When you are interviewing for a customer service position, the chances are that your interviewer is interested in your ability to deal with difficult customers or challenging situations in general. These are the most challenging moments in customer service; the ability to deal with a difficult customer to come to a successful resolution. The answer you give should demonstrate your positive attitude and how you have handled such situations in the past.
Different people have different ways of handling challenges in the workplace. When you are applying for a job in the customer service department, the skill to resolve customer conflicts with successful outcomes matters a lot.
Every organization wants to hire a talented team player that possesses the required creative thinking skills, problem-solving skills, and customer service skills. Questions about your ability to deal with difficult customers to help interviewers assess these skills.
In this blog, we discuss why the interviewer is asking you about how you deal with difficult customers and how you did so in the past. Also, we tell you what you should focus on when answering this question. Furthermore, read more about frequently asked job interview questions here and check our job interview preparation checklist.
Other ways the interviewer can ask about your experience dealing with difficult customers:
The question “when have you dealt with a difficult customer to come to a successful resolution?” belongs to the behavioral category of interview questions. But it is not always necessary that the interviewer asks this question in the same format. The interviewer may ask this conflict-resolution question in several variations; a few of them are listed below:
- What actions did you take during your past jobs to deal with difficult situations?
- Give us an example where you solved a complicated problem at work.
- Describe a situation with a difficult task at the workplace and how you handled it.
- Can you tell us about a situation from your past experiences when you made a certain mistake and what you did to fix that?
- Tell us about a time when you led a project and conflict between team members occurred.
- Have you had any experience responding to unhappy or unsatisfied customers?
Why is the interviewer interested in your experience dealing with difficult customers?
Every question in a job interview has a different purpose. Interviewers do not ask random questions, and most interviews are structured in nature. A structured interview is a standardized way of interviewing based on the specific job requirements you applied for. All candidates are asked the same questions, usually in the same order. Each question gets scored, and all candidates are compared on the same scale.
Interview questions are used to get more in-depth information from the candidates and to find out whether or not their skills match the required skills for the position. In other words, their main goal is to test your abilities to work on a specific profile. It’s therefore important that you prepare before the interview to have effective answers ready for whenever this question is brought up.
Your answer will help the interviewer understand what kind of person you are and how you behave in complicated situations. You never know what kind of problem you may face during your job, especially when you have to deal with the customers or clients. The interviewers are interested in how you have handled difficult customer situations in the past.
Tips for answering job interview questions on dealing with difficult customers:
While answering this question, you need to highlight three important things:
- Your behavior and approach to your work and your strategy to deal with tough situations.
- Your ability to respond to angry or frustrated people in the right way.
- Communication skills and your abilities to fit into the work environment.
If you want to answer a behavioral question, such as how you handled difficult customers in the past, it’s best to use the STAR interview technique. This is a specific way of structuring your answer in a logical and concise way. STAR is an acronym that stands for the situation you were in, your task in that situation, the actions you took to address the situation and the results you got from your actions. Below we have highlighted a quick summary of how to prepare your answer:
First, you should clarify the situation to the interviewer by explaining the background. There is no need to spend too much time on this part, but make sure you provide a clear idea about the difficulty level or challenge of that particular situation.
After you describe the situation, talk about your specific responsibilities and what your role was. It’s important that the interviewer gets an understanding of your task.
Next, talk about the actions you took to resolve the challenges you were facing. Provide the interviewer with a step by step description of what actions you took.
Finally, talk about the outcomes of your actions. Make sure to take credit for your behavior that led to the result. Here you answer questions such as What happened? What did you accomplish? Also, provide the interviewer with information about what you learned from the situation. Make sure to focus on positive results and positive learning experiences.
Sample answers on dealing with difficult customers:
You have to show that you are the right candidate for their company and have all the desired skills to handle conflicts with customers. Here is an example to help you demonstrate that you’re able to deal with difficult customers:
‘At my previous job, once a customer came yelling due to some trouble with her order. I knew she was frustrated, and instead of taking her words personally, I tried to ensure her that the team would process the issues.
I listened to all her problems patiently and apologized for the inconvenience. She was making efforts to return an item without any receipt for the same.
I explained to her that we could not process the cash refund without getting the original receipt but that we could provide her with a store credit of the same amount. In this way, the problem ended in a win-win situation. After this, she became a loyal customer of the brand, and we also received some positive reviews from her online.’
Common Job Interview Questions & Answers
Below you can find a list of common job interview topics. Each link will direct you to an article regarding the specific topics that discuss commonly asked interview questions. Furthermore, each article discusses why the interviewer asks these questions and how you answer them!
- Career Change
- Career Goals
- Conflict Resolution
- Creative Thinking
- Cultural Fit
- Customer Service
- Growth Potential
- Honesty & Integrity
- Job Satisfaction
- Entry-Level & No experience
- Prioritization & Time Management
- Situational & Scenario-based
- Stress Management
- Telephone Interview
- Work Ethic