Explanation: This is another operational question in which the interviewer is attempting to discover what you do when a question stumps you. Good customer service representatives know when to seek assistance, and this is the skill the interviewer is trying to learn if you have.

Example: “I’m normally able to resolve most of the customer service issues I encounter. However, on occasion, I run into something new that I’m not familiar with or don’t know how to resolve. I will first consult with one of my peers to see if they’ve encountered this issue before. If they are unable to help, I contact a supervisor to get their advice. If we’re not able to resolve the customer’s issue in a reasonable amount of time, we collect their information and commit to contacting them once we have researched the issue and come up with a solution.”


Question: How do you react to a frustrated customer complaining about a commonly known issue with a company’s product?

Explanation: This operational question seeks to understand how you deal with an insurmountable problem. In this scenario, there is no resolution for the product issue. Your task is to address the customer’s dissatisfaction and present them with a reasonable solution. Many customer service representatives will become frustrated due to known problems with a company’s products. Your answer should demonstrate that despite the bad features, you are willing to continue to work with the customer to drive satisfaction.

Example: “Unfortunately, no product is perfect. I’ve often had to deal with customers who are complaining about known product issues that cannot be resolved. I recognize my task is to move the customer away from their dissatisfaction, despite the product defects. When working on this, I focus on the benefits the product provides, the lack of alternatives, and easy workarounds for the product's defects. Although this is not always successful, it often results in the customer feeling a little better about the product than they did when they originally called.”


Question: What are some of the customer service tools and technologies you have experience working with?

Explanation: This is a technical question, and technical questions address the tools and technology you work with while performing the job for which you are interviewing. Technical questions are best answered directly with little embellishment. The interviewer will ask for additional details and ask follow-up questions if they need more information.

Example: “Since I’ve had several different customer service jobs, I’ve worked with a variety of tools and technologies. The basic tools include a multi-line phone, a cordless headset, and a desktop computer. Customer service software I’ve worked with includes Salesforce, JIRA, and Zendesk.”


Question: Can you tell me about a time you thought you were communicating clearly but were misunderstood by the customer? 

Explanation: This is another behavioral question. You can recognize behavioral questions when the interviewer asks you to tell them about a time or describe a situation. These are giveaways that the interviewer is looking for an answer that fits the STAR framework.

Example: “As a customer service representative, I have to make sure that I’m communicating clearly with the customers and they understand what I am telling them. In my last position, I recall a time when I thought I was getting through to the customer, but they continued to ask me questions about the information I just provided them. It became clear to me that they did not understand what I was saying. I knew I had to change my communication style to get through to them. I did this and walked them through my explanation one more time. This time they clearly understood what I was saying, and we were able to resolve the issue about which they had called. What I learned from this was that I need to adapt my communication style to match the customer in order to be effective in my job.”


Question: Can you tell me about a time when you had to improvise a solution or think on your feet to solve a problem.”

Explanation: You should recognize this as a behavioral question by the phrase “can you tell me about a time.” Make sure to frame your answer using the STAR format. Keep in mind that behavioral questions can be answered by describing a situation encountered in the past or projecting what you would do if you run into this scenario in the future. Ideally, the results will be positive, but if they are negative, describe the lesson you learned from the experience.

Example: “Thinking on your feet is a key skill customer service representatives need to possess. You never know what the customers will say or what situations you will encounter. I recall a time when a customer was describing a situation with a product they had purchased which was unfamiliar to me. I soon realized the customer was calling about a product the company did not sell. I knew I had to help them as best I could without embarrassing them for contacting us by mistake. I asked several questions to determine what product they were calling about. I then located the correct manufacturer and provided the customer with their helpline number. The customer thanked me for my assistance and stated that based on my help, they would consider purchasing my company’s products in the future.”


Question: How do you go about prioritizing the customers in your queue when you’re working with a large number of customer calls?

Explanation: You should recognize this as an operational question. The interviewer is asking you about a situation typically encountered by customer service representatives. They are either interested in whether you perform this task using a process they already use or if you have ideas about how to improve their current operations.

Example: “Prioritizing the calls in my queue is always a challenge. The easiest way is to take the calls in the order they are received. However, this may result in unreasonable waits or urgent customer issues going unresolved. After answering a call, I triage it as quickly as possible to determine how long it will take to resolve the issue. If it’s quick, I handle it immediately and move on to the next call. If it will take some time, I either pass the call off to another representative or collect the caller’s information and commit to calling them back when I have an answer to their question.”


Additional Customer Service Representative Interview Questions

  • Have you ever overrode company policy in favor of good customer service? Can you explain the situation?

  • How would you handle an angry customer?

  • Can you tell me about a time you went above and beyond what was expected to please a customer?

  • How do you feel about the statement that the customer is always right?

  • Can you tell us about a policy you didn’t agree with at your last job?

  • If a customer called and said there was a defect in a product they ordered, how would you handle it?

  • Can you tell me about a time when you made a good impression on a customer? How did you approach the situation?

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