How to answer "Tell me about a time when you had to resolve a conflict with a customer or client." (with sample answers)

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This post is part of our series on behavioral interview questions.

Why Employers Ask This Question

Conflict resolution is an essential skill in any job that involves interaction with clients or customers. Employers want to know how you handle challenging situations and whether you have the ability to resolve conflicts effectively. They also want to assess your communication skills, emotional intelligence, and problem-solving abilities. Moreover, how you handled past customer conflicts can give them insights into how you will approach similar situations in the future. Therefore, it is crucial to prepare thoughtful and honest answers to this interview question.

How To Answer The Question

When answering the question, it is essential to provide a detailed account of the situation and how you resolved it. Use the STAR method to structure your response:

  • Situation: Briefly describe the context and the conflict you encountered.
  • Task: Explain what you needed to achieve and the challenges you faced.
  • Action: Detail the steps you took to resolve the conflict.
  • Result: Explain the outcome of your actions and what you learned from the experience.

When answering, try to highlight your problem-solving approach, communication skills, and ability to empathize with the customer. Be honest about any mistakes you made and reflect on how you would do things differently in the future. Finally, try to emphasize how you successfully resolved the conflict with a positive outcome for both parties.

Sample answers

Example 1 - Good Answer

When working at a retail store, a customer came in yelling at me because she had purchased a dress that was now on sale for a lower price. She was accusing me of overcharging her. To resolve the situation, I calmly listened to her complaint and apologized for any inconvenience. I explained to her that the sale started after she purchased the dress, but to show my appreciation for her business, I offered to give her a refund for the difference in price. After showing her that I value her as a customer, she left satisfied and I was able to save the store's reputation.

Example 2 - Bad Answer

One time while working at a restaurant, a customer came in complaining about their food being too cold. Instead of acknowledging their complaint, I told them it was not my fault and it must have been the chef's mistake. The customer became even angrier and asked to speak to the manager. This led to the customer leaving unhappy and leaving a bad review for the restaurant. Looking back, I should have listened to their complaint and offered to heat up their food or provide them with a new dish to show that I care about their experience.

Example 3 - Good Answer

During my time working in customer service at a bank, I had a customer call in upset about a fee that was charged to her account. I calmly listened to her complaint and explained to her that the fee was charged because she had gone over the transaction limit for her account. However, to show that we value her business I offered to waive the fee this one time and provided her with advice on how to avoid similar fees in the future. The customer left happy and even thanked me for my assistance.

Example 4 - Bad Answer

In my previous role at a tech support company, a customer called in angry about their slow internet connection. Instead of empathizing with the customer, I blamed their slow connection on their internet provider. I didn't bother to offer any help or suggestions on how to resolve the problem. The customer ended the call feeling frustrated and unsatisfied with the level of customer service provided. Looking back, I should have offered to troubleshoot the issue to determine if there were any ways we could improve their connection speeds.

Explanation: - Examples 1 and 3 are good answers because the candidate shows empathy towards the customer and takes responsibility for finding a solution to the problem. They also provide a positive outcome for the customer and show a willingness to go above and beyond for customer satisfaction. - Examples 2 and 4 are bad answers because the candidate does not take responsibility for the situation and does not show empathy towards the customer. They also do not offer any solutions or assistance to resolve the issue, which can lead to negative outcomes for both the customer and the company.
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