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Behavioral Interview
Questions

| Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.

Question 1 of 30

Tell me about a time when you had to address an angry customer. What was the problem and how did you resolve it?

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Behavioral Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    Tell me about a time when you had to address an angry customer. What was the problem and how did you resolve it?

      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.

      Behavioral-based interview questions that begin with 'Tell me about a time...' are best answered using the STAR method. STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Organizing your response using this framework will ensure that you provide the interviewer with the right amount of information and detail to form a compelling answer.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "(Situation) Last year, I worked in a retail customer care center of a company with many service complaints. (Task) As a Customer Care Representative, I had to navigate angry customer experiences more times than I would have liked. (Action) To cope, I took the stance that 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. 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. (Result) I am proud to say that I successfully turned more detractors into promoters than anyone else in that organization."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Admin interview

      "(Situation) In my current role, I address angry customers daily. (Task) As an Administrative Assistant, I often encounter people who are upset about being asked to hold. (Action) When this happens, I 'kill them with kindness' by profusely thanking them for their patience and letting them know they now have my full attention. (Result) I would say this communication approach works 99% of the time."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Manager interview

      "(Situation) I once worked at a call center that took high volumes of client disputes. (Task) As the Call Centre Manager, I took many escalations from angry customers. (Action) I remember one instance quite well. The customers' order was missing items. When I told her that our policy was to send the order back for a refund, she blew up. She just wanted us to ship the missing pieces. I decided to comply, as it was not worth upsetting her further. (Result) The customer ended up getting a refund in the end and was satisfied. After this situation, I spoke with our corporate head office about the possibility of changing our return policies."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Marketing interview

      "(Situation) Just last week, a customer called our design team because he was unhappy with a particular design we were creating for him. (Task) As the Marketing Manager, it was up to me to fix the situation. (Action) I called the client and reassured him that we would modify the design to his liking before finalizing the project. After we spoke further, I realized he was feeling uncomfortable, not being a part of the decision-making every step of the way. I remained patient, listened to his concerns, and reassure him that we would satisfy his requests. (Result) As a result of the conversation, we were back on track and delivered a stellar design in the end."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Retail interview

      "(Situation) One specific instance relates to the rollout of my current employers' new return policy. (Task) As a cashier, I had to request identification from any customer making a return without a receipt. (Action) One customer became irate after being asked for ID. She assumed it was a race issue. I took a step back and explained the 'why; of the new policy, and assured her it was a new company-wide policy. (Result) After taking the time to hear her concerns, validate why she would be upset, and explain it all in context, she handed over her ID and apologized for her explosion."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Sales interview

      "(Situation) Recently, a client was delivered a damaged piece of goods that we sold him. For a $30,000 piece of inventory, he was understandably agitated. (Task) As his Key Account Manager, it was up to me to turn the situation around. (Action) Within five minutes of receiving his angry email, I hopped on the phone with him to address the issue. I had my COO and Director of Operations in the room, so he would feel that the issue was being taken care of by upper management. (Result) Through a 10-minute conversation, we resolved his issue, bought back the piece of inventory, and had a pick-up arranged for that very afternoon. The client was so happy with our proactive approach that he committed to buying another five pieces of inventory that same week."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Teacher interview

      "(Situation) Last year, I had a parent upset that their child experienced exclusion from Spanish class. (Task) As the primary Spanish teacher, the parent chose to come to me. (Action) I looked into the situation and found that the exclusion was due to the students' 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, as well. (Result) We were able to figure out a better schedule for the following semester that would allow her child to attend Spanish class. By showing that I understood her frustration and was willing to work with her, she softened and was thrilled that we were so receptive to her concerns."

      Ryan's Answer
       for a Taxi Drivers interview

      "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, personal emergencies, or intoxication."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Shift Leader interview

      "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."

      Elisabeth's Answer
       for a Wildland Firefighter interview

      "I would handle an irate citizen by remaining calm and listening to what they had to say. If they were irate in the middle of an emergency, I would first insist that we get to a safe place and I would talk with them after. If I were unable to appease them, I would refer them to my supervisor."

      Elisabeth's Answer
       for a Nursing interview

      "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 into 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."

      Darby's Answer
       for a Travel Nurse interview

      "I did a lot of research on different travel nurse companies and started
      following some social media blogs for travel nurses. I was able to read other nurse's
      Stories about their experiences. Many of them gave tips for getting started. I am so glad
      I decided to become a travel nurse!"

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Receptionist interview

      "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"

      Ryan's Answer
       for a Ticket Agent interview

      "I would remain calm and professional, keeping in mind that I represent the company at all times. I would calmly listen to the passenger so they have a chance to be heard and then would do my very best to assist them in a timely fashion. Should I be unable to solve their issues, I would immediately get in touch with my supervisor or a more experienced colleague, should my supervisor be unavailable. In my current job, I had to handle a very disgruntled client who came into our office claiming we sold a faulty product that caused quite a bit of damage to his vehicle. Because of the customer service training I have received, I remained very calm and carefully listened to what he was saying. When he was done, I set forth a plan of action to get him in touch with the manufacturer of the product to see what could be done, and the customer was happy with that approach. I know that my ability to hear him out and remain calm helped diffuse that situation."

      Ryan's Answer
       for a Human Resources interview

      "All companies have challenging associates and I have had my fair share. In my current role, we had one associate who behaved unprofessionally and it brought down the team. I partnered with their manager to implement a performance improvement plan and take measures for corrective behavioral action. We intended to guide and help the associate to turn their behavior around. It's important that we uphold company standards and ethics across the board. Unfortunately, this associate was unable to do so within our 30-day timeline, and arranged for the associate's termination."

      Ryan's Answer
       for a School Counselor interview

      "I will first ask the parent to calm down. After the parent calms down, I shall ask for his/her concern so I can start addressing them. It is important that during the discussion, I empathize with them and tell them that I understand where they are coming from yet still making sure that all their concerns are addressed truthfully and accordingly. However, if the parent does not calm down, I will respectfully but sternly communicate that being angry will not solve anything and so he/she has to calm down so we can discuss the matter as how mature adults should."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Bank Teller interview

      "When lines are long, I like to ensure that everyone on the teller line has a smile on their face and apologizes for the delay when the customer gets to the counter. Most of the time, a friendly greeting and recognition of the inconvenience are enough."

      Ryan's Answer
       for a Veterinarian School interview

      "I would always calmly explain to them, in as simple language as possible, how the issue can be solved. To rectify the problem, I will need to evaluate their concerns and what went wrong. If the issue is beyond my control, I will not hesitate to ask those in authority to help the customer address the problem."

      Cassandra's Answer
       for a Coach interview

      "After a game when a parent approaches me that is clearly upset and is concerned about playing time, I generally ask them to set up a meeting with the player and myself for after practice. I like letting after one cool down prior to having the conversations because I believe it makes everyone more level-headed."

      Anonymous Answer

      "The product wasn't delivered on time, and the patient went without their meds for several days. The problem was logistics because the pharmacy that provided it was several states away, and there was a snowstorm to boot. While there was nothing I could do about the snowstorm, there was something I could do about finding a local pharmacy to prevent this from ever happening again. I did so and quickly."

      Rachelle's Answer

      You took fast action, and potentially saved someone's life in the meantime! Good thinking.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (0) or No (1)
      Anonymous Answer

      "Living in Buffalo, NY, with the winters being crazy, a few times, customers did not receive their shipments when expected due to weather. This made customers very angry due to potential loss in business. I handled these problems by going to talk to the customer, face to face, and offering a discount on the order to make them happy. The customers are what make our business work, so we need to keep them happy for our business to be successful. They were pleased with the discounts and continued to do business with us."

      Rachelle's Answer

      It seems your customer service approach is a very friendly and helpful one.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "I talk to customers a lot, and one of the times that they get frustrated is when they are waiting for a callback. We are specialized in our department so I can't help someone with Gas Chromatograph calls, which I don't know anything about. Those calls take a while for the technicians to complete. We have customers that want help faster, and there is not anything I can do about it. I apologize to them, empathize with them, and try to get them a call as soon as I can."

      Kristine's Answer

      Excellent answer! Your response will show your interviewer you have patience and strong communication skills.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "Thinking back, there was a time when a customer/project manager was upset with me, this was because a couple of projects were not going well. I first listen to the issue, then moved forward asking if they would allow me to evaluate the project. I reported back to the project manager and explained that the contractor was not following the design and seemed to be jumping around which was why the project was also taking a little longer. I offer my assistance by assisting the contractor progress through the project. That saved my relationship with the project manager."

      Rachelle's Answer

      This example is good! It shows that you are able to communicate and troubleshoot. I have reworded your response slightly, to help with flow.

      "While working for (company name), one particular customer and project manager was upset with me because a couple of projects were not going well. I first listened to the issue, then moved forward asking if they would allow me to evaluate the project. I reported back to the project manager and explained that the contractor was not following the design and seemed to be jumping around, which was why the project was also taking a little longer. I offered my assistance by aiding the contractor's progress through the project. That solution saved my relationship with the project manager."

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "I had the customer who was mad because her blood pressure medicine wasn't ready, and she didn't have any more medication. The medicine was on backorder for a few months, and we couldn't order it from a different warehouse. I asked her if it was ok to call her Dr to ask if we could split it since it was a combo. She gave me the ok, and I called her Drs office to split it. In the end, she was happy to receive her prescriptions."

      Rachelle's Answer

      It sounds as though you came up with a great solution that worked well for everyone. The interviewer should appreciate the fact that you worked hard to find a solution rather than just turning the customer away.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "A customer wants cigarettes and he looks below 25 years old. To make sure he is not a minor I asked for id. He got angry and said; do I look like a kid? I am old enough, look at my beard, etc.. I politely told him, it is the store's policy that we asked for id who looks like below 25, and I pointed to the sticker we had in the store; show id, please. He still argues and again I explain to him, sir, I can't sell you until I am sure that you are not minor. And finally, I told him, selling cigarettes to minors is illegal and prohibited by law. Finally, he understood and went to his car to get his license."

      Rachelle's Answer

      You handled yourself well, but not giving in and standing your ground! Good answer. I have shortened it up a bit, to help with clarity and flow.

      "While working at {store name}, I had a customer come in to purchase cigarettes, who looked below the age of 25. I asked for ID, and he yelled at me, asking if I thought he looked like a kid, etc. I calmly explained to him that it was the law for me to ID anyone who looks under the age of 25. I committed to my stance, and he finally settled down and went to his car to grab his license."

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "I was working in the pharmacy and a patient called and asked if his prescription was ready. I looked at the patient's profile and the prescription was not ready. The patient replied by saying he called three days ago to order the medication; however, this order was not documented in our system. The patient was very upset. I took it upon myself to search every pharmacy in the area to find a pharmacy that had the medication, and I was able to transfer the medication to the pharmacy. The patient was able to get their medication that day."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Great work - you jumped in and repaired the situation as quickly and actively as you could. When you tell your story-based examples, be sure to include as many engaging details as possible while also giving the story some breathing room (clear, concise sentences will help your interviewer follow along with ease).

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "When I was a reseller at a bookstore I learned how to handle different types of customers in both stressful and calm environments. For example, when it was during Christmas time and many wanted to buy books as presents we needed to say customers to wrap their presents by themselves because of our time limitation due to the number of customers. The result was, of course, some angry customers who thought it was bad service. My approach was then to handle these customers by telling them that we have not resourced to wrap and handle all the customers these days, that if we would do that the queue would be even longer and many customers prefer to wrap their presents by themselves instead of wait in line for a longer time. The result was usually good because they calm down because they understood the situation and by comparing to a worse case if we would have done it in another way, they understood and agreed that this was the best approach right now."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Try to keep your answer more brief with less repetition.

      "I once worked at a bookstore over the holidays. We did not offer gift-wrapping, which angered a lot of the customers. When approached, I patiently let the customers know that we were not set up for gift-wrapping. I pointed out that if we did offer gift wrapping, the line would take even longer, making customers wait for their turn. Most of the customers understood the situation and were happier to take a shorter wait time in line."

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "I work with customers every day and have learned the most effective way for me to resolve their issue is to listen to them first. I listen to customers and reassure them that I am there to resolve there issue in any way. Customers who are upset want to be heard, and I am there for them to vent to. I also like to frequently communicate with them throughout the process to keep them well informed and ensure that I have resolved their issue."

      Rachelle's Answer

      You offer a good introduction and qualifying statement; however, be sure with 'Tell me about a time' style questions to give a specific example using STAR.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "I had a student who was not allowed to the workshop because he did not have all the safety equipment that was required. I could see the student was angry as he would miss the practical training for the day. I explained to the student the importance of the health and safety issues for our vocational program and that we cannot have him take any risk that would lead to serious injury. I gave him an alternative option that he could join the other group by attending the theory class. The student was satisfied with my solution."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Concise answer, and very good example. Great work!

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No