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13 most commonly asked customer service interview questions (and their answers)
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10,000 Teams use Hiver to Delight Customers

13 most commonly asked customer service interview questions (and their answers)

Sep 08, 2023
11 min read
Hiver HQ

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Picture this: You’re sitting in a dimly lit room, nerves tingling, palms slightly sweaty, imagining the type of customer service interview questions that would be thrown at you. You’re not here for just any job interview; you’re here to prove you’ve got what it takes to be a great customer service representative. But what does it really mean to excel in a customer service job?

Exceptional customer service professionals possess a unique blend of skills: they’re empathetic listeners, expert problem solvers, possess effective communication skills, and masters of the art of patience. They can turn irate customers into satisfied ones with a few well-chosen words. 

But here’s the catch: Interviews are your stage, the place where you either shine or fade into the background. And what makes interviews truly powerful is being thoroughly prepared for the customer service interview questions that the interviewers will throw at you.

In this blog, we’re not just discussing interviews; we’re focusing on you, the interviewee, and how you can navigate this process to grab that offer letter. Let’s explore the top customer service interview questions that can help you showcase your exceptional qualities. 

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13 Most Frequently Asked Customer Service Interview Questions

We’ve rounded up the 13 most frequently asked customer service job interview questions you’re likely to encounter. From handling irate customers to juggling multiple tasks, these questions cover the A to Z of what you’ll face in the hot seat. So, let’s dive in and get you prepped for success.

Customer Service Interview Question 1:

Tell us about your previous experience in customer service.

Sample Answer:

Customer service has been a big part of my career, and I’ve been fortunate to gain experience in various roles. I started out as a customer service rep in a call center, where I learned the basics—answering calls, resolving issues, and really listening to what the customer needs. It was a great foundation, and it taught me the importance of patience and empathy in delivering great customer service experience.

After a couple of years, I was promoted to team lead. This role added a new layer of responsibility, as I was now overseeing a team. It wasn’t just about interacting with customers anymore; it was also about guiding my team to do the same. I learned a lot about management and how to keep a team motivated.

Most recently, in my last job, I’ve worked in customer success at a SaaS company. This previous role is a bit different because it’s not just about solving immediate problems. It’s about understanding the customer’s long-term goals and helping them succeed with our product. It’s been a rewarding experience, and it’s taught me how interconnected customer service is with other parts of a business.

So, all in all, I’ve had a pretty comprehensive journey through the customer service landscape, and I’m eager to bring that experience into my next role.

Why This Answer Works

The example answer stands out not just for its content but also for how it’s presented. It outlines a career path from entry-level to more advanced roles, showcasing skill and dedication. It touches on key skills like patience, empathy, and managerial abilities that a person applying for a role in a customer service position needs.

The answer also highlights adaptability across different roles and the value of teamwork through interdepartmental collaboration. It highlights that you know the importance of long-term customer relationships, particularly in SaaS, and that you have enthusiasm for future roles.

Customer Service Interview Question 2:

How do you handle difficult or angry customers?

Sample Answer:

Handling difficult or annoyed customers is definitely a challenging part of the job, but it’s also an opportunity to turn things around. The first thing I do is listen to the customer’s problem. I let the customer vent and get everything off their chest. It’s important for them to feel heard.

After they’ve spoken, I express empathy. I’ll say something like, “I’m really sorry you’re experiencing this issue. I can understand why you’re frustrated.” Acknowledging their feelings can go a long way in diffusing the situation.

Then, I move on to finding a solution to the customer complaint. I outline the steps we can take to resolve the issue, making sure to be as transparent as possible. If it’s something that can’t be fixed immediately, I set clear expectations about what will happen next.

And once the issue is resolved, I make it a point to follow up. A simple message to confirm that everything is okay can make a big difference in how the customer views their overall experience.

So, in essence, good customer service is all about active listening, showing empathy, and taking clear steps to resolve the issue. And, of course, following up to make sure everything is sorted out.

Why This Answer Works

The example answer for dealing with difficult customers effectively blends problem-solving with emotional intelligence. It starts by emphasizing active listening to genuinely understand the customer’s issue. Such behavioral interview questions also focus on empathy to de-escalate difficult situations, transparency to build trust, and sets clear expectations for resolution. 

The answer concludes by stressing the importance of follow-ups, showing a commitment to excellent customer service.

Customer Service Interview Question 3:

How do you prioritize and manage multiple customer requests simultaneously?

Sample Answer:

So, when it comes to managing multiple requests, I’ve found that taking a systematic approach is your best friend. First off, I categorize the requests. Are they urgent? Do they require a simple or complex solution? This helps me get a quick lay of the land.

Once I’ve got my categories, I tackle the urgent issues first. These are usually the ones that are time-sensitive or could escalate if not addressed promptly. 

For the less urgent tasks, I use a first-in, first-out approach i.e. when customer queries or issues come in, they’re addressed in the order they were received. I would deviate from this approach only when I have to prioritize urgent issues.

Now, multitasking is a bit of a myth, but task-switching is real. If I’m waiting on information for one case, I’ll switch to another that I can make progress on.

And let’s not forget about communication. If something’s going to take longer than expected, I make sure to keep the customer in the loop. A quick update can go a long way in keeping someone’s frustration at bay.

So, it’s about categorizing, prioritizing, and staying nimble. And, of course, keeping the lines of communication open.

Why This Answer Works

Your approach to managing multiple customer service requests is rooted in practicality and efficiency. You categorize issues based on urgency and complexity, allowing you to prioritize tasks effectively. You also recognize the limitations of multitasking and opt for task-switching to keep things moving. Most importantly, you understand the value of communication in managing customer expectations. This shows a well-rounded, thoughtful approach to customer service that doesn’t necessarily rely on tech but gets the job done effectively.

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Customer Service Interview Question 4:

What strategies do you use to ensure customer satisfaction?

Sample Answer:

Ensuring customer satisfaction is a multi-faceted task, and over the years, I’ve found that a blend of different strategies works best. One thing I swear by is proactive support. Instead of waiting for issues to arise, I anticipate common problems and address them before the customer notices. This could be as simple as sending out a tutorial video when a new feature is launched.

Another strategy is segmentation. Not all customers are the same, so I use data to segment them based on their behavior or needs. This allows for more personalized service, whether targeted follow-ups or customized solutions.

I’m also a big fan of using technology to enhance the customer experience. Chatbots for quick queries, CRM systems to keep track of customer history, and automated surveys post-interaction are all tools that help me stay on top of things.

Time-bound resolutions are another focus area. I always give customers a clear timeframe to expect their issue to be resolved. And then, of course, I make sure to meet or beat that deadline.

Lastly, I believe in the power of a ‘surprise and delight’ strategy. Occasionally going above and beyond what’s expected can turn a satisfied customer into a brand advocate. This could be anything from a small discount on their next purchase to a handwritten thank-you note.

Why This Answer Works

The example answer for ensuring customer satisfaction offers a well-rounded approach that goes beyond basic customer service skills. It starts with proactive support, indicating a preventive and mature approach. It also highlights strategic planning through customer segmentation and shows tech-savviness by embracing modern tools like chatbots and CRM systems. 

Recruiters also look for your ability to resolve issues within set timeframes, showing responsibility and respect for the customer’s time. It concludes by introducing a ‘surprise and delight’ strategy, aiming to elevate customer satisfaction to brand advocacy.

Customer Service Interview Question 5:

Give an example of a time when you went above and beyond to help a customer.

Sample Answer:

There was this one situation where a customer was trying to meet a tight deadline using our software, but they hit a roadblock. They called in, clearly stressed, and explained that they were working on a project that was due the next day. The issue they were facing was complex and not something that could be resolved with a quick fix.

Instead of sending them off with a ticket number and a promise to look into it, I decided to take immediate action. I pulled in a colleague from the technical team, and we initiated a three-way call with the customer. We spent about an hour troubleshooting, testing different solutions, and finally resolved the issue.

But I didn’t stop there. I knew they were crunched for time, so I offered some tips and shortcuts within the software to help them meet their deadline faster. I checked in with them the next day, and not only had they met their deadline, but they were also incredibly thankful for the extra help.

Sure, it was a bit of a time investment, but the customer’s relief and gratitude made it more than worthwhile.

Why This Answer Works

The example answer excels in showing a proactive and committed approach to customer service. It starts with immediate action, indicating a sense of urgency to resolve issues. It also highlights the value of team collaboration by involving someone from the technical team and demonstrating cross-functional problem-solving. 

The answer also shows hiring managers your willingness to invest time in troubleshooting, indicating a focus on genuinely resolving the issue rather than just closing a ticket. It goes the extra mile when highlighting the fact that the customer service rep offered additional support through tips and shortcuts.

Finally, it wraps up with a follow-up, reinforcing a lasting commitment to the customer’s needs.

Customer Service Interview Question 6:

How do you handle a situation where you are unable to resolve a customer’s issue immediately?

Sample Answer:

The first thing I do is own up to it. I’ll say something like, “I understand this is frustrating for you, and I apologize for the inconvenience. I’m unable to resolve this immediately, but here’s what we can do next.”

Transparency is key. I’ll let the customer know why the issue can’t be resolved right away and what steps I’m taking to get it sorted. If it involves another department or needs escalation, I make that clear.

Then, I set expectations. I give them a realistic timeframe for when they can expect a resolution or at least an update. The worst thing you can do is leave someone in the dark, wondering what’s going on.

I also make sure to document everything meticulously. This way, if another team member needs to step in, they have all the information they need to pick up where I left off.

And of course, I follow up with an email or call them. Whether it’s resolved or still in progress, a quick update can go a long way in maintaining the customer’s trust.

So, in short, it’s about being transparent, setting clear expectations, documenting the issue, and following up. It’s not ideal, but handling it this way tends to make the best out of a challenging situation.

Why This Answer Works

The example answer effectively tackles the common customer service interview question about handling unresolved customer issues. It highlights the need for transparency and clear communication, which are key for maintaining customer trust and managing expectations. 

It also mentions setting realistic timeframes and mentions the need for detailed documentation. The answer wraps up by emphasizing the need for follow-up, showing a commitment to complete issue resolution.

Customer Service Interview Question 7:

Describe a time when you dealt with a challenging coworker or team member.

Sample Answer:

I remember one instance where I was paired with a team member who had a very different communication style than mine. They were quite direct and sometimes came across as abrasive, which initially created some tension.

Instead of letting it escalate, I decided to have a one-on-one conversation with them. I approached it delicately, saying something like, “Hey, I’ve noticed we have different ways of communicating, and I think it’s causing some misunderstandings. How can we work better together?”

To my surprise, they were open to the discussion. We both acknowledged our differences and agreed to make an effort to adapt our communication styles when working together. I also made it a point to focus on their strengths and how they contributed to the team, which helped me see the value they brought, despite our differences.

From then on, things improved significantly. We weren’t best friends, but we found a way to collaborate effectively, and that’s what mattered. It was a learning experience for sure, but it taught me the importance of open communication and focusing on common goals when dealing with challenging team dynamics.

Why This Answer Works

The example answer effectively addresses the often-asked customer service interview question about dealing with challenging coworkers. 

It starts with open communication and diplomacy, showing emotional intelligence and a proactive approach to conflict resolution. The answer also emphasizes focusing on common goals and adaptability, key for maintaining team harmony. It concludes by highlighting a positive outcome, indicating that the approach was successful in creating a better work environment.

Customer Service Interview Question 8:

How do you stay updated on product knowledge and company policies?

Sample Answer

Staying updated is crucial, especially in customer support where you’re the frontline for customer queries. So, I have a few strategies to keep myself in the loop. First off, I make it a point to attend all product training sessions and team meetings. These are usually goldmines for updates on new features or policy changes.

I also subscribe to internal newsletters and regularly check our internal knowledge base. It’s surprising how much you can learn just by keeping an eye on those resources.

Another thing I do is maintain a good relationship with folks in other departments like product development and marketing. They often have insights into upcoming changes before they’re officially announced, so it’s a good way to stay ahead of the curve.

And let’s not forget the power of peer learning. I often find that my teammates are a great resource for quick updates or clarifications. If someone learns something new, we make it a point to share it with the team.

Why This Answer Works

The example answer effectively addresses one of the most commonly asked interview questions: about dealing with challenging coworkers. It starts with open communication and diplomacy, showing emotional intelligence and a proactive approach to conflict resolution. The answer also emphasizes focusing on common goals and adaptability, key for maintaining team harmony.

Customer Service Interview Question 9:

Tell us about a time when you successfully upsold or cross-sold a product or service.

Sample Answer:

I recall a specific instance where I was helping a customer troubleshoot an issue with their basic software package. As we went through the steps to resolve it, I noticed they were using several workarounds that our premium package could easily solve.

I gently brought it up, saying, “I see you’re doing X and Y to achieve Z. Our premium package has features that could simplify this for you.” I made sure to tailor the conversation to their specific needs rather than giving a generic sales pitch.

The customer had questions about the cost, so I was transparent about the pricing and explained the value they’d receive, like time-saving features that could benefit them in the long run.

In the end, they opted for the upgrade. During our follow-up conversation, they even thanked me, saying the premium features had made their tasks much easier.

So, upselling and cross-selling are about identifying the customer’s needs and offering solutions that genuinely add value to their experience.

Why This Answer Works

In customer support interviews, you’re likely to be asked about your ability to upsell or cross-sell, as it’s a soft skill that benefits both the company and the customer. 

The example answer effectively tackles this by focusing on the customer’s specific needs and offering a tailored solution. It demonstrates a consultative approach, transparency about pricing, and a focus on adding value to the customer’s experience. The successful upgrade and the customer’s positive feedback in the follow-up conversation validate the approach taken.

Recommended Reads:
Write Awesome Customer Service Emails: Best Practices + Templates
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20 Phrases You Should Never Use in an Email

Customer Service Interview Question 10:

How do you handle confidential customer information?

Sample Answer:

Handling confidential customer information is a huge responsibility, and I take it very seriously. First and foremost, I always adhere to the company’s privacy policy and any relevant laws or regulations. I make sure to only access customer information when it’s absolutely necessary for resolving their issues.

When I’m working remotely, I use a secure VPN to ensure that the data I’m accessing is protected. I also make sure to log out of all systems and secure my workspace when I step away, even if it’s just for a moment.

If I need to discuss a customer’s situation with a colleague, I avoid using names or other identifying details unless it’s crucial for resolving the issue. And, of course, those conversations happen in private settings where we can’t be overheard.

Why This Answer Works

During customer service interviews, handling confidential customer information is a critical topic that’s almost certain to come up. This customer service interview question tests your understanding of privacy policies and your commitment to customer trust. 

The example answer effectively addresses this topic by emphasizing adherence to company policies and legal regulations, secure practices like using a VPN, and discretion in conversations with colleagues. It wraps up by focusing on the importance of earning and maintaining customer trust, which is the cornerstone of any customer service role.

Customer Service Interview Question 11:

Describe your approach to handling repetitive or monotonous tasks.

Sample Answer:

Repetitive tasks are part and parcel of customer support, but they offer an opportunity for efficiency. I always start by breaking these tasks down into smaller, more manageable chunks and prioritizing them.

Automating responses to common questions has been a real turning point for me. I set up automated emails to handle these queries, which not only saves me time for tackling more complicated issues but also provides customers with immediate, consistent answers.

Another efficiency booster has been the use of email templates for FAQs. It’s a simple yet effective way to speed up my response time, allowing me to focus on more complex customer needs.

I also make good use of our knowledge base. It’s a great resource for ensuring that the information I provide is accurate and consistent, especially when dealing with repetitive queries.

And let’s not forget the power of a quick break. A brief walk or even a few deep breaths can help me reset and tackle the next task with renewed energy.

In the end, it’s all about being efficient without sacrificing quality.

Why This Answer Works

When you’re interviewing for a customer support role, you’re likely to be asked how you manage repetitive or monotonous tasks. 

The example answer effectively addresses this by focusing on efficiency and time management. It talks about automating responses and using email templates to handle common queries quickly, freeing up time for more complex issues.

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Customer Service Interview Question 12:

Have you ever dealt with a language barrier while assisting a customer? How did you overcome it?

Sample Answer:

Language barriers can definitely make customer support a bit more challenging, but they’re not insurmountable. I remember assisting a customer who spoke very limited English. We were both struggling to understand each other, and I could sense their frustration building up.

My first step was to slow down and speak clearly, avoiding any jargon or technical terms. I also used simple phrases and repeated key points to make sure we were on the same page.

When that wasn’t enough, I turned to our translation tool. It wasn’t perfect, but it helped bridge the gap somewhat. I also used visual aids like screenshots and arrows to guide the customer through the process.

It took a bit longer than usual, but we managed to resolve the issue. The customer was grateful, and honestly, so was I. It was a good reminder that patience and creativity can go a long way in overcoming communication barriers.

Why This Answer Works

In customer service interviews, the question of dealing with language barriers is likely to come up as it tests your adaptability and problem-solving skills. 

The example answer effectively addresses this by focusing on clear communication, the use of translation tools, and visual aids. It emphasizes patience and creativity as key factors in overcoming such challenges, ultimately leading to a satisfied customer.

Customer Service Interview Question 13:

In your opinion, what is the most important quality for providing exceptional customer service?

Sample Answer:

If I had to pick just one quality, I’d say it’s empathy. Technical skills and product knowledge are super important, but at the end of the day, customers want to feel heard and understood.

When you can put yourself in the customer’s shoes, you’re not just solving a problem; you’re providing an experience. 

Empathy allows you to tailor your approach to each customer’s unique needs, and it helps you communicate more effectively. It’s like the secret sauce that makes all the other ingredients in customer service come together.

So yeah, for me, empathy is the cornerstone of exceptional customer service.

And there you have it—some of the most common yet challenging customer support interview questions, along with tailored answers to help you shine. 

Remember, the key to acing these questions isn’t just about rehearsing the right words; it’s about understanding the principles behind exceptional customer service. Whether it’s empathy, efficiency, or adaptability, each customer service interview question offers you a chance to showcase the qualities that make you an outstanding customer support executive.

So, go ahead and personalize these answers, make them your own, and walk into that interview room with confidence. You’ve got this!

Shobhana has been recognized as a 'Top Customer Support Voice' by LinkedIn. Her expertise lies in creating well-researched and actionable content for Customer Experience (CX) professionals. As an active member of popular CX communities such as CX Accelerator and Support Driven, she helps professionals evaluate tools for their support team and keeps a keen eye on emerging industry trends.

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