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Job Interview Question & Answers for Exceeding Customer Expectations

by Ralph Heibutzki, studioD

If you're applying for a job that requires extensive public contact, expect a hiring manager to probe your ideas of exceeding customer expectations. The resulting interview will require you to go beyond simple factual responses. Look for questions about your ability to deal with difficult customers and negative situations, among other topics. Your responses should highlight an applicant who's committed to helping customers solve problems promptly and efficiently.

How Do You Define Great Customer Service?

Asking this question helps the interviewer determine if the applicant understands the concept of superior customer service and is ready to deliver it. Excellent applicants can provide one example of going "the extra mile" in solving a problem, according to the Penn State University Libraries' interview guidelines. Average or poor candidates struggle to give similar anecdotes, and show little or no sign that they'll take initiative in helping others.

How Do You Handle Angry or Disgruntled Customers?

All companies face irate customers who threaten to go elsewhere. If you're applying for a customer service job, the interviewer will ask how you might respond. Smart candidates stress a willingness to listen calmly and offer resolutions that fall within company guidelines, "The Mudgood Job Journal" states. If the customer remains dissatisfied, finish your answer by saying that you'd have to politely -- but firmly -- deny the request.

How Do You Respond in Stressful Situations?

Staying composed in stressful situations is important in good customer service. For example, an interviewer might want to know how a receptionist applicant deals with questions that she can't answer immediately. In response, you'd indicate familiarity with corporate policies and procedures as the first resource for helping the patron, according to the University of Iowa. If that response doesn't work, you'd mention going to your supervisor for further guidance.

How Do You Stay Upbeat on a Bad Day?

Every employee has personal problems that shouldn't affect his ability to interact positively with co-workers and customers. An outstanding candidate's response will show an ability to focus on patrons' needs, regardless of personal frustrations, Penn State's guidelines suggest. Average applicants focus more on the problem than the customer's needs. Poor applicants will either duck the question or suggest a desire to minimize personal interactions on bad days.

What Happened When You Didn't Give Great Service?

Sometimes a situation isn't resolved, despite your best efforts, or a customer still walks way dissatisfied. By asking this question, an interviewer wants to know if you could have resolved the situation differently. Excellent candidates stand out above average ones by showing problem-solving abilities that also take patrons' needs into account, Penn State's guidelines indicate. A poor applicant will be unable to suggest any solution, or blame the problem on the customer.

About the Author

Ralph Heibutzki's articles have appeared in the "All Music Guide," "Goldmine," "Guitar Player" and "Vintage Guitar." He is also the author of "Unfinished Business: The Life & Times Of Danny Gatton," and holds a journalism degree from Michigan State University.

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