Even though the customer is always right, the customer is not always sane or well behaved or diplomatic. Many customers get angry quickly, sometimes for good reason, sometimes not, and the moment a customer gets angry or frustrated with your company, the business is at risk for losing the customer and possibly developing a negative reputation that may be shared with others.
Yet one thing is true – if a customer is upset, there is always something your team could do better. So businesses that depend a great deal on customer service want to know that you’re someone that understands that basic principle.
Behavioral Interview Question: Give me an example of a time when you have had to deal with an irate or angry customer? What did you do? How did the situation end up?
Questions about dealing with angry or difficult customers are part trick question, part opportunity to really showcase your customer service skills.
The reason there is a trick component to this type of behavioral interview question is because:
- You don’t want to accidentally talk about a problem you caused.
- You don’t want to sound like there was something wrong with the customer.
One of the worst answers you can provide is one where you make it look like the customer was angry for no reason because of something you did, like “I told the customer they could talk to the front desk and they were furious with me for no reason.” That implies that there probably was a reason, and it implies you’re trying to say negative things about the customer.
But this also means that there is an opportunity, because if you can talk about a problem you did not cause, and you handle that problem with grace and understanding, you’re really going to show the interviewer that you have talent.
“When you work in IT support, there are so many opportunities for even the experts to make mistakes. I remember I received a phone call one day from a customer that had recently spoken with a colleague, and was furious because the colleague’s solution appeared to make the situation worse.
First, of course, I started with an apology, and repeated their issue back to them to show them that I was listening and cared. As they were discussing the issue with me, I looked them up by their phone number and found all the notes left by the previous IT staff member. Unfortunately it wasn’t long before I found the mistake. It was actually something pretty simple – an update to the settings on the server that wasn’t completed. But since I knew how distressed the customer was, I fixed the issue and then continued to converse with him for a while to ensure it was working properly. By the time we were sure that the problem had been fixed, he and I were talking about baseball, and it seemed like he felt a lot better. Afterward I gave him $10 off for the month for his stress and he was still a customer by the time I left the company.”
Notice that in this answer, the person fixed the problem themselves that was caused by other people and displayed an outstanding amount of recognition for what to do when a customer is stressed. At no point was anything the customer’s fault either. This type of answer can really help you stand out when it comes to customer management job interview questions.