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How to Answer the Question: What Does Customer Service Mean to You?

It’s more than just service with a smile

By Erica Garcia

For anyone who’s interviewing for a customer service position, the question, what does customer service mean to you? is likely to come up. 

With helpful tips and example scripts, our guide to answering this interview question will help you get one step closer to landing that job.

Think about it: What is the best customer service you've received? 

Before going into the interview, think about what you consider to be good customer service. When was the last time you went into a coffee shop or retail store or restaurant or called a customer service line or live-chatted with an associate? Did you prefer an experience that was friendly and empathetic? Fast and to-the-point? Consider the good and bad and use this as the starting point for your answer. 

Read more: Waiting to Hear Back on a Job Application? Here's How Long You Can Expect to Wait

Is the customer is always right?

You may think that when it comes to customer service, most companies uphold the idea that the "customer is always right." The truth is, companies just want to make sure that you have what it takes to provide quality service that'll keep customers satisfied and coming back. In other words, you’ll have customers that are “wrong,” you’ll have customers that are angry or rude; what matters is how you respond. 

6 ways to answer: What does customer service need to you?

Once you’ve considered your own experience on the customer side of customer service, it’s time to form your answer. Here are some ways you might respond to the question, what does customer service mean to you?

Example answer #1: Attitude is everything

It’s super simple: attitude is everything in customer service. Kindness, patience, a smile, and good listening skills go a long way in making a customer feel valued. Even if I can’t solve their problem right then and there, they should feel heard.

Example answer #2: Customer service is about exceeding expectations

To me, customer service means going above and beyond what’s expected of me in my job. I am committed to knowing as much as I possibly can about the services/products that your company provides so that I will be able to provide clients the very best solutions.

Example answer #3: Efficiency matters

Great customer service means ensuring that customers and clients get the solutions they need quickly and efficiently. In past jobs, I learned about the importance of working quickly to make sure every customer was satisfied, and I draw from this experience to give the best support that I can.

Example answer #4: Customer service starts before the problem arises

Customer service means anticipating problems before they even come up. I do this by really understanding the product and my customers’ needs—keeping in touch regularly, regular checks on progress, understanding the clients’ goals. All of these things help me get in front of problems before they become problems. 

Read more: 3 Right Ways to Answer: Why Are You the Best Person for This Job?

Bonus tip: share your personal experience

Your interviewer is asking what customer service means to you, so feel free to add in a personal anecdote about a time you experienced really good customer service or when you provided really good customer service. 

Example answer #5: Customer service means really caring about the issue

I once called a furniture company when the delivery date for dining was pushed back more than a month. I explained that I needed the table in time for Thanksgiving and asked if there was anything they could do. The customer service rep heard me out, told me they totally understood why I was bothered, and told me: ‘hang tight, I’m going to figure out a way to get this to you in time. What day are you hosting people?’ That attitude really put me at ease. It was such a small thing, but I felt like I had someone on my team.

Example answer #6: Customer service is about the details

In my last job, when I received a customer complaint by email, I made a point to respond with a plan by phone. This really made my customers know that I was actively looking for a solution and added an extra touch of attention. After implementation, I followed up with an email to check in.

Read more: The 5 Best Ways to Answer: Why Should We Hire You?

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