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How to Answer
The interviewer wants to know that you can handle stressful or uncomfortable situations in a professional manner. Keep your answer simple and precise. Stay away from long drawn out stories. Briefly, describe a time when you resolved a customer service issue. Highlight your ability to remain patient and rational.
"I worked in a retail customer care center and had to navigate angry customer experiences more times than I would have liked. People who are upset want to be heard and respected. I would listen, empathize and reassure the customer that I am there to support them and resolve the matter. Communication and reassurance are important throughout the process. If I needed to check on an order or get back to the customer, I would set expectations to explain what I was doing and when they would hear back. I am proud to say that I have successfully turned more detractors into promoters than anyone else in our organization."
"As an Administrative Assistant, I address angry customers on a daily basis. They are upset about being asked to hold. When this happens, I 'kill them with kindness' but profusely thanking them for their patience and letting them know they now have my full attention. I would say this method works 99% of the time."
"I once was a customer service manager at a call center. I had many angry customer calls, but one, in particular, I remember well. The customer had ordered a dish set, but when it arrived, it was missing half the pieces. She had unfortunately set on hold with us for over 30 minutes waiting to be helped and was irate when I told her that our policy was that she had to send the entire order back, then we would issue a refund, and she could reorder it. She just wanted us to ship the missing pieces. She ended up getting a refund and did NOT reorder from us. She likely never will again. I did make sure she received her refund, and I spoke with our corporate head office about the long wait times and the possibility of changing our return policies. It was not a good situation, but I made the best of it."
"Just last week, a customer called our design team because he was unhappy with a particular design we were creating for him. I reassured him that we would modify the design to his liking before finalizing the project. We spoke further and, in the end, I realized he was feeling uncomfortable not being a part of the decision-making every step of the way. With any customer complaint I remain patient, listen to their concerns, and reassure the customer we would do anything within reason to satisfy their requests."
"A specific instance relates to the rollout of our new return policy, and for the first time, we requested an ID when making a return without a receipt. One customer, after being asked for ID for a return assumed it was a race issue, and she was irate. I had to intervene with the very frazzled employee and take a step back, explain the "why" of the new policy, and ensure her it has zero to do with her, but was a company-wide, country-wide policy. After taking time to hear her concerns, validate why she would be upset, and explain it all in context, she happily handed over her ID and returned and thanked me for my patience with her explosion."
"A client was delivered a damaged piece of goods that we sold him. For a $30,000 piece of inventory, he was understandably agitated. Within five minutes of receiving an irate email, I hopped on the phone with him to address the issue. I had my COO and Director of Operations, who handles problem resolution, in the room so he would feel that the issue was being taken care of by upper management. Through a 10-minute conversation, not only did we resolve his issue, buy back the piece of inventory, and have pick-up arranged for that very afternoon. We also piloted a new program with him to take the balance sheet risk off of him, which pleased him. So much, in fact, that he committed to buying another five pieces of inventory that same week."
"I had a parent that was upset that their child experienced exclusion from Spanish class. This exclusion was due to their IEP and special services scheduling. The student went to speech and social work during my Spanish class. This fact didn't stop the parent from showing frustration with me, so I was sure to find time to sit down and speak with her, and show that I heard her frustration. I asked our principal to join us, and we were able to figure out a better schedule for the following semester that would allow her child to attend Spanish class as well as have his minutes in speech and social work per his IEP. By showing I understood her frustration and was willing to work with her, she immediately softened and was thrilled that we were so receptive to her concerns."