30+ Customer Service Interview Questions and Sample Answers

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Review customer service interview questions before an upcoming interview! A customer service representative is a professional who takes phone calls, emails, support tickets, and support requests on behalf of the customer. They decide the best path forward for helping the customer deal with their support issues. A customer service representative can be a remote professional, handling service requests over the phone. Or they can be found within a retail store setting, helping to assist customers who are in person.

A customer service representative (or “CSR”) can sometimes be referred to as a customer service agent. Or a customer service associate. And a customer service rep, customer care representative, and a customer service specialist.

A job applicant's answer or candidate's answer should show experience in the customer service role. Either as a customer service agent, customer service rep, or customer support representative. Job applicants should expect an initial phone interview. Then followed by an in-person interview or video interview as part of the interview process.

This interview question and answer guide is accurate for the following customer service job titles:

  • Remote Customer Service Representative
  • Customer Service Specialist
  • A Customer Service Engineer
  • Customer Service Supervisor
  • A Customer Service Manager
  • Customer Support Representative
  • Remote Customer Support Representative
  • Customer Support Specialist
  • Multilingual Customer Support Specialist
  • Customer Support Engineer
  • Customer Support Manager
  • A Customer Success Associate
  • Customer Success Manager
  • A Customer Success Team Lead
  • Customer Experience Manager
  • Director of Customer Experience
  • Voice of the Customer
  • Customer Advocate
  • Chief Customer Office

What is a Customer Service Representative?

While there are customer support agents, customer service representatives, online customer support agents, retail customer service representatives, and many other job titles. The role of the support representative is similar.

A customer service representative interacts with customers to handle complaints, process orders and provides information about an organization’s products or services. A customer service representative can be contacted by telephone, email, or directly in a retail store location. They assist customers with issues related to their purchases or future purchases.

What is the Hiring Manager Looking For?

A hiring manager is looking for a candidate who has strong customer service core competencies, computer skills, and proficiency with customer support portals. Customer service is often described as a "people" business. Meaning communication skills, problem-solving skills, and a strong passion for the role is critical to the hiring manager. They'll see the candidate as a "good fit" for the position.

Additional skills the hiring manager look for include:

  • Persuasive speaking skills.
  • Empathy skills.
  • Adaptability skills.
  • Ability to use positive language and verbal communication.
  • Self-control skills.
  • Responsibility.
  • Leadership.
  • Patience.
  • Effective and active-listening skills.
  • Time management skills.
  • Willingness to improve.
  • Knowledge of products and services.
  • Ability to ask for help when needed.

How to Answer Customer Service Interview Questions

Customer service is reliant on good, clear verbal communication. A business is relying on its agents to represent the business while addressing customer issues or concerns professionally. When answering customer service interview questions, it's best to answer questions with stories when possible.

A customer service hiring manager is surely going to ask qualifying questions. These are questions related to knowledge of the role. And how the role plays an integral part in the success of the business. It's important to comprehend and potentially memorize part of the job description before going into the interview.

Aside from qualifying questions, answer with stories. Using prior customer service interactions. For those with no experience, there should be at least one or two customer service interactions in prior positions. For example, as a secretary, answering phones and handling customer conflicts is considered customer service. Try to recollect work situations that translate into customer service opportunities.

Customer Service Interview Questions and Answers

Below are customer service interview questions that a hiring manager might ask in an interview. Each interview question contains a sample answer for your guidance.

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What is a customer service representative or customer service agent?

A customer service representative is a professional who interacts with customers to handle complaints and process orders. And provides information about an organization’s products or services. A customer service representative can be contacted by telephone, email, or directly in a retail store location. They assist customers with issues related to their purchases or future purchases.

A customer service representative (or “CSR”) can sometimes be referred to as a customer service agent. Or a customer service associate, customer service rep, customer care representative, and customer service specialist.

In your own words, how would you describe a customer service representative's essential job function inside the business?

Answer: A customer service representative answers questions and resolves problems for a business's customers or clients. When a client or customer calls the business, a representative will open the customer's file in the company's computer system. And look up recent purchase orders or client information. The representative will use this information to solve problems related to the products or services the customer is calling about. A customer service representative might deal with customers in-person, by phone, by email, or through a CRM software like Zendesk, Hubspot, or Salesforce.

What are the job duties of a customer service representative?

Answer: I'd say the key skills of a customer service representative are:

  • Acknowledge and resolve customer complaints.
  • Maintain a positive, empathetic, and professional attitude toward customers at all times.
  • Respond to customer inquiries and questions.
  • Assist with managing a team of junior customer service representatives.
  • Ensure overall customer satisfaction and high-quality customer experience.
  • Mark completed customer service requests through help desk software.

What are he job duties of a healthcare customer service representative?

Answer: I'd say the key skills of a healthcare customer service representative are:

  • Providing outstanding customer service to ensure repeat business.
  • Promoting our products and services to current and potential customers during regular customer inquiries.
  • Ensuring all transactions are completed in compliance with federal, state, and local regulations.

What are the job duties of a retail customer service representative?

Answer: I'd say the key skills of a retail customer service representative are:

  • Follows instructions of supervisors and assists other team members in performing store functions.
  • Assists in the training of store team members and other staff.
  • Demonstrates consultative behaviors in a retail environment to understand each customer's individualized needs.
  • Provides an outstanding customer service experience by using consultative skills to anticipate customer needs, suggest alternatives, and find solutions to meet customer needs. Treating each customer as a client of the business.

What are the key skills you would look for in a customer service agent?

I would be looking for these key skills:

  • Persuasive speaking skills.
  • Empathy skills.
  • Adaptability skills.
  • Ability to use positive language and verbal communication.
  • Clear communication skills.
  • Self-control skills.
  • Responsibility.
  • Leadership.

What do you consider to be good customer service?

Answer: Good customer service fills gaps between what the customer wants and what our product or service cannot provide. When a customer feels satisfied and willing to continue working with us, they feel taken care of, assessed, and addressed. Simply put, they feel important. The customer feels attended. And they feel like their problems are important to the business. This is true the customer problems are fundamental to the business.

What do you consider to be great customer service?

Answer: Great customer service is when the customer feels a strong loyalty after their interaction with you. It’s more than simply showing the customer they are worthy but making them feel customized and tailored toward. It's about actively listening to the customer, deciding to be proactive, and practice problem-solving skills alongside the customer. This process makes the customer feel "heard" and ensures that customer loyalty begins to play a part in the customer journey.

How would you work with the customer service manager?

Answer: It’s important to coordinate efforts with the service manager. Ensure that support requests are being answered on time to ensure that they are being answered according to brand standards. If new questions are asked, this feedback should be given to the manager to help decide a better script for the future.

What ways have you provided customer support in the past?

Answer: I’ve provided both virtual customer support and sales floor customer support. Each one required a different set of soft skills to ensure customers were satisfied. When looking back on my virtual or call center customer support experience, I utilized many customer support portals. I'm very grateful for receiving that training and experience. We used CRM systems like Hubspot, Salesforce, and more. On the sales floor, our skills and training were focused on obtaining "people skills" that allowed us to better listen to customers. And respond to customer service requests.

How would you deal with an angry customer or unhappy customer?

Answer: It’s never easy to deal with a difficult customer. It’s important to quickly reverse the scenario and determine what is upsetting the customer, then figure out how to resolve that quickly. Then work your way through what the core issue is with the customer. This can be difficult when it comes to long wait times. But it can be addressed through rewards or compensation.

Job Seeker Tip: It can be more helpful to turn this question into a short 90-second story. Describing what you experienced in the past with a difficult customer and how you handled it. It can sometimes be better to tell a story versus repeating a good answer the interviewer may have heard before.

What is one customer service skill that is unique to you?

Answer: The ability to be empathetic to each situation and the customer. Knowing how a situation could make them feel and how that feeling is essential. I'd like to think that I have a greater ability than others when it comes to this. I'd say it's because I try to practice visualizing myself in the other person's position. And then trying to respond from there.

How do you ensure customer satisfaction?

Answer: Firstly, by simply checking with the customer to ensure they are satisfied. Asking questions, inquiring with the customer, and ensuring that they truly feel like their needs or issues have been addressed and resolved. This is a vital process to follow-up and inquire after the issue has been resolved.

What does customer care mean to you?

Answer: Customer care means the ability to represent our brand standards. And ensure the customer is clear on how that impacts their service, product, or our communication together. This process brings a sense of customer loyalty and protects the brand's image from being harmed through a bad interaction.

Why are communication skills important in the customer service representative role?

Answer: Communication is everything when it comes to customer service. The main part of customer service communication that is more critical is empathy. And the ability to fill gaps (through deductive reasoning) when the customer cannot be clear.

Behavioral Question: Tell me about an experience you had with a customer. An experience where you were unable to service the customer’s needs, and it turned into a difficult situation.

Job Seeker Tip: When the interviewer asks a “tell me about a time” interview question, it is a behavioral interview question. These questions are intended to test your soft skills and general competency for the role. It can give the interviewer an opportunity to predict the future “on the job” performance. There may be many behavioral interview questions asked for the customer service job interview. Since it shows your previous experience and ability to navigate tough situations. Behavioral interview questions are sometimes referred to as situational interview questions. Use the STAR Method.

Answer: It was during closing time at Best Buy, and we had a customer come in with a large return. But our return department was closed. This caused the customer pain because he needed to return the product that day before leaving for vacation. We couldn’t really handle the return without the credit card on file. So, we couldn’t have the customer leave their details for the following day. The customer became angry that the returns department left “early.” We decided to help him file the return online and then the next day completed the return, which solved the situation.

How do you collect customer feedback?

Answer: At the end of each interaction, we should be asking the customer what their service was like with me/us. Recording this and sending it along to our customer service manager. It’s important always to be improving the customer service position. And gaining insight into what our customers are expecting for the next time we speak with them.

How do you manage the customer expectations of customer service?

Answer: It’s important to tell the customer what I can and cannot help with. Certain situations and requests are not suitable for customer service. Managing those expectations upfront can mitigate complicated scenarios where the customer feels they can’t be taken care of.

How do you know you've satisfied a customer?

Answer: It's all in the body language of a customer. Even over the phone, you can hear the tone of the customer. When you know you've helped them, their mood changes. If you don't hear that, it might be best to ask a few more questions. And be sure that all of their needs have been appropriately addressed.

How do you know you haven't satisfied a customer?

Answer: A customer will show their dissatisfaction through body language and tone of voice. When a customer isn't fully satisfied, it is essential to give up on that customer. Ask questions like, "I feel like I wasn't able to help you fully, what else can I do?" Or questions that can investigate what other needs the customer may have that they don't feel comfortable addressing.

How do you coordinate customer service with other representatives?

Answer: It's important to recap customer service calls and experiences at the end of the workday or workweek. This helps to make sure that the team is adapting to the customer's new needs and learns ways to work together to address them. If a customer service representative has a positive outcome from a particular customer service event, we can learn from that and adapt quickly.

What do you do when a customer gives you positive feedback?

Answer: The process of accepting positive and negative feedback is the same. We must look at this feedback objectively, learn what went well and what didn't go so well. Keep the methods that went well and then adapt and change those that didn't work as expected. This is the best way to take feedback. It is about always choosing to evolve and grow.

What do you do when a customer gives you negative feedback?

Answer: The process of accepting positive and negative feedback is the same. We must look at this feedback objectively, learn what went well and what didn't go so well. Keep the methods that went well and then adapt and change those that didn't work as expected. This is the best way to take feedback. It is about always choosing to evolve and grow.

Tell me about a time you demonstrated great teamwork.

Answer: I was working in a previous retail setting. And there was a customer who had asked me a question that I wasn't familiar with. I wanted to answer the question for the customer. But noticed that all associates were busy occupied with other customers. At that time, I decided it was best if I could ask for help. I asked our store manager, who was occupied, but I mentioned this would be an important skill for me to learn. And he/she understood and moved forward with helping me. This is an example of great teamwork. Because I wanted to learn and was aware of my surroundings. And wanted to make sure every associate was working efficiently.

Tip: A behavioral interview question. Use the STAR Method.

Do you have any prior customer service experience?

Answer: Yes, I do. In my previous role, I was interacting with customers on the sales floor. We didn't have much time to speak with the customer. Often, the customer was in a rush to make a buying decision and then move on. With this type of interaction, I found it best to ask a few questions to customers. And then help give guidance on what products or services might fit them the best.

What is your preferred method of correspondence/communication regarding customer service or customer support?

Answer: When it comes to customer support, interacting in person is the best. When that's not available, speaking by phone is the second-best option. And then email and customer support tickets would be the least favorite option. This is because customer service is done best by listening to the customer and determining the best next steps. It can help to hear the customer's voice and try to figure out what exactly they're saying through active-listening skills.

How do you keep yourself motivated in a role that can often seem repetitive?

Answer: It's important to remember there is always something exciting in a repetitive job. For me, I find myself comfortable with the routine. Not confused as too much comfort in a job and then losing interest in it. I like to be able to assist others, help others, and hear a satisfied customer. For me, personally, I find motivation in this routine, rather than finding disappointment.

What Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software are you familiar with?

Answer: I'm familiar with Zendesk, Hubspot, and Salesforce. Those are the primary services and software that I've used. However, I'm comfortable learning new software. I've found that most CRM systems are fairly similar. And provide customer support agents with a similar setup in terms of the general features, relationship management features, and support ticket queue system.

Are you confident in utilizing multi-line phone systems?

Answer: Yes, I've used a switchboard in the past. But I'm comfortable with Cisco Systems, which happens to be the most common, in my experience.

What is your strategy for managing your call volume, follow-ups, internal responsibilities, and other time-sensitive duties?

Answer: I try to block out time during the day. I like to call it "small, medium, and large." But this refers to the idea of blocking out portions of the day to designate toward particular needs. Whether it's about dealing with call volume during expected times like in the morning or during lunch hours. Or dealing with internal responsibilities. I find myself creating a routine, evolving that routine, and ensuring that daily needs are met with weekly needs, and so forth.

What do you like/dislike the most about customer service?

Answer: It can be tough to let a customer down. Or know that we could have done better. I've found its best not to project onto others. And if there's a failure to address a customer's needs. Then that is on ourselves. And we need to perform a retrospective to determine what could have been done better. In this process, we can also address what went right. And try to do more of that. I firmly believe in the retrospective process, which is borrowed from the agile software development methodology.

Why do you want to continue working in customer support?

Answer: I've found that I'm superb at it. I'm very comfortable helping others. And I find a personal passion for being able to resolve issues for others. I believe these skills will translate into any future job that I might have, including running my own business or working with another business. Customer service is provided by nearly all companies across the United States. I feel the more involved I get in this portion of the business, the higher demand I might be able to be in.

Do you see customer service and customer support as a requirement in future business?

Answer: I see technology having some impact on customer support. But if we look at the finance industry as an example, we can see that automating customer support doesn't work that well. Customers are speaking into their phones, trying to determine the appropriate next steps, and it becomes frustrating. I believe the best strategy is to connect the customer with a real person as soon as possible. And try to resolve their issues.

How would you rewrite this automatic reply to a customer?

The reply, "Thank you for reaching out to our team; one of our reps will get back to you shortly. Have a wonderful day."

Answer: I would rewrite it like so, "Thank you so much for reaching out to the Apple Inc customer support line. We take every inquiry and call seriously. And want to address every problem that our customers feel. Due to the large volume of requests that we receive each day, it may take us 24 hours to 48 hours to respond. Please provide us some time to look into your request, determine the appropriate party, and respond with kindness as soon as we possibly can. Thank you so much, and have a wonderful day."

What is the process of "de-escalating" an angry customer?

Answer: This is when a customer has a problem feeling frustrated or upset about. And when coming into the customer service interaction, have emotions tied to the expectations of the interaction. It's never best to respond with anything but kindness. We should try to empathize with the customer, explain to them that we hear their frustration and pain, and get it. And say something along the lines of, "We really understand this a problem, I hear your pain, we are not proud of this. And we need to resolve this problem immediately. Can you please provide me with the time to be able to help you address this situation? I'd really like to be able to assist, and I will do everything in my ability to resolve this for you."

What name should you provide when working with customers?

Answer: While I can understand that some representatives may not want to share their real names. I feel that this doesn't begin the conversation with a customer on an honest level. Two options are dependent on the company policies. A fake name that is US-based or your real name if the last name isn't given. You want to come across as friendly and real, so using a name they are familiar with is vital.

When should you alert your product or management team about an interaction that you’ve had with a customer?

Answer: There’s a couple of instances where alerting the broader team is important. Particularly when the customer wants to cancel or close out their relationship to the company offerings. This is critical information for the broader management team. And at what rate that is happening is also important. For example, if we see an acceleration in support requests and an acceleration in the desire to cancel certain services. That information should go to leadership. Customer support can play a critical role in uncovering new business potential or understanding how to serve our customers better. Utilize this. And it is up to us, the representatives, to move these opportunities forward. And present them to the correct teams.

Questions to Ask the Interviewer

Asking questions to the interviewer can help establish a trusting work relationship. It shows an engaged candidate who has a strong passion for the role. Here are some questions to consider asking at the end of the interview. Be sure to eliminate any question answered through the interview:

  • Can you tell me what you personally value about the company culture here?
  • What are the short-term goals for the role?
  • What are the long-term goals for the role?
  • How would I be able to apply my problem-solving skills in this role?
  • Can you tell me more about what the onboarding process is like for this role?
  • What do you think the work-life balance will look like for this role?
  • When looking at me as a candidate, what do you think the team will value the most?
  • What's one thing you are most concerned about when it comes to myself as a candidate?
  • What skills do you feel every candidate should have in this role?
  • What is your personal management style?
  • Can you tell me more about what the hiring process has been like for this role?
  • What follow-up questions would you ask if you were trying to get hired in this role?

Customer Service Interview Tips

Interview tips for job seekers.

Know the company

One of the best ways to prepare for an upcoming interview is to know the company, the products, and the services. And what the company stands behind. For example, does the company have a guarantee that they stand behind? This can be a great way to display a preparedness for the interview. And show a passion for the business outside the customer service role.

A company will have information like this inside its corporate "About" page, or in the founding story, it shares on Wikipedia or LinkedIn. Dig through press releases to see if that reveals any information about its values and how it values it.

Ask yourself these key questions about the business:

  • What does the business offer?
  • Who are the customers?
  • What does the customer desire from the business?
  • How does the business help the customers?
  • What support issues might customers have?
  • What're the support portals the business uses (phone, email, other)?
  • What is the founding story of the business?
  • What're the business objectives?
  • What is the business working on?
  • What is the latest product or service of the business?

Know unique traits as an agent

Having prior experience is helpful. But referencing key skills can be assistive in the hiring process as well. Key skills like active-listening or patience are great to bring up. The way to bring these up in the interview is to share key stories about prior customer service interactions. And share the outcome of the interaction. This could come from a "negative" customer experience turning into a positive one. And how that occurred. Or displaying customer support interactions that are consistent, displaying a type of methodology used when approaching customer support requests.

Know the job description

An HR manager may ask qualifying questions about the opportunity. This might include questions like, "What are we looking for in a customer service agent?" Read the job description right before the interview. Refer to the key traits, characteristics, core competencies, or hard skills that on the job description. For example, having computer skills listed on the customer service representatives' job description. Memorize key parts of the job description that the hiring manager might ask about.

Additional Resources

For more information please visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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