Top 20 Customer Service Interview Questions and Answers for 2023
All products and services featured are independently selected by WikiJob. When you register or purchase through links on this page, we may earn a commission.
- What Do Employers Look for in a Good Customer Service Representative in 2023?
- Top 20 Customer Service Representative Interview Questions (and Sample Answers) for 2023
- Final Thoughts
Customer service is the act of ensuring a satisfactory customer experience pre, during and post-purchase of a product or service.
On a day-to-day basis, you’ll act as a company representative, taking orders or inquiries, handling queries and complaints, solving problems and providing information, alongside administrative tasks like record keeping.
You may work in a customer contact center, in a face-to-face setting or interact with customers via a live chat function.
Customer service representatives are employed across many industries, so job opportunities in this profession are both plentiful and diverse.
As a customer service position is such a broad role, a good candidate for a customer service post will demonstrate a wide variety of customer service skills and competencies.
Things hiring managers look for include:
- People skills – The ability to empathize, build relationships and connect with people from all walks of life.
- Good communication – You’ll need strong language skills and be able to converse clearly and professionally in both a verbal and written context.
- Creativity – Employers look for those that think on their feet and take an imaginative approach to problem-solving.
- A positive attitude – Strong candidates are those that don’t get bogged down by negativity and are calm and resilient under pressure, as well as being incredibly patient.
- Willingness to learn – You’ll need to show a commitment to ongoing development, keeping up to date with the latest on your company’s products or services.
- Teamworking skills – Customer service is not a solo operation. It takes effective collaboration, and employers are looking for strong team players.
So, you’ve nailed your customer service cover letter and have been invited to the next stage of recruitment: the interview.
Now it’s time to review some customer service job interview questions and answers and wow the hiring team in person.
Questions will largely revolve around the skills we’ve just covered, so keep these in mind throughout your interview preparation.
It is also a great idea to make sure you are familiar with the job description (found in the job posting) to ensure you choose examples that are a really close fit to the employer's ethos and approach to customer service.
Below are 20 common customer service interview questions, each with a sample answer you can use for inspiration when constructing your own.
Customer service questions are often behavioral interview questions. In other words, they will be asking you questions that require you to use your past behavior as evidence.
In many cases, we recommend using the STAR method, giving a concise answer with a situation, task, action and result.
As one of the most asked customer service interview questions, your answer here should show employers not only what you understand about the role, but also what makes you passionate about it.
The interviewer is looking to establish what you take your responsibilities to be and why those responsibilities are of interest to you.
Your response should show:
- A customer-first perspective
- Strong communication skills
- A commitment to problem resolution
- Passion for the profession
For me, excellent customer service is about making connections through effective communication. There’s no one-size-fits-all. Every customer is unique, and I find it incredibly rewarding when an issue is resolved in a way that makes them feel valued and understood.
It’s not always easy, but it’s my responsibility to ensure every customer is heard, and even the most challenging of situations are handled to the best of my ability.
In asking this question, the interviewer is looking at your problem-solving skills.
These are skills you’ll use every day, but in certain circumstances, they’ll really be put to the test, especially when the customer in question is angry coming into the conversation.
The situation you describe might not have been completely resolved by you alone, but your answer should focus on your ability to connect with the customer, the measures you took to resolve the issue and any further escalation, where appropriate.
Key traits to demonstrate here include:
- Effective listening
- Empathy and patience
- An ability to stay calm under pressure
- A willingness to take ownership of a situation
- A willingness to follow up, if appropriate
Working in customer service for a home appliance retailer, I received a call from what seemed to be a very irate customer. The customer’s problem was twofold. Delivery of her washing machine had been moved from the date initially booked, and when it did arrive, the item was damaged.
In listening to her complaint and trying to understand the customer’s needs, I discovered she was a new mother and it was clear that her anger was actually distress. I took an empathetic approach to her situation, established that the damage was cosmetic and advised her that she was fine to use the appliance whilst I processed an exchange with priority delivery free of charge.
I then explained that we outsource delivery and that the switching of dates was completely unacceptable. I thanked her for bringing it to my attention and assured her it was an issue I’d be taking to management so they could further investigate.
By the end of the call, the customer was much more relaxed and apologized for her initial outburst. It was a great result.
In asking you this, the interviewer is assessing your integrity. A good customer service rep never tries to bluff their way through a situation. They take an honest approach, relying on the support and resources around them to source the correct answer to a challenging question.
Show you’re comfortable with asking for help and that your focus is to always provide the correct information. You also need to demonstrate how you’d inform the customer of your uncertainty without aggravating the situation.
Form your response around the key traits of:
- Problem solving
I’d be honest with them. I’d tell them it was a question I’d never come across before and that I wouldn’t want to give them inaccurate information. Depending on the circumstances, I’d either pass them on to a relevant member of my team or get back to them ASAP with an answer.
When this happens, I keep a log, so I’m prepared to handle questions if they crop up again. This also helps me support my coworkers should they ever encounter the same problem.
As far as customer service interview questions go, this has perhaps the most obvious intent. The interviewer is looking for someone willing to go above and beyond the call of duty.
A standout candidate will have a strong example of when they’ve performed beyond expectation, one that demonstrates a commitment to career development by raising the bar.
The best answers will be those that show:
- Exemplary standards of service
In my last job I worked for a SaaS company that provides software for remote collaboration. I had a customer call who wasn’t used to working remotely and was struggling to understand the basics. I talked them through what they needed to know to get on with their day, but it was clear this was going to be an issue for them moving forward.
After the call, I realized there was more I could do, so I contacted them and asked if they’d be interested in a virtual training session. They took me up on the offer, so I set to work writing a training plan specifically for their needs.
I delivered the session the following week, not only to the customer in question but to three other members of their team. They’ve since fed back, and it was a pleasure to hear how well they’re all doing.
Teamwork is an essential part of good customer service. A company’s reputation is built through a collaborative effort, and the interviewer will want to know that you’re prepared to do your bit.
It’s important to show you understand your role is only one part of the process and that great customer service involves constant development across the entire business. For that to happen, teamwork is paramount.
Beyond your teamworking skills, also focus on:
- Your investment in company goals
- A willingness to pitch in wherever needed
- Collaboration across different departments
In my previous role there were multiple departments that relied on customer feedback to make improvements, from product development to fulfillment and delivery.
As part of the customer-facing team, it was our job to ensure that all customer issues were resolved but also eliminated. I suggested that we should have weekly meetings to discuss what issues we’d all faced and, where necessary, pass this information to the relevant department. We’d also share ideas on more effective ways to approach these problems until they were ironed out.
It was a great system that led to constant innovation and a business reputation we were all proud to uphold.
The purpose of this question is quite clear. It’s about uncovering what personal attributes you consider yourself to have that are fitting for the role, and why.
There are many qualities you could mention here, most of which fall under the umbrella of soft skills, such as:
- Critical thinking
The key is to not reel off a list of qualities but to also put them into context.
First and foremost, I’m a people person. I thrive on personal interaction, and there’s no other role that provides this more than customer service.
I also have a very empathetic nature. I’m very attuned to people’s emotions and can tailor my behavior appropriately.
Of course, customer service isn’t just about your ability to connect. You also need to think on your feet and get creative in terms of problem-solving.
These are skills I’ve developed throughout my career and apply to every new challenge that comes along.
As we’ve already mentioned, your role exists within a wider context. Employers are looking for candidates that not only meet and exceed expectations but who can also quantify their achievements and show how they contribute to company objectives.
This is all about your results orientation. In other words, what you see as important, how you achieve it and how it is evidenced in action.
As a basic answer, success in your role would be a happy customer. It’s OK to state this but try and think a little deeper.
You could make mention of:
- Customer acquisition and retention
- Company reputation
- Sales figures
Customer service encompasses so many things that success can be hard to quantify.
On a personal level, it’s knowing I’ve connected with everyone I’ve had an interaction with.
In a business context, I’d measure success through reputation and revenue. If I’m doing my job well, both should increase. We should be seeing good reviews, more repeat sales, more referrals and of course, more turnover.
It’s important for me to understand the data relating to this. It’s the only way I can truly measure the success of my efforts.
Don’t fall into a description here of how you handled a difficult situation. It’s not what this question is about.
What the interviewer is looking for is an indication that you’re someone able to cope under pressure and that you won’t break down or fight back, even when treated badly.
Unfortunately, this is one of the major downsides of a career in customer service, and whilst it won’t be a daily occurrence, at times, you will become the target of heightened customer frustration.
It’s important to acknowledge this in your response and show you have interpersonal skills like self-confidence that allow you to take it in your stride whilst maintaining excellent standards of service.
Be sure to demonstrate:
- A positive mindset
It’s one of the most challenging aspects of the role but I find the best way to stay motivated is to remember that it’s not a personal attack and to put yourself in the customer’s position.
When you look at it from that point of view, it gives you the drive to provide the level of service you’d expect under the circumstances. If I’m having a tough day, I’ll find a quiet spot for a short break and remind myself how much enjoyment I take from customer service at its best.
Every job has its challenges but, for me, that makes the rewards (ultimately seeing customer satisfaction) so much greater.
9. What Would You Do if a Frustrated Customer Complained About a Well-Known Flaw With a Company Product?
For a customer service rep, this is one of the most challenging situations. Fixing the problem is out of your control, but you still have to find an appropriate resolution.
Employers know how difficult this can be and are looking for candidates that can rise to the challenge and apply patience, creative problem-solving and key decision-making skills to ensure brand reputation is not damaged and the customer gets a satisfactory result.
Firstly, it’s important to let the customer vent their frustrations without interruption. And in response, it’s vital to take ownership. The flaw itself may not be mine to fix, but as a representative of the responsible company, I need to show that we’re not shying away from the issue.
To find the best resolution, I’d consider the circumstances, and then weigh up any actions I could take along with their potential consequences for both the customer and the business.
Whatever the outcome, be it a refund, exchange or repair, I’d assure them that it’s an issue of the highest importance and we were taking every step possible to fix the flaw.
Customer service interview questions aren’t always about your skills and experience. Sometimes they focus on your motivations.
This question in particular gives employers insight into what attracted you to the company and why you want to work for them over anybody else. It also shows whether you’ve been motivated enough to do your research.
Before your interview, learn all you can about the company, from its core values and corporate culture, to details on its products or services.
If you have personal experience and can talk about this firsthand, all the better.
I first became aware of your company three years ago when I switched insurance providers. I took out a policy and was delighted, not just with the cost but with the personalized support I received.
I’ve followed you on social media ever since and I love how much effort you put into building relationships with customers. I think that’s crucial these days. People want to know they’re dealing with human beings. It’s what attracted me to you as both an insurance provider and an employer.
To provide good customer service, you will need to be able to identify what this looks like. This is why employers who are recruiting for customer service style roles will ask for examples of times when you have experienced above-average service.
I went on holiday a few years ago and the customer service was amazing. The hotel staff couldn’t do enough to help and honestly made me feel like nothing was an inconvenience.
I took my daughter with me when she was a baby and I was quite worried about what the experience of traveling with a small child would be like. The hotel staff noted that there was a baby on my reservation and put together a special little welcome basket for her.
As with asking questions regarding good customer experiences you may have, potential employers will also commonly ask about negative experiences.
They will want to know that you can identify good and bad experiences to be able to provide positive customer service to customers you may meet in your working day.
When asking about bad experiences, they may also be looking to see that you understand how the situation could have been avoided or resolved.
I don’t know whether the person I spoke to was just having a bad day or whether there was some other issue, but I had a situation once when I tried to phone my bank about my home insurance renewal.
The statement I’d been sent said that my payments would be going up, but I had never claimed from my policy and nothing about the circumstances was changing, so I phoned them to see whether I could have the price reduced.
The first person I spoke to wasn’t very keen to help, they were quite grumpy about my request and simply suggested looking elsewhere for a new policy. I phoned back on another day and was able to reduce the payments on my renewal.
There may be times when strong accents, disabilities or environmental factors may make it difficult to understand what the customer is saying.
An example of this would be if you were applying for a job in a busy bar that has live music. The volume of the music can make it challenging to understand what is being said to you.
Potential employers will want to know that you can take appropriate steps to understand the customer and fulfill their request.
Usually, if I’m not sure what someone is saying, I will start by asking them to repeat it. If I am still unsure, I will ask a colleague if they can help.
When I have had customers in the past where language has been a barrier, I have made use of tools such as translation devices or asking for help from colleagues who speak additional languages to make sure that I am giving the best possible service to the customer.
I never want the customer to feel uncomfortable so do my very best to help and reasure them.
No matter how much you want to, sometimes it just isn’t possible to achieve what a customer wants.
This could be for several reasons, such as being against company policy, products being unavailable or simply that it is something you are unable to do.
Being able to say 'no' in a way that still leaves the customer relatively satisfied is a key skill when it comes to working in a customer service role.
Your potential employer will want to know that you can handle the situation in a considerate way that keeps all parties happy.
I have had times where I haven’t been able to give a customer what they wanted, even when I really wanted to. One of the times which comes to mind was when I was working in a clothing shop.
I had an elderly customer come in one day and she was looking for a very particular shirt that we used to sell because it was her husband's favorite. Unfortunately, we no longer sold the shirt.
I checked the stock room and phoned the warehouse to see if anyone had one hiding somewhere, but there weren’t any to be found.
I had to tell her that I had tried everything that I could, but I was unable to give her the product she wanted. I suggested alternative options which were similar and also said that it might be possible to find second-hand shirts on the internet, but there was nothing else I could do.
I felt bad, but the customer knew I had tried everything that I could rather than just saying 'no' straight away once I knew it was a discontinued item.
15. What Communication Methods Do You Think Are the Most Important When Undertaking Customer Service, and Why?
There are many different methods of communicating. Some will be more useful and appropriate in customer service situations than others.
Potential employers will want to know that you can identify the best ways of communicating with customers.
I would say that listening is one of the most important things when it comes to communicating with customers. You can speak clearly and eloquently, but if you don’t also listen to what a customer is saying you will still find that situations won’t always have the outcomes that they should.
By making sure to really listen to others, you can identify the root cause of an issue and often it will help you to find the solutions which really work.
16. Have You Ever Collaborated With Other Customer Service Team Members to Solve a Customer Complaint?
Collaboration with team members will quite often go hand-in-hand with a customer service role.
If there is an issue or question which you cannot resolve on your own, then this will usually mean asking for advice or involvement from others that you work with.
When an interviewer asks this type of question, they will be looking to see that you understand when it is appropriate or necessary to collaborate with others and the steps which should be taken.
Yes, I often work with others if I can’t solve a problem by myself. For example, when a customer brings a product back that they aren’t happy with and they don’t want to switch it for an alternative, I will sometimes have to ask more senior members of staff for insight as to the best course of action.
This is especially true if they want a refund as this has to be processed by someone with more authority than myself.
Individuals who work in customer service will often do so because they feel a sense of achievement and reward when a customer leaves happily with the product or service that they need.
People in these roles are usually passionate individuals who are dedicated to providing the best possible service to their customers.
Potential employers will be looking to learn what it is that candidates enjoy about this type of role.
I think I would have to say that I like the variety in the role. Each day when I go to work, I never know exactly what will happen.
I might have customers who I see regularly and some of the processes may be similar, but it is impossible to predict what will happen. That variety is what keeps working in customer service exciting and interesting for me.
The challenges that I might face can be difficult at times, but they are never boring.
Working within customer service, there may be times when you need to control your own emotions to provide the best possible service.
It could be that an angry customer is trying to get an angry reaction from you, or perhaps a customer has a particularly sad story that makes it difficult for you to tell them that you are unable to help.
Whatever the situation, it is vital for you to be able to control your emotions to maintain a professional attitude.
When potential employers ask this type of question, they will be looking to see that you can be professional no matter what situation you may find yourself managing.
It can be difficult at times to not get upset when a customer is particularly emotional, especially if they are being angry or argumentative.
I usually try to remind myself that it probably isn’t me that they are angry with, they are angry with the situation that they have found themselves in. If I get angry or emotional myself then it will probably just make things worse.
I try to remain calm and help them as much as I possibly can. Then, once the situation is over, I might take five minutes in the break area to take a deep breath before talking to the next customer, although this isn't always necessary.
Nobody can ever be perfect at every aspect of their job. There will be areas in which they are stronger and others that could perhaps benefit from some improvement.
I would probably say that one of my biggest strengths is that I am helpful. I like helping people and I will always try to find a solution to a problem if I can.
However, this is a bit of a double-edged sword and can also be a bit of a weakness. Sometimes I can end up giving more advice or information than the customer really wants or needs, so I have to be very aware of what I am saying and try to keep things short but factual.
Employers know that nobody is perfect and mistakes will happen. But, employees need to know how to accept responsibility for their mistakes and how to resolve issues when they occur.
This is what an interviewer is looking for when they ask this type of question during an interview.
In my very first customer service job at a call center, I told a customer incorrect information regarding a product. I had gotten mixed up with a similar product and made the mistake of telling the customer that it had some features which were only found on the similar, but more expensive, option.
Luckily I realized this before the customer bought the product and I was able to correct the information that I had given them.
They chose to buy the product I had recommended initially, even though it didn’t have all of the features I had said. I did learn my lesson though and since that day I have always made sure to double-check the products I am talking about before recommending them.
The above list of customer service interview questions and answers is not exhaustive, and there are many others you may face.
Every company will have specific criteria by which they measure candidates, but in preparing answers to the most common questions, you’ll have a good bank of examples to draw on.
It’s also a good idea to prepare for some of the more generic commonly asked interview questions and to come up with some questions of your own. This shows a vested interest in the opportunity.
Of course, you should also brush up on your interview technique to ensure a stellar first impression.