It can be easy to overlook this question, especially if you are applying for a job that is not directly related to customer service, but the interviewer includes it for a reason. “Customer service skills” are also the skills you use when you have to deal with someone else putting their concerns over yours, and they show how you deal with unfamiliar people who might be upset.
Your choice about how to respond also tells the interviewer what you consider to be exceptional or worth mentioning when you think about helping others, so try to pick something that really does stand out.
When you are talking about exceptional customer service, there are a few key ideas to include in your response.
Show how you identified the customer’s primary concern and acknowledged it.
Make sure the answer you give highlights your communication skills as you worked through the problem.
Discuss any problem-solving the situation required and show how you worked for the customer to resolve issues.
The end point to the story should be a win-win situation if at all possible. At the least, make sure it shows how your resolution was the best one for both the customer and the company.
If you can follow through with all four points, you will have everything covered.
These mis-steps can distract the interviewer, and in some cases they will result in omitting important information.
Never complain about the customer. If the issue was challenging, make it about the issue.
Do not talk about breaking company policy or bending the rules.
Avoid talking about customer service issues that paint your previous employer in a bad light if possible.
Be careful when discussing compromises, so that you don’t accidentally emphasize the negative aspects of the negotiation.
By keeping yourself focused on demonstrating your own skills and remembering that the customer is the key to a business’s success, you can easily avoid anything that might distract an interviewer or reflect poorly on your performance.
A full response to the prompt might look something like this:
When I was still fairly new, a long-time client had miscommunicated with us about a meeting change, and showed up when there was no one scheduled to meet with them. I contacted my supervisor and began taking notes about the customer’s situation to help streamline the process, providing my supervisor with the information needed to quickly address the customer’s concerns.
The key to this answer is to show how you facilitate positive outcomes. Get there, and you’ll give the interviewers what they need.