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Customer service is one major factor that can set you apart from your competitors. To make this happen, you need to staff your team with people who have the skills and temperament to effectively solve your customer’s issues. They have to positively represent your company during every interaction. Communication skills matter more than expertise in the product or industry.

Interview is one of the most important tools you have to vet customer service and support candidates. The appropriate interview questions reveal more useful information about a candidate than their work history. Their responses will save your time and energy on appointing the wrong candidate.

Categorize your interview questions and divide them among your hiring managers in order to hire the right customer service talent. Here are a few of them.

Approach to Customer Service:

  1. What appeals to you about this role?
  2. What is your idea of good customer service?
  3. What is the best customer service you have ever received? And why?
  4. Is there a difference between customer support and customer service?
  5. Tell us about a time you received poor customer service.

In this category, you can find people who share who share your underlying beliefs about the role of customer service in an organization. A good candidate will be able to explain why customer service is important for a business. He/she will also have the knowledge base to the difference and can give clear examples of good and bad service. They should be able to talk about your specific company, and how customer service might contribute to the growth of your company.  

Empathy, emotional intelligence and behaviour:

  1. Can you share an experience when you were proud of the level of service you gave a customer?
  2. Can you tell me about a customer who was difficult to understand, and how you approached that interaction?
  3. Can you share a situation when you had to bend the rules while assisting a customer? What was the outcome?
  4. Have you ever dealt with an unreasonable customer? How did you handle it then, and how would you handle it now?
  5. Have you ever said “no” to an important customer’s request? If yes, can you explain the situation?
  6. How would you help a customer who has worked with multiple agents and hasn’t received the help they need yet?
  7. Have you ever received a negative feedback from a customer in your past work? How did you deal with it?

This category is to understand the past service experiences and hear true stories from them. A good candidate will share detailed experiences and will be able to answer follow-up questions on the same. Look for people who take responsibility for their mistakes and show humility. Be careful about people who provide theoretical examples or narrate those experiences where the customer or their colleagues were at fault.

Problem-solving skills:

  1. Give me an example of a situation where there were major problems with your product/service, and you had to respond to your customers without having all the answers yet.
  2. Have you ever faced a situation where your customer was reporting a technical issue that you didn’t know the answer to? How did you approach this issue and how did you close it?
  3. Can you give me an example of a situation with a customer, when there was no clear policy to use, and you had to make a judgement call? How did you handle it and what happened?

Problem-solving is an invaluable customer service skill. The best candidates will be able to walk you through situations where they did not have an immediate answer. Ask them for examples where they applied these solutions to another problem. Beware of candidates quoting examples of their team or colleague providing the final answer.

Communication Skills:

  1. How do you decide what information you would include and exclude while responding to a customer?
  2. How would you handle a situation of alerting your customer when your product/service caused a major problem?
  3. Can you tell me how you convinced a customer or a teammate to change the way they were working (e.g. adopt a new procedure or modify their language)?

Any customer service employee must communicate clearly with an appropriate level of detail. This is the category to select the cream of candidates for your team. Great candidates interpret a customer’s needs and modify their communication style according to the audience.

Attitude towards work:

  1. What is your idea of a good teammate?
  2. Share an experience where you made a great contribution to your team.
  3. What have you improved at today compared to your position last year?
  4. What is the new skill that you have learned? Why and how did you learn it?
  5. How do you recharge after a long day at work?

This will make you understand your candidate’s approach towards learning new skills, how supportive they are to their colleagues and customers, etc. People who converse casually typically perform well in a customer service role.

Interviews are more than Q&A sessions:

Make your interviews structured conversations that explore the candidates’ attitude, strengths, and challenges. Encourage them to use a storytelling approach. Dig deeper and ask follow-up questions to uncover more details. Ask similar questions and give them the best chance to reveal their character and skills. Give them enough time to formulate their thoughts and then answer your questions. Hire the best candidate!!