How to answer "What is your experience with customer service?" (with sample answers)

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

Why Employers Ask This

Employers ask about your experience with customer service because it is an essential skill in many job roles. Whether you are working in retail, food service, hospitality, or any other customer-facing industry, you need to be able to communicate effectively with customers. Companies want to hire individuals who can provide excellent customer service, resolve issues efficiently, and create a positive experience for customers.

In addition, employers want to gauge your experience with difficult customers. Customer service can be challenging, and customers can be demanding, angry, and even abusive sometimes. Therefore, employers want to assess your ability to handle pressure and manage customer's needs and expectations.

How to Answer the Question

When answering the question, "What is your experience with customer service?" in a job interview, keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Highlight your relevant experience: Discuss any previous job roles where you have interacted with customers and provided excellent service. Provide examples of a time when you handled customer complaints and resolved issues to the customer's satisfaction.
  2. Show your communication skills: Customer service requires excellent communication skills, both verbal and written. Talk about how you addressed customers' concerns and effectively communicated with them, even in challenging situations.
  3. Discuss your ability to handle pressure: The interviewer may want to assess your ability to handle stress, particularly when dealing with difficult customers. Mention how you remained calm, empathetic, and professional in resolving the customer's concerns.
  4. Emphasize your ability to work in a team: Customer service is often a team effort. Bring up any instances where you collaborated with colleagues or worked in a team to provide seamless customer service experience.

Remember to be honest and concise in your response. Provide specific examples to back up your claims, and avoid generalities. Your answer should demonstrate that you have the skills and experience needed to excel in a customer-focused role.

Sample answers:

  1. Bad answer:

    "I've never worked in customer service before, but I'm really good with people. I think I could figure it out pretty quickly."

    This answer is bad because it doesn't address the question directly. The interviewer wants to know if you have experience in customer service and how it relates to the job you're applying for. Saying that you've never worked in customer service isn't a good start, and then trying to pivot to a vague positive is unlikely to impress the interviewer.

  2. Okay answer:

    "I've had some limited experience with customer service in my previous role, where I occasionally had to help field customer complaints. I found that I really enjoyed the opportunity to help solve problems and make customers happy."

    This answer is okay, but it could be stronger. It does address the question by acknowledging some customer service experience, but it doesn't provide much detail about what the experience was or how it relates to the job being applied for.

  3. Good answer:

    "I've worked in customer service for the past two years in a call center, where I handled an average of 50 calls a day. I'm experienced in de-escalating tense situations, solving customer problems, and ensuring customer satisfaction. I understand that each customer is unique, with their own problems and concerns, and I always strive to listen and address their needs."

    This answer is great because it directly and specifically addresses the question while also highlighting the applicant's experience and skills. By providing concrete details about the type of customer service work they've done, the applicant demonstrates their competency and experience in the field. This answer also shows the interviewer that the applicant has a customer-focused approach and has experience dealing with difficult situations.

  4. Great answer:

    "I have over five years of experience in customer service across various industries, including retail, hospitality, and healthcare. In my role as a customer service manager at XYZ company, I oversaw a team of 12 customer service representatives and implemented a new training program that resulted in a 25% increase in customer satisfaction ratings. I'm passionate about delivering exceptional customer service and I believe that my experience and skills would enable me to thrive in this role."

    This answer is great because it not only directly answers the question, but it also goes above and beyond by offering specific examples of the applicant's experience managing customer service teams and implementing successful initiatives. By highlighting their passion for customer service, the applicant shows that they are not only skilled but also enthusiastic about the work. This answer would likely leave a positive impression on the interviewer.

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