Retail world has become incredibly competitive. Customers always have a choice–they can shop online or offline, go to a big mall or a small store, and within all these segments they have dozens of options. Price is important, of course, but so is customer service, the way they are treated in the place, their shopping experience. If they do not enjoy their time in the store (offline or online), they will shop somewhere else next time.

Hiring managers are well aware of the importance of excellent customer service. When interviewing for a job in any retail store, you will always face at least one or two questions about customer service. Now we will look at 7 sample answers to one of these questions–perhaps the most difficult one, because you should narrate a situation from the past in your answer. Or at least that’s what they are inquiring about…

 

7 sample answers to “Give an example of a time that you provided great customer service” interview question

  1. A woman stood near the shelf with perfumes, looking confused. I was standing behind the cash register but there were no customers demanding my attention, so I decided to leave my place and walked to the woman. She was concerned about vegan friendliness of the perfumes, whether they were tested on animals, and whether they contained any animal products. I carefully studies each bottle she considered, and found two vegan options–which wasn’t easy to do, because you had to understand what different ingredients meant. But I had the knowledge, and helped her. She was extremely happy, and I also felt good that I went above and beyond for the customer.
  2. In my last job in a store with electronics I feel I did something not every manager would praise me for. The customer chose an expensive washing machine, but, looking at them and their appearance, it was clear to me that they were on budget–they weren’t rich. And I knew that we had a competing product in store, a washing machine from a company that wasn’t renowned, so you did not have to pay for the brand, but the washing machine had exactly the same specification as the one they had chosen. Also we didn’t receive any warranty claims for the cheaper alternative. And I decided to recommend this product to them, explaining that it was principally the same thing, and they can save 30% of money. They were extremely grateful for my advice, and came to our store repeatedly. So at the end maybe I made more money for my employer, by helping the customer spend less the first time…
  3. This is my first job application in retail, so I haven’t had a chance yet to deliver an excellent service to the customers. But I understand what it means, to deliver such a service. It means to pay our attention to every move and gesture of the customer, to basically read from their lips, to try our best to help them make reasonable shopping decisions. And more than anything else, they should feel welcome and heard out while in the store. And I understand how crucial it is to deliver such a service in this competitive landscape. I will try to do so every time.
  4. I recall my job in a call center, first line of technical support. As you can imagine, many people who called us lacked any technical knowledge, and could not even describe the problem they experienced. I always stayed patient, and, with the help of targeted questions–asking them about different lights and signals on their devices, explaining everything clearly, helped them to identify the problem. Then I either addressed it directly, or, if it was more difficult, I forwarded the customer to level 2 support. I believe that this was an excellent customer service, and I also got great ratings in our internal system from the customers.

 

  1. I have a lot of experience with working in a busy restaurant, place full of people from morning to evening. And the place was often understaffed. As you can imagine, it was tough to not let the customers waiting for too long, to actually meet their expectations. But I always tried my best, to the level the circumstances in the restaurant allowed me to go. I ran from tables to kitchen and back, having a great system in my work, always serving guests in an order in which they arrived to the place, minimizing the waiting times. Many customers appreciated my effort, tipping me generously. And while I enjoyed their recognition, I also knew I had to change my place of work. It was just too exhausting, and the manager refused to hire another waitress to help me out. So here I am, applying for a job in your place.
  2. The expectations were only the highest in my flight attendant role. You know how it goes in the cabin. Every passenger expects that the flight attendants always smile, keep eye contact with them, and meet their every wish. And that’s exactly what I did, flight after flight. I tried to be courteous, and react with smile to even the most bizarre requests. And if the passenger asked something that was forbidden, instead of scolding them I politely described why they could not get what they wanted. I think that I provided excellent customer service onboard. Now I am too old to work as a flight attendant. But I can assure you that I want to continue trying my best for each customer. Just the place of work will be different…
  3. I’ve been working in sales for almost a decade. And I understand that it is five times cheaper to retain an existing customer than to gain a new one. I have always understood this, and that’s why I always tried to provide an excellent customer service. At the end of the day, it’s the only way to retain the customer. Most sales guys forget the shopper once they sign the contract. Not me though. I sent regular newsletters to customers, and always when I found a fitting offer, or a way how they could save money, I gave them a call. This helped me to build long-lasting relationships with my clients, and retain 80% of all customers. Regardless of my new place of work, I’d like to continue with this approach to sales.

 

If you apply for your first job, tell them what you plan to do to deliver an excellent customer service

Everyone has to start somewhere. If they invited you for an interview, your lack of experience certainly isn’t s showstopper. But you can hardly talk about a situation when you delivered an excellent customer service. Hence you have two options at this point.

One is emphasizing the importance of such a service, and explain what it means to you–how you plan to deliver it. Second option is narrating a situation when you actually received such a service from someone–in a store, in a bank, from a flight attendant, etc. In both cases, you demonstrate that you understand what it means to provide an excellent service, though you haven’t provided it to anyone yet–simply because you lack the experience, the chance to did so in the past.

Special Tip: This question won’t be the only difficult scenario-based question you will face while interviewing for any decent job. You will face questions about prioritization, dealing with pressure, dealing with ambiguity, and other tricky scenarios that happen in the workplace, and when dealing with customers. If you want to make sure that you stand out with your answers and outclass your competitors, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to 31 tricky scenario based questions (+ more) will help you streamline your interview preparation, outclass your competitors, and eventually get the job.

Speak with enthusiasm when you narrate your experience with excellent service

What you say is important, but how you say it also matters. They should not get an impression that you delivered a great service only because it was expected from you, or because your employer threatened to fire you if you failed to provide an outstanding customer service.

On the contrary, they should feel that you enjoy delivering an excellent service, that it makes you feel better about your job, that it is something that gives some meaning to your everyday routine in a retail store, call center, onboard an aircraft. Try to speak with enthusiasm about your experience. Ensure them that delivering a great service to someone made you feel better about your own job. That’s the attitude they seek in the best job candidates

Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions related to customer service:

Matthew Chulaw
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