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How would you help a customer who you found difficult to understand, due to a language barrier?

1 of 25 Customer Service Interview Questions and Answers Written by Rachelle Enns

Written on August 17th, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
How to Answer

Language barriers can be a challenge, primarily if you work in the customer service industry where delivery of expectations is everything.

Here are a few ways that you can overcome a language barrier:

- Use simple-to-understand language
- Use visuals when communicating
- Repeat the essential parts of the conversation
- Remain patient and respectful

Show the interviewer that you can remain professional, even when a situation may not be as simple or easy to get through, as you would like.

Professional Answer Examples
Answer example

"If I had a customer who was challenging to understand I would make sure to repeat the most important parts of the conversation; whether that be one sentence or a single word. It's important to me that my customers clearly understand what I am offering, and that I clearly understand how I can meet their needs."

Answer example

"I have taken many phone calls in my administration career and have spoken to many people whose native language is not my own. I like to slow the conversation down and then I will follow up with an email to ensure clarity and that we are on the same page. Sometimes reading an email is easier than a verbal conversation when a language barrier is present."

Answer example

"When I have customers who do not speak the same language as I do or are culturally very different from me, I ask them questions and then carefully dig deep until I know that we are on the same page."

Answer example

"If I have a customer who is challenging to understand I will send them our intake questionnaire for them to fill out at their own pace. By allowing someone room to think, I am giving them the space they need to be better communicators. This added time and less pressure can create a much clearer working relationship."

Answer example

"I feel that visuals often help when the language barrier is strong. If a customer is looking for a specific garment, for instance, I will ask to see pictures, or I will bring pictures up on the store's directory or website. It's amazing what a simple nod of the head, yes or no, can do."

Answer example

"Repeat, repeat, repeat! This rule is one that I live by when it comes to communicating with customers of all types. I will take the parts of our conversation and repeat them until I am 100% confident that we are communicating as well as possible."

Written by:

Rachelle Enns
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace. Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career. Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise. Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
Published: 08/17/2018
*Specific career answer examples vary on published date
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