customer service questions for call center applicants

Customer Service Questions for Call Center Applicants

Customer service job interview questions for call center applicants are designed to test out call their problem-solving and customer handling skills. The questions are related to customer service, asking about your previous work experiences and your opinion about a certain customer scenario.

If you want to know the type questions that your interviewer might ask on your job interview, read on. Here’s the best way to answer call center customer service job interview questions.

First, I’ll discuss the different types of customer service questions then explain how you can best answer each of them.

1. The basic customer service questions

Consider basic questions as your warm-up. They’re easy to answer as long as you know the principles of basic customer service which is really all about making customers happy while following the company policy.

Interviewers ask these to see if you understand the nature of the job and whether you have an idea of what you’re getting into. You don’t have to go in-depth with your answers. Just to do your research.

Example 1:

What is customer good service?

Good customer service is all about making customers happy while still following the company policy. For me, making customers happy means providing the best resolution possible in the fastest possible time-frame. This way, the customers feel that the company genuinely cares about their problems and they’ll likely do business again in the future.

Example 2:

What is your idea of a call center?

A call center is a place where agents make and receive calls for various purposes. The calls could either be inbound when agents receive the call or outbound when agents make the call.

As far as I know, inbound calls are usually for customer service when customers call for help with their problems. Outbound, on the other hand, are usually for sales when the company has something to offer and promote to their potential or existing customers.

Example 3:

What do you think does “going the extra mile for customers mean?

For me, going the extra mile for the customers means doing more than what’s required within my capacity.

For example, a customer is asking about specific info about vintage handbags. Instead of just telling her to search them on the site, I could offer to send her an email with the links of the handbags and the info she wants to know.

This way, she’s likely gonna remember the company for excellent service and even recommend it.

2. Situational customer service questions

In a situational call center interview question, the interviewer lays out a customer-agent scenario, then ask you to picture yourself as the agent helping that customer. The question then ends with, “what/ how would you do?”

Let’s say a customer received a defective item and she wants a replacement. Unfortunately, the replacement is no longer in stock. How would you explain that her only option is a refund?

First, I would apologize and then break the news. After that, I would quickly emphasize the next best resolution which is a full refund. For extra assistance, I’d offer to send her the links of similar products that she might be interested in, then assure her that this time, we’ll make sure it’s going to be in good condition.

Sometimes though, your interviewer will ask you to say it like in a mini-mock call. You’ll act as an agent and she as the customer— usually, an irate one.

Example 1:

If you translate the answer above to a mini mock call, it would look like this:

Customer: I want to get a replacement for that defective dress.

You: I’m so sorry for the defective item you received. When a customer receives a defective product, we normally issue a replacement ASAP but I’m seeing in the inventory that a replacement is no longer available—

Customer: What!? What do you mean not available? I need that dress next month!

You: I really wish we could provide the replacement for you, Anna but in this case, we just can’t. However, you have another option: We’ll process your refund right now. You can either just take the refund, or I can send you links of dresses similar to the red dress you purchased. I see that we have several here and they’re in stock.

Customer: And why would I do that? The last time I did, you sent me a defective one!

You: I’m really sorry about our mistake. I can’t justify the error and the damage has been done but the next best thing I can do for you now is to make sure the next dress you’ll receive is in a hundred percent good condition. I could email the shipment team to double-check the dress before shipment.

Example 2:

A customer was overcharged because she exceeded the data limit of her internet plan. How would you tell her that she needs to pay it and that there’s no exception?

First, I’d tell her the exact reason why she was charged more than her expected rate. Of course, she’d likely dispute the charge so I’ll tell her that the policy has been highlighted during her sign up process and that there’s no other alternative but to pay for it.

I think the key to addressing issues that have no alternative for the customer is to sound firm and confident about my answer. Otherwise, if the customer detects a slight uncertainty in my voice, she’ll likely escalate the call to a supervisor.

For the mock call format on this scenario, click here.

How to answer situational customer service questions

  • Before addressing an irate customer’s concern, acknowledge her feelings first. An irate customer will never help you solve the problem if you take her feelings for granted.
  • If the customer’s original request cannot be done, provide the second resolution. Remember though that it should always follow the company policy.
  • Offer extra assistance. In the first example, the agent walked the extra mile by offering to send her links of similar products she could purchase as a replacement.
  • However, do not apologize if it’s not the company’s fault. If the customer’s problem was her fault (like the second example), you can empathize without actually apologizing. This tells the customer that you will try to help her but she should not blame the company for a mistake she did. Period.

Difference between behavioral and situational customer service question

Situational customer service questions only focus on your call handling skills and how you interact with customers over the phone.

On the other hand, behavioral interview questions focus on your working behavior and overall professionalism in the workplace including your interactions with colleagues at work.

If you want to know how to answer behavioral interview questions, read this detailed guide.

3. The yes-or-no and why-or-why-not questions

These are the questions that you can answer with yes or no but you’d need to support your answer by explaining why.

To answer these type of questions follow the PREP format:

  • Point
  • Reason
  • Explain/ Expound: This part is where you support your Point and Reason by providing proofs, examples, alternatives, or painting a scenario proving your Point.
  • Point: This is where you restate your Point, but this is optional.

Read more about the PREP method here.

Example 1:

Do you think it’s okay to say no to a customer? Why or why not?

Point:

Yes, it’s perfectly okay to say no to a customer.

Reason:
In fact, in some situations, it’s necessary and impossible not say no.

Expound: (by citing examples on how to refuse properly)
What an agent needs to remember when saying no to a customer is to not just stop at “no”. She needs to a.) explain why a certain request cannot be done, and b.) provide the next best resolution according to the company policy (if applicable).

Point:
So yes, it’s perfectly okay to say no to a customer as long as you’re making an effort to help the customer out the best that you can while in accordance with the policy.

Example 2:

Do you agree that the customer is always right?

Point:
No.

Reason:
If the customer is always right, then company policy might as well not exist. I’ve been dealing with customers face-to-face for 3 years and most of them have their fair share of unreasonable demands.

Explain: (by providing an alternative)
However, in some cases, I believe in the power of one-time exceptions. For example, a customer was overcharged for a service she didn’t use, and she wasn’t aware of it. Then the company might issue a one-time exception, exempting her from the charge.

The next time it happens, the customer will be reluctant to raise the subject again and will instead pay for it. She’s been given a chance.

Point: (You can remove this part if you think you’ve already proven your point enough in the Explanation.)
So no, I don’t think the customer is always right.

4. Other customer-related questions and examples

Example 1:

What do you think is the best way to deal with irate customers?

In my experience, the best way to deal with irate customers is to first acknowledge their feelings and apologize if it’s the company’s fault.

By addressing their feelings first and getting past the customer’s emotions, it’s easier to probe and determine the cause of the problem, resulting in a timely resolution.

Resolving a problem without first acknowledging the customer’s feelings unnecessarily escalates a call.

Example 2:

What do you think are the top traits and characteristics of an effective customer service agent? Why?

An effective customer service agent requires a lot of skills but for me, being patient and analytical are the two most important ones.

Patient, because in most cases, customers are going to be unhappy and the job is to make them happy. You can’t do that by losing your cool halfway through the call.

Analytical, because contrary to popular belief, customer service agents don’t survive on scripts. The job is about understanding why customer experiences issues and how to resolve them. This involves deciding which info to take in and which ones to ignore and then coming up with the best resolution according to the policy. You can’t do that by relying on scripts.

How do you handle stress?

Based on your answer, the interviewer will judge how effective your process is when dealing with stress. You need to convince your interviewer that you’re capable of handling stress and won’t likely quit when difficulty arises.

Here’s an article that’ll show you the technique on how to answer this.

Difference between mock call and customer service questions for call center applicants

In a mock call, you have to act like an actual call center agent throughout the test. The test is also more particular with the call flow and asks questions like:

  • Did the agent open/ close the call properly?
  • Was the company name mentioned?
  • Did the agent empathize with the customer?
  • Did the agent confirm the customer’s account name?

On the other hand, a customer service interview question focuses more on discussing the principle of problem-solving rather than acting out the whole call flow.

Meaning, you don’t necessarily have to talk like an agent throughout the interview. Instead, you discuss your solution to the customer’s problem and explain why. You may have to act as an agent at some point in the interview but you’ll eventually revert back to talking to the interviewer.

It asks questions like:

  • What is the solution to the customer’s problem?
  • How does your solution solve the customer’s problem?
  • Does your solution follow the company policy?

If you want a guide on how to pass your mock call test, check this article out: Mock Call Tips and Scenario: Complete Guide to Pass & Get Hired.

Join the discussion