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Tell me about a time you handled an incredibly difficult client. How did you come to a resolution with this person?

1 of 15 Scenario Based Interview Questions and Answers Written by Rachelle Enns

Updated on June 29th, 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

The interviewer would like to know more about the way in which you handle challenging clients and customers. Remaining level-headed and staying professional is what the interviewer is looking for in your example. Talk about a time when your excellent communication skills allowed you to handle a difficult client. If you haven’t had an experience with a problematic client, explain how you would feel out the situation if it were to happen.

Professional Answer Examples
General
Answer example

"In my current position I am faced with challenging clients on a daily basis. I seem to always come to a good resolution by using my gift of gab. I ask questions and actively listen. A recent example would be when a very unhappy customer called in, wanting to speak with the manager. Our manager was away, and I was the only employee around. By listening and accepting responsibility for the company's actions, I was able to calm her down. We came to a solution that was great for everyone, and I was sure to follow up with her actively."

Admin
Answer example

"I often get challenging customers on the phone, demanding to speak with the owner of the company. He is often traveling, and I have to tell them that he is unavailable. When I have an especially worked up customer, I kill them with kindness! It works nearly every time. I am understanding, and let their words wash off like they are nothing. I offer solutions such as email communication, leaving a voicemail, and more. All while remaining calm and kind."

Manager
Answer example

"I have a major client who complains about his delivery every month, like clockwork. Usually, they are petty complaints and will have more to do with delivery service than our actual product. I kept note of the complaints and then read them back to him after about six months. I let him know that I have narrowed the bulk of his issues with the courier we used and gave him the option of three new couriers. Because he chose the new courier, I think he felt included in the process and heard. The complaints stopped for the most part."

Marketing
Answer example

"I worked on a project recently where the client had very unrealistic expectations and deadlines. She fully expected me to completely change her business around in just 30 days of a social media marketing campaign. I let her know that most customers see the biggest change 90 days or more into the strategy. She was livid and fired our agency. I didn't argue with her; I just gave her facts. She ended up coming back to us as a few days later when she heard the same thing from multiple other agencies, after shopping around. I am happy that I stuck to my ground and was consistent with the information, giving her realistic expectations."

Retail
Answer example

"The best example would be regarding our store's return policy. It's absurd, but we used to take back anything. No tags, clearly worn, etc. No problem. We have to return it and show no judgment. Our policy only slightly changed, just that the refund was limited to store credit and we needed to scan their ID so that they could only return a certain amount per customer in any six month period. Still an incredibly lenient policy. All that to say, we had a customer bring in a coat that had naturally weathered several winters and indeed had salt stains on it. I was responsible for its return. I asked her what she remembered paying for it, and as I went to refund her via a gift card for $250, I asked for her ID. She was livid. How dare I request her identification, and the complaints continued. Our manager was away, and I was the shift leader, so I had no one to assist. I calmly explained the new policy and asked her questions about her feelings and frustrations. I sincerely apologized for making her feel embarrassed and explained the rationale behind the system, making sure she was clear it was company-wide and not targeting her. She felt heard and eventually recognized the leniency of the previous and current policy and happily accepted her gift card. She ultimately complimented me to senior management for how I handled her and the situation as a whole."

Sales
Answer example

"I had a client call saying that we delivered a defective piece of merchandise valued at over $30k. Understandably, he was livid. He was threatening to stop doing business with us. This customer was one of my best customers, previously, so it was a rough phone call. I immediately took responsibility and asked pointed questions to try to get to the root of what was defective about the item, and assured him over and over that we would make it right. I went into a conference room, bringing the COO and Director of Operations with me, and we all assured him how we valued his business and would be sure to make it right. Not only that, we would put steps in place to ensure this type of thing did not slip through our QA again. Ultimately, we had a satisfied customer who went on to grow in business volume and praised how we remedied the situation."

Teacher
Answer example

"In an IEP meeting, we had a parent who was incredibly resistant to any of the suggestions we were making. We always anticipate that the parent will be sensitive, emotionally charged, and perhaps even angry, but this parent was fighting every single thing we said, even when it was complimenting the actions of their child. I was forthcoming with my concerns as a parent on the other side of the table since I was hoping to bond with her as a parent without crossing any boundaries or lines of professionalism. With being open about having my own son's IEP, she softened and became more receptive to suggestions regarding her son, and we ended up with a somewhat productive IEP writing session."

Bank Compliance Officer
Answer example

"An example of a situation with a difficult customer is (X situation) when working as a/an (X position title) for (X company). (.... X details regarding the situation and how you respectfully and successfully handled the situation). I always remain calm and professional as I must ensure to adequately represent the company at all times. I calmly listen to the customer, and then do my very best to assist him/her in a timely fashion. Should I be unable to solve his/her issues, I immediately get in touch with my superior, or a more experienced colleague should my supervisor be unavailable."

Telephone Operators
Answer example

"I would remain calm and professional as I must ensure to adequately represent the company at all times. I would calmly listen to the customer, and then would do my very best to assist him/her in a timely fashion. Should I be unable to solve his/her issues, I would immediately get in touch with my superior, or a more experienced colleague should my supervisor be unavailable. An example of a situation with a difficult client is (X situation) when working as a/an (X position title) for (X company). (.... X details regarding the situation and how you respectfully and successfully handled the situation)."

Optician
Answer example

"

Travel Agent
Answer example

"The customer always is right"

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.
First written on: 10/17/2016
Last modified on: 06/29/2018

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