“Can you give an example of great customer service?”
We all experience customer service on a daily basis, and it’s likely you can recall a time you experienced exceptional service.
What most people don’t realize, however, is there’s a lot more to this question than simply retelling a story. There are a few more important layers to be aware of.
Let’s get into it.
Variations Of This Question
First, you need to be able to identify the different variations of this question because it can be phrased differently from one interview to the next.
These are the usual culprits:
- What makes for great customer service?
- How do you define great customer service?
- What does customer service mean to you?
- How can someone provide great customer service?
- Name a time when you gave great customer service?
- What qualities are required for great customer service?
- What problems can be solved with great customer service?
What The Interviewer Really Wants To Know
Customer service jobs are demanding frontline positions.
This role means you’re the representative of the company that the public deals with, be it in-person, over the phone, or through email.
The interviewer will ask this question to find out if you understand what great customer service means because they want to ensure you’re capable of representing the company’s values.
In particular, they want to see that you can identify the main attributes of great customer service, those being:
- Solving problems, and doing so efficiently and effectively.
- Having a positive and patient attitude, along with a friendly demeanor.
- Setting the right expectations to prevent disappointment.
- Having vast product knowledge and understanding of common paint points.
How to Answer: “Can You Describe An Example Of Great Customer Service?”
When it comes to answering this interview question, your reply needs to have three components.
1. Tell A Story Based On Your Own Experience
To answer this question with maximum effect, tell a story based on your own personal experience with great customer service.
In this story, you should be the employee rather than the customer. This shows the interviewer that you’ve experienced situations in the past that required you to be the provider of great service.
If you’ve never worked at a job that required customer service skills, telling a story of a time when you were the recipient of memorable service is recommended.
It’s better to be truthful than to deceive a potential employer right from the start.
2. Explain Which Attributes Were In Play
After presenting the story, you’ll then identify the attributes that were used to provide such service.
As previously talked about, these attributes are problem-solving, your attitude, your efficiency, and knowing the products. The story may only have one of these, or it could have a few.
3. Reiterate The Importance Of Those Attributes
Finally, solidify why it was important that these attributes were used.
For example, the customer service was great because the employee knew the product inside and out, and that meant the issue was quickly resolved.
Or maybe the customer service was slow and dragged out, but the upbeat and determined attitude of the employee made it a lot less painful to wait through.
Putting It All Together (Example Answers)
The theory behind all this is sound, but knowing how to put it all together into a coherent answer isn’t always as straightforward.
Below are some real examples of how you might approach this interview question.
Example #1: Email Customer Service
“A few years back I worked in customer service for an online t-shirt company. My role was mainly answering emails related to orders.
We got one from a customer that ordered a few shirts and he noticed one of them had a small tear in it. Of course, he wasn’t too happy and expected he would have to ship it back on his own dime, wait until we received it, and then wait for even more for his new shirt to be shipped out.
I started by adopting the right attitude, apologizing to him for the error, as we diligently check our products before shipping them out, and this was 100% our fault.
We told him to keep the shirt, shipped him a replacement immediately (at no extra charge), and also sent a 15% off coupon he could put towards a future order.
To say he was grateful would be an understatement, and was genuinely shocked at how well we handled the situation.
Example #2: Retail Customer Service
“I used to work in a home theatre store. There were plenty of times when customers would come in for help, or ask us to troubleshoot problems over the phone.
I remember an elderly gentleman was having issues getting his remote to work both his TV and cable box.
As this was a pretty common inquiry, I already knew how to fix the issue and within two minutes I had the remote programmed and working the way he wanted.
A lot of seniors with these types of issues felt confused and defeated by technological advancements, so it was imperative for me to not only be patient with them but reassuring as well.
I sat with him and explained the ins and outs of the remote, and told him if he ever needed any help he knew where to find me.
I didn’t charge him a dime, and 10 minutes was all that was needed to ensure he had a memorable customer experience that solved his problem.”
Example #3: Phone Customer Service
“I used to work for a company that provided concierge services to high-level credit card members. No request was too tough for us to accommodate.
One customer called in and wanted us to source a 1-week vacation for him and his family at a private villa in Turks & Caicos. He also required round-the-clock security, daily housekeeping service, and an on-site chef.
While it wasn’t an easy task, we did manage to fulfill his request.
This was done by being professional in our interactions and setting realistic expectations for how long it would take to organize everything. We told him it could take up to 2 weeks, but surprised him by having his trip set up in only 4 days.
We also surprised him by setting up a private guide to help him and his family explore the island.
He called back after his trip to thank us for our hard work and said it was one of the best vacations he and his family ever took.”
How NOT To Answer
When it comes to customer service, sometimes the customer can be in the wrong.
However, you should never tell the interviewer that a customer was difficult, or unreasonable in their demands.
As cliché as it sounds, the customer isn’t the problem, the problem is the problem.
Stay focused on the issue that needs solving.
Of course, some customers will be miserable no matter what, but put yourself in their shoes and use the attributes listed above to solve it as best you can.
- Learn the different variations of this question
- Familiarize yourself with the most likely lead up questions
- Recount a story of a time you gave or received good customer service
- Explain what made it such a pleasant experience (the attributes)
- Clarify the importance of maintaining high customer service standards