Managers play an integral role in ensuring high quality customer service, from hiring and training call center agents to monitoring performance, keeping tabs on vital call center metrics and keeping agents motivated every day.
While technology such as automated scorecards, speech analytics, and other tools enable managers to monitor agent performance objectively, customer service managers must be highly organized and have the ability to provide constructive feedback to motivate their teams to achieve continuous improvement. Excellent customer service managers can help their teams navigate challenging situations and resolve concerns for frustrated customers, as they’re often the first point of contact when a call is escalated. Exceptional managers foster a sense of ownership among their teams, contributing to employee satisfaction and reducing agent turnover – meaning less time spent interviewing, hiring, and training new customer service agents.
Download our white paper, Understanding How Interaction Analytics Can Reduce Agent Attrition, to learn more about how interaction analytics can help your management team reduce agent turnover.
In other words, a manager can have a significant impact on the quality of customer service your organization delivers. That’s why it’s important to ask the right questions when interviewing management candidates to identify those with the skills and capabilities required to lead your customer service team. To find out which interview questions are most useful when interviewing for management roles, we reached out to a panel of HR professionals and hiring managers and asked them to answer this question:
“What are the most useful customer service interview questions for managers?”
Meet Our Panel of HR Professionals & Hiring Managers:
Read on to learn what our experts had to say about the most useful customer service interview questions for managers.
Maksym Babych is the CEO at SpdLoad.
“From my point of view, the most useful customer service interview question for managers is…”
Give me an example of a time you couldn’t solve a customer’s problem.
I believe that the explanation of one unsuccessful case will give you much more than a story about 10 successful ones.
Michael Mancinone is an Organizational Psychology Consultant at Peoplogica, a leading People Analytics provider that helps Recruiters, HR managers and Business Owners select, retain, and develop high performing employees. He has experience across a multitude of organizations of different industries and sizes and is passionate about optimizing workplaces and ensuring employees love their work.
“The most useful customer service interview questions must address the most important competencies of customer service…”
These core competencies have been identified as Trust, Tact, Empathy, Conformity, Focus, and Flexibility. Here are some example questions which address each:
- Trust: How do you feel about co-workers who think that most people are basically dishonest? Is there any truth to such an opinion?
- Tact: When a customer requires a delicate touch, what methods do you usually employ? Would learning some new competencies be of interest to you?
- Empathy: How personally involved do you become in solving the needs of a customer?
- Conformity: How do you feel about those who bend the rules or take a casual attitude about procedures?
- Flexibility: Have you recently experienced the need to suggest a new way to do something at work? Tell me about that experience.
Asking interview questions based on these competencies will ensure you target whether the candidate has the right customer service skills to succeed in their role.
Matthew Lyons is the Director of Content at Game Gavel. Matthew can be described using one single word – passionate. What is Matthew most passionate about? Shooting bad guys in the digital world, and virtually all forms of digital technology as an expert contributor across multiple websites. Matt has been playing video games his entire life and pushing evergreen gaming and tech content throughout the internet for the last 10 years.
“Some of the most useful customer service interview questions for managers are…”
What do you do when you don’t know the answer to a question? Tell me about some of the problems with previous products or services that you’ve supported. What do you do when you are frustrated with a customer? Please provide an example of how you have you handled angry customers before? Give me an example of a time you gave a customer great service. Have you tried our product/service? How would you rate it? What do you enjoy about customer service?
Hassan Alnassir is the founder & owner of Premium Joy, a toy company selling educational foam playthings for children.
“The most useful interview questions for customer service role are…”
Mainly those that gauge the candidate’s capability to deal with customers in the best way possible. Some helpful questions to ask are the following:
- How would you define good customer service?
- How do you deal with a rude customer on the phone?
- What would you do if a customer requests a return-less refund?
- What is your opinion on the common belief that ‘the customer is always right’?
- Can you provide some examples of poor customer service?
- Can you tell me about the time when you provided the best customer service in the past?
- What brands provide excellent customer service based on your personal experience and why?
- Have you ever broken the rules to assist a customer? Tell me more about it.
- What do you do if a customer asks you about a technical issue you’re not informed about?
- What would you do if a customer claims the product they received through shipping is damaged or defective?
Kayla Pendleton is the Owner and Founder of Her Space, a co-working space and community for women entrepreneurs in Fresno, California.
“For me, customer service interview questions need to revolve around…”
Finding out if the potential employee understands and can agree with my approach to customer service, especially when it comes to complaints. The first question I would ask is, “How long would you let a customer talk when describing their complaint?” My policy is to totally hear them out. Just let them get it all out, as long as it’s not abusive, whether by phone or email. I also want people who will make sure they fully understand the problem, not just make the complainer go away.
Another question I would ask is, “Whose responsibility do you think it should be to fix the problem?” If they say something like “Some problems can’t be fixed,” or, “It goes to management,” then I know they might not be a good fit either, because nearly any customer problem should be looked at as an opportunity to improve services or fix a broken process. We always try to do something to fix a customer complaint whenever it’s possible. I also like to ask people about a problem they solved for a customer where they really felt great about the outcome. I appreciate the customer service person who starts the story by describing the worst kind of complaint you could imagine, because that tells me they love making things right!
Jonathan brings 25 years of hands-on operational experience in the upstream oil and gas industry in his role as Chairman & CEO for The Energist’s executive search and recruiting team. Prior to The Energists, Jonathan was VP Marketing & Technology at Schlumberger.
“Here are my three most useful questions to ask in interviews for customer service positions…”
1) Tell me about a difficult customer interaction you’ve had, and how you resolved the situation. An open-ended question like this gives you a lot of information. You can tell from the situation described what the individual sees as a “difficult interaction.” It also shows their ability to work with customers and improve their experience.
2) How do you define good customer service? This question helps you to assess whether the employee’s values in this regard align with yours as a company. It’s also a good indicator of whether the candidate has thought about customer service with any depth, or whether they’re just looking for any job.
3) Describe a time you’ve received poor customer service, and how you handled the situation. Or: Describe the best customer service you’ve ever received, and why it was so good. I like these questions because they show the candidate’s ability to differentiate good service from bad service.
Maciej Duszynski is the career expert at Zety.
“Here are two questions you can ask to a candidate for the position of manager in
a customer service team…”
- How do you keep the balance between abusive clients, brand image, and product/service revenue?
Let’s face it: lots of clients try to use their client status as leverage to get better deals. Sometimes it’s worth letting them win the arm-wrestle. Other times not. A CS Manager needs to know how to handle the ship amidst the seas of abusive clients, the fluctuations of brand image, and the need for revenue. More specifically, he needs to be able to come up with a coherent overarching strategy for CS.
- What are the hardest challenges of working in customer service, and how do you deal with them?
This question tells you about your candidate’s experience on the one hand and his or her way to deal with adversity on the other.
Jagoda Wieczorek is the HR Manager at ResumeLab.
“One excellent customer service interview question for managers is…”
Tell me about a time when you had to de-escalate an irate customer?
I like to ask this question because it forces a job seeker to recollect a real-life situation — not fantasize about something hypothetical — where they had to appease an angry customer, which is a task akin to climbing Mount Everest, blindfolded.
What I look for in a prospective hire’s answer is robust conflict resolution skills, stress resistance, and the ability to comply with the company policies.
If the candidate can walk me through their experience of successfully de-escalating an irate customer and spotlight the above skills across the board, that’s when I know I’ve struck real gold.
Bret Bonnet is the Co-Founder and President of Quality Logo Products, a $42.5M promotional products distributor located in Chicago, IL, which was recently ranked by Print+Promo Magazine as the 13th largest distributor of promotional products in the US.
“Any question the candidate is unable to prepare for ahead of time so you can catch them off guard…”
For example, I’ll often ask, “If I approached you and asked you to mail a bunch of pet gerbils to our best customers, what would be the first step/action you’d take to accomplish this?”
If they say, “Locate a mailing list,” or don’t say something along the lines of, “I’d recommend mailing anything BUT gerbils,” you can get an honest preview of how they’d handle an uncomfortable or strange situation in the office.
My second favorite interview test is having the candidate read the speech delivered by president Joseph J. Whitmore from the movie Independence Day.
Depending how much effort they put into it, they may or may not make it to the next round!
Jesse Silkoff is the Co-Founder and President of MyRoofingPal.
“When interviewing for customer service positions…”
I like to ask specific questions so that the candidate can give me anecdotes that show me their ability to problem solve on the fly, remain positive even when a customer is being difficult, and maintain a level of empathy with the customer. These are the three things I consider most important both in my personal and professional experiences, and I want to make sure anyone who contacts us is treated as if they’re that representative’s only customer.
To facilitate this, I ask questions like: What was your worst experience as a customer trying to communicate with a customer service rep? Is there a specific instance where you felt like you truly made a difference in a customer’s day? What’s an experience you handled poorly, and what would you do differently now?
I usually ask follow-up questions to gauge their level of sincerity and open a dialogue with them about what their expectations for customer service are and how they’re striving to meet them. Using this strategy has helped me hire much better customer service reps, and customer satisfaction has increased for us as a result, with fewer customers saying
they feel like our representatives aren’t listening to their concerns.
Levi is the Director of Marketing at 2ndKitchen.
“One of the best customer service interview questions for managers is…”
What is the worst customer experience situation you’ve ever dealt with?
This gives the hiring manager an opportunity to see some insights into a few crucial aspects of the candidate’s customer service skills, including:
- The intensity level the candidate has experienced
- How the candidate responded to a high-intensity interaction
- The candidate’s overall body language and emotional reactions to retelling that story
Magdalena Żurawska is the HR Expert at Livecareer.
“My favorite customer service interview questions for managers are…”
1) Describe the most problematic situation in the client-manager relationship that you experienced and how you handled it. This question is there to check how the candidate deals with clients in a stressful situation or when things escalate, and he needs to take over from the customer service staff. It’s a great behavioral question.
Is the recruitee keeping it calm? Does he defend the company’s vision and interest? An answer to this question can be really useful in assessing a candidate as long as he clearly and comprehensively explains how he would listen to customer complaints, act when the client is wrong, and deal with a client that goes into a rage phase.
2) What do you know about the products or services we offer? Customer service is based on the ability to direct customer interest to specific products or services offered by the company. For this reason, the customer service manager’s knowledge of such should be comprehensive. If a candidate shows up at an interview completely unprepared, it rarely means he is this confident about his customer service and management skills; rather, it implicates his lack of interest in the company and its services, and that’s a red flag right there.
Pratibha Vuppuluri is the Chief Blogger at She Started It, an online resource guide for working moms.
“Here are some of the most useful customer service interview questions for managers…”
- How are you going to handle a difficult customer?
- How do you keep yourself updated on the latest customer service trends and techniques?
- In your opinion, what is the most challenging part of being in the customer service industry?
- If an employee is not performing well at work, how would you handle it?
William Taylor is the Career Development Manager at VelvetJobs.
“One of the most common questions is…”
Do you see yourself as a leader? By asking this question, the interviewer is trying to determine if you not only have past experiences with leadership but also if you are self-assured and confident in your strengths. A good candidate would highlight how his/her leadership abilities reflect good customer service.
Mark Webster is Co-founder of Authority Hacker, an industry leading online marketing education company. Through their video training courses, blog, and weekly podcast, they educate beginner and expert marketers alike. Many of their 6,000+ students have taken their existing businesses to the forefront of their industries or had multi-million dollar exits.
“One thing we asked all recruits was to talk us through how they would deal with…”
A critical support ticket (e.g., a legal threat) when they have zero knowledge of the product and are unable to seek assistance from their peers. Of course, this situation would never happen in real life, but it gives us great insight into how they approach problem solving when they have little knowledge or authority on the subject.
Of course, no one will ever know absolutely everything about the product, and neither will they be able to have a pre-scripted answer to every question. The great thing about this question is that it really catches people off their guard and shows us how well they work outside their comfort zone.
There is no right or wrong answer to the question, but rather, we get to see how they work their way through a complicated situation and arrive at the best possible solution, in their mind.
This kind of insight is invaluable in telling us whether this candidate has the right problem-solving skills or not.
Joe Bailey is the Business Development Consultant at My Trading Skills.
“Here are a few of the best customer service interview questions for managers…”
- How would you deal with an angry customer? The right candidate would mention listening, showing empathy, and following the company’s procedure in handling the matter.
- How well do you work under high pressure/ stressful situations? Customer service can be really stressful, and you require individuals that are capable of working under stress without blowing their tops off.
- Provide an example of when you went to great lengths to assist a customer. The right candidate will offer a mature, authentic, and reflective account of what occurred. Be wary of self-praising, ego-centric responses.
Bottom line: Questions on how well the candidate works under pressure, examples of when they went the extra mile to help customers, and how they handle irate customers are essential in determining the right candidate for customer service roles.
James Gregory is the founder of a digital marketing agency called Agency Backlinks.
“Strong customer service relates to how much employees value their customers and clients…”
In the interview, I want to find out whether the candidate feels a sense of duty to deliver on customer needs ahead of their own.
To find this out, I ask specific ‘angry customer’ scenario questions, such as: “A client calls up, angry about what they perceive to be a breach of contract. You know that there was no breach. How do you react?”
I find that combative answers foreshadow poor customer service. They show that the candidate has little to no respect for the customer and sees them more as a ‘task at hand.’ Fairer, more deliberative, and respectful or empathetic answers are the sign of a good candidate. They imply that the candidate sees customers as distressed persons, not just an inconvenience to their day.
Michael Smit is the Project Manager at SEOpros.
“One good customer service interview question to ask is…”
How do you react to stress, or to a stressful situation or person? The secret to this is in the delivery. You ask this question once, and then allow your fellow interviewer to ask a different question. The trick is then to come back to the question time and time again, until the interviewee is faced with a stressful situation, as if their first, second, or even third answer wasn’t sufficient. You then actually get to see how they do cope with a stressful client/situation if backed into a corner. Do they lose it, get emotional, or irritated, or do they keep their cool? It works if you need to see what they are made of in a short span of time, as no one is prepared for it, so there is no right ‘prepped’ answer, just that they keep their cool and remain diplomatic.
Irina Cozma, PhD is an Organizational Psychologist with a decade of experience supporting Fortune 500 companies with their selection and development practices. Through her coaching engagements, Irina empowers her clients to show up for themselves and become better at what they do.
“Here are my go-to customer service interview questions for managers…”
First, I want to know if the manager can fix not only the issue at hand but think above and beyond one particular customer’s problem. I want to see if they think about fixing the systemic issue that generated that customer’s problem. Maybe for their direct reports, just fixing the current problem is satisfactory, but as the manager, the requirements are higher. Example question: Tell me about a time when you had to solve a problem for a dissatisfied customer. What else did you do after that particular issue was solved?
Second, I would want to see that the manger is really embracing the idea of service excellence. The manager should be a promoter of the importance of customer service when making decisions and when interacting with others. Example question: Give me an example of how you made a (service or product) decision keeping the needs of the customer top of your mind. What did you do? What was the result?
Nancy Friedman is the Founder and Chairman of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training in St Louis MO.
“One of the very best interview questions needs to be done over the phone…”
It is a forgotten process. No matter what the applicant is interviewing for – face to face or a phone position – part of the interview needs to be on the phone. (If the applicant is in the interview process; ask him to go to another office and you call them.) Pay close attention to how they answer the phone.
Reason: The manager will ‘hear’ how they talk, rate of speech, slang, good or poor English, and any other odd or unusual habits one might have. Best of all, the manager should be able to HEAR the smile. That’s the all-important item. That’s not an easy skill to ‘teach.’
The simple question to ask in that interview is: Tell me about yourself. Then let them talk. DO NOT INTERRUPT.
If the applicant fails at this and cannot explain themselves in a calm and casual, yet fun, easy manner, pauses, or asks, “Well, what do you want to know?,” then it’s not a great fit. It also speaks to how fast they can think on their feet, which is critical in a customer service position.
A customer service position sounds easy, as though it would be a piece of cake – well, if it were, then why are there so many customer service complaints? It seems like common sense, and yet we all know common sense is not so common.
Phone interviews are the most overlooked part of an interview in customer service, and it should be high on the list.
NOTE: Role playing isn’t one of the best things to do in an interview, because of the fact we cannot defuse false anger. The role playing done in an interview normally fails in the real-life scenario. Guidelines are needed, of course.
Sue Andrews is the HR & Business Consultant at KIS Finance. Sue is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, with over 25 years’ experience as an HR Director and Senior HR professional. Having managed workforces across a range of
organizations, Sue has a great deal of experience in recruiting those with the right customer service skills and attributes.
“My top 3 interview questions for successfully finding candidates with the right customer service skills to fit with a business are…”
Tell me about a time when you received poor customer service. How did it make you feel about the business / shop / restaurant where it happened?
By asking the candidate to draw on their personal experience, this question is a great way to delve into their take on what constitutes poor service and whether they fully understand all the ways that a negative customer experience can impact on your business.
Describe a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer. How did you turn the situation around?
Even the best businesses will experience the occasional difficult customer, but the strongest candidates are those who are able to take a negative situation and turn it around. Those who can give clear examples of how they have achieved this in practice will be able to demonstrate that they have the skills needed to handle difficult situations and protect your company’s reputation.
If you had to prioritize just one thing, what would you see as the most important issue for customers when it comes to receiving great service?
This question reveals what the candidate sees as the main priority when it comes to giving great customer service. Rather than asking for a list of three or four things, making them focus on just one will tell you a lot about where their priorities lie and whether they are in tune with your business’s culture and values.
Frank Spear is a content marketer for several brands under the Awesome Motive umbrella, including RafflePress. He has contributed content to the online marketing community for almost a decade.
“If you want to find an excellent customer service team for your business, you have to find out if they are passionate about helping others…”
The best thing you can ask your potential hires is how they will handle certain situations when they arise. For instance, find out how they handle irate customers. Use role-playing accordingly. Obviously, they may not know the full procedure at your company. But if they are passionate about helping people, you’ll see that in their response. It’s pretty easy to tell when someone is faking it, so keep that in mind when you’re hiring customer service representatives.
Dr. Bina Patel
Dr. Bina Patel is the CEO of Conflict Resolution Practices, dba Bina Consulting LLC.
“One of the best ways to measure the true character of an interviewee is to ask them…”
“If you are able to share with us, what are the three most important qualities when speaking with customers?” The response will provide a glimpse into their personal values. If the employee states they want to treat others based on how they would like to be treated, this is not a good response. Some people are okay being mentally or verbally abused because this is the norm they grew up in. Ask them to specify. A good response would be that customer service entails a humble attitude. When an employee speaks with me, I ensure they feel safe in their immediate environment. My job is to ensure my tone is calm, language is professional, and I am respectful towards them, despite the nature/degree of issue.
If an employee makes fun of my accent, I will not retaliate by being unprofessional, but rather, smile internally and keep going as though I did not hear it. At the end of the day, my job is to help them. I find satisfaction in helping customers. I act and do not react defensively, but rather assist them to the best of my ability and with a smile.
To be successful in any industry that is customer driven, having a strong backbone is vital. This means not allowing others to make you (meaning me) feel bad or taking home what others may say about me. Life is too short to worry about the negative elements. If an employee states in the interview that their confidence translates to happiness and a positive outlook, these are values they believe in. If an employee states, “I project positive energy outward and hope to receive it back,” then this employee will be good for the organization!
Sarah Torres Ferrick
Sarah Torres-Ferrick is a human resources expert who helps government agencies and small businesses grow high performing workforces through education and consulting.
“There are many excellent customer service interview questions to ask when interviewing for management roles…”
Questions to Evaluate Communication Skills:
- Describe a time when you were able to overcome a communication barrier(s).
- Tell me a specific time when effective listening skills helped you in a problematic situation.
- How well do you communicate with others? What communication techniques do you use?
Questions to Evaluate Stress:
- Tell me about a work nightmare you were involved in. How did you approach the situation, and what was the outcome?
- How would your past employers describe your response to hectic or stressful situations?
- What kinds of events cause you to stress on the job?
Think about a common customer service interaction and ask a question related to that.
Example: A customer comes to the register to return an item. He does not have a receipt, and the item was clearly used. You inform the customer of the return policy and he gets upset. There are several other customers in the store. What do you do?
Alexander M. Kehoe
Alexander M. Kehoe is the Co-Founder & Operations Director at Caveni Digital Solutions.
“Customer service is very dynamic in the moment, so there is no one size fits all solution to an upset customer…”
However, when we are hiring customer service or account managers, we will show them email examples of previous customer service crises and have them assess what the associated manager did right and wrong. Offering your prospective employee the chance to work through something from start to finish is a great way to get a general feel for how they would perform on the spot. Since we started using this process, the talent at our company has gone through the roof.
Barbara Hernandez-Taylor is the Head of Product Marketing at Azuga, a fleet management software that benefits businesses and drivers.
“Adversity is an inevitability when working in any sort of customer service-oriented position, so I feel it is always essential to gain insight into…”
How one has tackled any situation that revolves around difficult/frustrated customers.
When asking this, it’s geared to not only see what conclusion was reached when deciding how to handle the issue, but also (and more importantly) to see the thought process behind reaching that conclusion. It’s perfectly normal to logically come to a solution that ultimately didn’t pan out in the way it was intended to.
As far as managers, the question can be tailored to how they’ve dealt with employees that were having trouble overcoming the adversity that comes with the customer service industry. How did you prevent the issue from festering? Why did you think that a particular approach would help stop the bleeding, figuratively speaking? Examining thought processes is the most insightful way to deduce one’s caliber when it comes to handling customers, as well as the manager’s ability to help their employees overcome different types of adversity.
Jeremy Kilpatrick is the owner and operator of Front Office Solutions, a specialty call answering service for plumbers, HVAC, electricians, and other service area businesses.
“Some useful customer service question for managers include…”
Tell me about a time when you had a disagreement with one of your employees. What steps did you take to overcome it, and to make each party feel heard and understood?
When did you have an issue with a team member’s customer service? What steps and training techniques did you use to help that team member improve their customer service approach?
Have you had a time when you had to call a customer back and change your response? What did you do to understand you were in the wrong?
Ellen Mullarkey is the VP of Business Development for Messina Staffing Group.
“Some good customer service interview questions for managers include…”
Which customer service tools are you familiar with?
There are dozens of customer service applications on the market these days. But you can save a lot of time by hiring people who’ve used the software your company uses. I recently talked to a founder who owns a small chain of retail stores, and during the holidays, they only hire people who have used their software or a similar one before. He said that it takes them a little bit longer to hire, but they can put their new staff members right out on the line without having to do as much training.
That said, you shouldn’t just hire people who are familiar with your software. But having some familiarity can speed up the onboarding process.
Are you a people person? How do you know?
If you’re in customer service and you’re not a people person, you’re in the wrong field. I’ve seen people go into customer service who can’t stand customer interactions, and it never ends well. As a hiring manager, your job is to hire folks that enjoy talking to people and want to help them.
In addition to asking if they are a people person, you should ask how they know. If they shut down and can’t come up with an answer, they might be bluffing for the sake of the interview.
Tell me about a time when you solved a problem for someone else.
Great customer service reps enjoy helping people. They’re good at listening to someone else’s complaint and coming up with solutions. Even if they’ve never worked in customer service, your interviewee should be able to cite at least one time when they’ve solved a problem for someone else, either at work or in their personal life.
Pay close attention to how they tell the story. If there is genuine pride in their voice, you know that they’re a good candidate who will go above and beyond for your customers.
Zakiyah Toor is a Freelance Writer.
“Two customer service interview questions helpful when interviewing candidates for management roles are…”
Can you describe a time when you coached a team member to turn an upset customer into a satisfied one?
It’s important to know how well they are at turning around a difficult scenario so both the business and customers are happy. As a manager, they have to deal with customer complaints as part of the job, so it’s essential they have the problem-solving skills needed to succeed.
What kind of customer service tools and software do you prefer?
While differing programs and software can be learned, it’s important to gauge how a candidate is used to working. This will give you some insight into how well they’ll be able to integrate working using new methods if they need to.
Steve Pritchard is the Managing Director at Checklate.
“When interviewing for customer service management roles, ask…”
Who are our competitors?
This question is a crucial one to ask employees in the interview process; the applicant’s response not only proves how much they know the company but how invested they are in fact-checking and finding out background information.
Doing research at any level of a customer service job ensures clarity and that correct material is used. Therefore, if an interview candidate reels off a list of competitors, this proves they would be clued up on what they would be selling, the services they would be marketing, and the competitors to watch out for if they got the job at your company.
Is the customer always right? Why or why not?
This may appear to be a trick question, but it’s a really important one, especially for a customer service manager, as the majority of their job will be spent managing customer expectations, dealing with difficult customers, and working with their team to ensure any discrepancies are dealt with positively and swiftly.
Candidates should reply to this question with a “yes” and detail as to why because, although a customer’s opinion may differ to an employee’s on a product or service, the customer is at the heart of their job. So, an employee should always try and do everything they can to improve the customer experience.
Patrick Rivers is the Customer Service Manager at The Predictive Index, the leading talent optimization software company. Patrick has spent 13 years in sales and customer service roles.
“When interviewing for customer service positions, I’ve found that sometimes the best questions actually start with statements…”
Tell me about a time when a customer had a problem you couldn’t resolve. What was the situation, how did you handle it, and what was the outcome? Tell me about a time when a customer called in very irate. What was the situation, how did you handle it, and what was the outcome?
By asking that series of questions (What was the situation, how did you handle it, and what was the outcome?), you’re digging deeper than just an explanation of what happened or what the result was. You can get an understanding of their thought process and how they approach problem-solving. You can see what kind of support they might need in handling difficult customer inquiries.
It’s also important to get outside the situational questions and get into more of the behaviors that make a customer service representative successful. For example, how do they balance logging information with interpersonal interaction? How good are they at collaborating with other employees to find a solution to problems?
Reuben Yonatan is the Founder and CEO of GetVoIP.
“I have two questions I like to ask…”
Why are you interested in this role? Why have you applied?
This is one of my favorite questions to ask because it tells a lot about the candidate and what their goals are. You can gauge if they are interested in a quick gap-fill employment scenario or if they’re looking for a place where they can be loyal to and grow with personally and professionally.
What are your best and worst customer service experiences?
This question tells the hiring manager a lot about the candidate’s customer service expectations and what they feel is important when it comes to exceptional customer service.
Ryan Birdsell is the COO of SATX Technologies.
“There are several excellent customer service interview questions for managers…”
- How’s your job searching going? This question ultimately helps you determine if the candidate has a positive or negative attitude.
- Name the three biggest accomplishments in your life? We like winners and achievers, and if this person can’t name three, it shows they lack drive or goal setting.
- Another candidate has about the same experience as you. Why should I hire you versus them? This allows us to use leverage and force the candidate to think on their feet quickly.
- How would you deal with a customer who is ready to walk away from our service? This puts the applicant in a situation for us to gauge empathy, persuasiveness, and just overall good customer service.
- How do you think you did? This question will weed out anyone not confident, they ultimately will know based on the answer if they did well or not.
Rosie Ryan is an experienced recruitment consultant in the Cayman Islands with a demonstrated history of working in temporary and permanent recruitment and is skilled in sales, communication, customer relationship management (CRM), team building, relationship building, and candidate engagement.
“Customer service managers shape the customer service experience at an organization, so…”
It is crucial to ensure when hiring that you are not only looking for competency but also someone who aligns with the ideals of your organization to carry the experience forward. When conducting customer service interviews, the best way to do this is to highlight the traits and competencies that are important for success to create the backbone for your questions. Often, the key traits we consider are leadership, drive, strategic mindset, agility, and empathy.
Keeping these core traits in mind, some of our go-to interview questions when interviewing for customer service management roles are:
- Tell me about a time when you have managed an under-performing staff member. (leadership)
- How do you motivate your team to achieve high performance standards and exceed targets? (leadership, drive)
- How have you used data to improve the level of customer service? (strategic mindset)
- Can you tell me about a situation with a customer when there wasn’t a clear policy to use and you needed to make a judgment call? How did you approach your decision, and what happened? (strategic mindset, agility)
- What is the best way to help a customer who has worked with multiple agents and hasn’t received the help they need? (empathy)
Dominick Yates is the CEO/ Founder of Simplegacy Insurance and has spent 15+ years in call center customer service, including with two Fortune 100 companies. He was one of the hiring/ interview managers before starting his own company and would conduct face to face interviews roughly once a day year-round.
“A question I would ask that would provide a lot of insight is…”
Tell me about a time you unintentionally upset a customer, what did you do and how did you fix it?
These questions would allow us to see:
- How they picked up on customer cues of being unhappy
- How they dealt with tough situations
- If they did the minimum or went above and beyond to resolve the issue
- Whether they shared that situation and what they learned with their colleagues so that the team/ department could use it as a learning moment
Jeremy Harrison is the founder and CEO of Hustle Life, which is a website that connects future entrepreneurs with their second careers.
“Here are some questions that will help in hiring a good customer service manager…”
1) What are the key factors that you consider for a successful customer service department?
This question allows you to gauge if the candidate has a good grasp of the needs of the customers. It will also highlight the skills you need from the manager like performance management for the staff, empowerment of staff to meet customer demands, and the ability to implement processes to meet your customers’ needs.
2) What solutions have you implemented to solve the customer service problems you identified?
Having a proactive customer service manager who takes care of these situations should they arise is such a valuable asset to have in a company.
In the end, a customer service manager handles a very important department of your company – one that can make or break your business, so hiring the right candidate is key.
Saurabh is the Founder of a startup called Talk Travel.
“Based on my experience, I can say that the best questions to ask for a potential customer service manager are…”
1) Give the candidate a hypothetical case and see how they solve it. Customer service involves a lot of decision making on the spot, performing under pressure situations, and most importantly, keeping the customer happy. The case would bring forth the candidate’s performance in a kind of real-world situation.
Give the candidates questions and situations where they have to think about and make active decisions. This will enable you to see how they perform and treat the mission of customer service appropriately.
2) Ask them about the situations in which they performed well, as well as those in which they failed, in their career. This will give you a lot of information about the candidate.
3) Why do you want to join us? This may sound simple, but it can give a lot of insights about the person, preparation levels in knowing about the company, and interest in being a part of your company.
What customer service interview questions do you find most useful when interviewing candidates for management positions?