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."
"I'm not bothered anymore by rude or angry passengers. My experience as a cab driver in a heavily-populated area has taught me how to deal with frustrations brought about by traffic, the rush hour, and other emergencies."
"One time, there was a woman who was complaining that she didn't get her order yet and that she had been waiting for 40 minutes. She was really yelling at the top of her lungs, which naturally stressed me and my staff out. I stayed calm though and reminded myself that nobody should have to wait that long and that I wouldn't want my mother waiting that long. I apologized to her and asked her what the problem was. I acknowledged that it should never have happened, and then I gave her what she needed. On top of that, I gave her a credit on her next order, that way she'll be encouraged to come back and give us another chance to give her good service."
"As a nurse in the pain clinic, we had a patient in one day that was demanding more narcotics for her pain. She had walked in to the clinic without an appointment to demand another prescription. As the only nurse in a small clinic that day, I sat the patient down to talk to them. I used a calm voice and listened to what they were asking for. After listening, I explained that I would need to check their records for their last prescription and speak with the attending physician in the clinic that day. After seeing that their last prescription was written many months ago and the patient had missed their last appointment, I was able to talk to the physician to get another prescription written. Once prescribed, I explained to the patient how it was important for them to keep their regularly scheduled appointments and she walked away happy."
"One time, a customer was yelling and cursing about how it was taking too long for his turn to be accommodated. I knew that his behavior was due to frustration so I didn't take it personally. Instead, I apologized and gave him the opportunity to reschedule. He declined, so I offered him refreshments and books to read to keep his mind off waiting. He later apologized for his behavior and thanked me for being considerate. When it comes to handling unhappy customers, I believe it's always important to keep your cool, be friendly, and try to see things from the customer's perspective"