Customer support agents take a lot of flak. No matter how great your products or services are, consumer support has to deal with customers who are frustrated, can’t get something to work, and are generally unhappy. You need to see how your candidates handle tough customers, in detail. If they can’t stay calm, it might cost you more than one customer.
The High Cost Of Bad Service
Companies lose an estimated $41 billion each year as a result of bad customer service. Asking the right customer service interview questions can put money in your pocket you didn’t realize you were missing.
Before you start interviewing, consider having your potential interviewees fill out a Myers-Briggs questionnaire. Myers-Briggs type ENFJ is often considered an ideal customer service representative personality type. DISC assessments can also be useful in choosing customer service hires. It never hurts to know who you’re dealing with and if their personality is right for the job.
Question # 1: How would you deal with an angry customer?
A candidate who mentions listening carefully, empathizing, and following company policy is a good pick. Red flags that indicate an interviewee is a bad choice include being rude and not having any previous experience dealing with difficult customers. An inexperienced candidate may make a good pick if their other answers are strong, however.
Question #2: Give me an example of a time you went to great lengths to help a customer.
This question isn’t necessarily about how the interviewee helped the customer. It’s about who they are.
Is the answer ego-centric? Does it sound like they’re trying too hard to please you? Or does it sound like a genuine response told from a mature and self-analytical perspective? Look for the applicant who is authentic and reflective in their response. Watch out for respondents who overuse the words “I” and “me”, as well as anyone who broke rules to help customers. Neither is a good sign.
Question #3: Why should we hire you for our customer service team?
Once again, this question gives you a decent look into a candidate’s personality. Do they see themselves as part of the team? Are they mentioning ways they can contribute as a team player, or focusing on their personal agenda? If they’re too focused on themselves, they may be a poor team player – even if they say they’re a fan of teamwork in Question #5.
Question #4: How well do you work under high pressure/in high stress situations?
This question is a great follow up to Question #1 if the candidate is inexperienced. You’re giving them a chance to show you how they handle stress and difficult situations. Someone who keeps their cool and tries to understand the customer is a good choice. Don’t hire anyone who describes themselves as having a quick temper. Overly emotional personality types aren’t a good fit for customer service positions, although an empathetic personality who can control their emotions can make a great pick.
Question #5: Are you a team player?
If a candidate prefers to be a ‘lone wolf’, they’re probably not the right pick. Customer service reps are always communicating – with clients and customers, as well as with the rest of your team. They need to be easy to get along with, charismatic, and (almost always) extroverted. At the same time, you need a customer service agent who can work independently. They shouldn’t require constant supervision, but should enjoy teamwork.
Customer service reps are crucial to your company’s success and will add value by communicating often and accurately with your other teams to make sure any bugs, manufacturing issues, or service problems are taken care of quickly. They can alert your product teams to changing consumer trends, regular requests for design changes to an existing product, customer requests for a new type of product, and more.
Question #6: How would you tackle X client complaint?
A great resume doesn’t always equal a great representative. Your company has an image it’s trying to project. Look for job seekers whose answers to this question resemble your ideal response. You’re also getting a good look at the job seeker’s analytical skills. Do they come up with a good reply? How long does it take them? Speed is crucial in customer service, particularly if you’re in ecommerce.
Question #7: If you had to decline a long-term customer’s request, how would you handle it? Repeat customers are the lifeblood of any business. Turning down a request from a regular client can be touchy, but it’s going to happen.
Over time, repeat customers may feel like they’re entitled to certain privileges for their loyalty – ones that might go against your company’s policies or break internal rules. Where will this rep side? Do they identify too much with the customer, look for a balanced solution, or answer too harshly (potentially endangering the client relationship)?
Consider roleplaying this situation and a few other tricky scenarios to get a good feel for how the potential hire responds.
Additional Customer Service Interview Questions to Ask:
- How experienced are you with X technology?
- Do you consider yourself a ‘people person’? Why or why not?
- Share your previous experience working in customer service
- If a customer is using abusive language with you, but has a valid point, how would you handle it?
- What three words would your friends and family choose to describe you? Your co-workers? You?
- What type of work environment do you thrive in?
- Describe one customer service scenario you handled particularly well.
- What do you know about our company and services?
- How do you define customer service?
- If we meet again in three years, what goals do you need to have accomplished in order to feel successful?