Scenario Based Mock Interview

To help you prepare for your next job interview, here are 20 situational interview questions with answer examples.

Scenario Based was written by and updated on March 16th, 2022. Learn more here.

Question 1 of 20

What would you do if an angry customer confronted you?

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Advice and Examples: What would you do if an angry customer confronted you?

  1. 1.

    What would you do if an angry customer confronted you?

      The Goal

      The interviewer wants to know that you can handle customers who come to you with challenging emotions. The goal of your response is to show that you can remain level-headed and stay professional if ever confronted by an angry customer. The interviewer also wants evidence that you are solution-focused when faced with customer-related disputes or grievances.

      What to Avoid

      Avoid giving an answer that shows you have a short fuse or weak conflict-management skills. For instance, avoid saying something like, 'If an angry customer confronted me, I would immediately call security or escalate the situation to my manager.' Instead, show that you would take the time to get to the issue's core and de-escalate the situation through intelligent communication and problem-solving.

      Pro Tip

      The interviewer wants to know your reaction if an angry customer approaches you for a solution. Because this question is positioned as, 'What would you do if...,' you can respond hypothetically. The Situation, Solution, Benefit formula is helpful in this instance.

      Step 1) Situation: Express your understanding of the hypothetical situation.
      Step 2) Solution: Outline the solution you would introduce in this hypothetical situation.
      Step 3) Benefit: Highlight how your approach to resolving the customer conflict will benefit the hiring company.

      How to Answer

      Since this scenario-based question is hypothetical, consider what you would do if you had to handle a confrontation with an angry customer. Using the Situation, Solution, Benefit formula, describe how you would de-escalate the situation. Outline how you would come to a solution that appeased the customer and the company. Be sure to highlight your excellent communication skills and ability to deliver creative customer service solutions under pressure. Assure the interviewer that you are a professional who can handle potentially uncomfortable customer-facing situations.

      Suppose you have encountered an angry customer in the past. In that case, you can use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to provide a story-based example to support your initial Situation, Solution, Benefit response.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "(Situation) I understand the importance of creating exceptional customer experiences. A significant part of delivering these memorable experiences is expertly handling angry customers. (Solution) If an angry customer confronted me, I would take it as an opportunity to turn the negative situation into a positive customer experience. I would proactively listen to them by concentrating on what they had to say and actively gaining a clear understanding of why they were upset. I would genuinely work to understand the upsetting emotions behind their concern. Then, I would present a resolution that resolved those negative emotions. (Benefit) By being present and giving the customer my undivided attention, they know they are supporting a company that actively listens and values the relationship.

      (Option: follow up with a story-based example using the STAR method) In my current position, I face challenging clients daily. I often come to a resolution by asking questions and actively listening. A recent example would be when an unhappy customer called in to speak with the manager. Our manager was away, and I was the only employee available to help. By listening and accepting responsibility for the company's actions, I was able to calm the customer down. We came to a solution that was great for everyone. The following day I followed up with the customer to ensure they were still satisfied and would retain their loyalty."

      Rachelle's Retail Example Answer

      "(Situation) Delivering happiness to an angry customer is certainly not an easy task; however, it's an essential skill to have while working in a retail environment. (Solution) If approached by an upset customer, I would apologize for the problem they were experiencing. By acknowledging their feelings and taking ownership through an apology, I would show that I understood and aimed to solve their frustration. (Benefit) It's clear that Company ABC values its customers. If hired, you can rest assured that I would deliver this value through genuine and thorough accountability in any customer dispute.

      (Option: follow up with a story-based example using the STAR method) One example of my approach in action was when my current company changed our return policy. We started offering store credit for returns over 30 days rather than a refund. Before this change, the store maintained an incredibly lenient return policy, which customers sometimes took advantage of. On the day of the policy change, a customer brought in a coat with excessive wear. I was responsible for handling the return. I offered the customer a store credit explaining that due to the sale being more than 30 days past, I could not provide a refund on her credit card. She became immediately angry and said, how dare I lie to her - this was not our store policy, and she knew it. I calmly outlined the new policy and asked open-ended questions about her feelings and frustrations. I sincerely apologized for making her feel upset. I carefully explained the rationale behind our new return policy, ensuring she was clear it was company-wide policy, and I was not targeting her specifically. The customer felt heard and eventually recognized the reasoning behind the policy change. In the end, she accepted her store credit and apologized for causing a scene."

      Rachelle's Sales Example Answer

      "(Situation) Especially in the sales space, customer expectations are incredibly high. For that reason, it's critical that I can handle an angry customer with the utmost professionalism. (Solution) If an angry customer confronted me, I would empathize with their feelings. Showing empathy doesn't mean that I would entirely agree with the customer. Rather, it means showing that I understand their feelings and can relate to them on a personal level. As a result, the customer would feel respected and heard. (Benefit) By showing empathy toward an angry customer, I can de-escalate issues and ensure that Company ABC's customers are retained regardless of the hiccups that we may face along the way.

      (Option: follow up with a story-based example using the STAR method) For instance, I recently had a customer call me saying that our company delivered a defective piece of merchandise. He was threatening to stop doing business with us. This customer was one of my biggest accounts, and I had to make the situation right. I immediately took responsibility and asked open-ended questions to get to the root of the issue. I brought the COO and Director of Operations into the call, and we all assured the customer that we valued his business and would make the situation right. We also agreed to introduce new steps to ensure this situation did not slip through our quality assurance ever again. Ultimately, we had a satisfied customer who praised how we remedied the situation."

      Rachelle's Teacher Example Answer

      "(Situation) As a teacher, I consider the parents and guardians of my students to be the 'customer.' With school environments ever-changing, I must provide parents and guardians with the utmost diligence in communication, especially if a dispute arises. (Solution) If approached by an angry parent or guardian, I would maintain a calm demeanor even if it was tempting to match their tone. I would avoid any aggressive or blaming language and filter anything that might seem harsh. Also, I would frequently use the person's name in the conversation as this is a proven strategy for de-escalating a heated discussion. (Benefit) Using the person's name during a heated moment while maintaining a calm demeanor shows that I care. This approach aligns with the core of School ABC's goals - to maintain a safe and caring learning environment for the students and our community.

      (Option: follow up with a story-based example using the STAR method) Recently, in an IEP meeting, I met with a parent who was incredibly resistant to any suggestions I made. I anticipated that this parent would be sensitive and perhaps even angry based on previous encounters. This parent argued with every recommendation I made on their child's learning plan. I was forthcoming yet very calm and kind. I started using the parent's name in my sentences and expressed that my child was on an IEP, so I understood their concern and sensitivity. After a few minutes, the parent softened and became more receptive to my suggestions regarding their child's learning plan. We ended up with a productive IEP writing session."

      Rachelle's Admin Example Answer

      "(Situation) In an administrator role, I am often the first person a customer faces. For this reason, I must know how to handle unpredictable customer needs or behaviors. (Solution) If an angry customer came to me, I would focus on repairing the damage and rebuilding trust. Regardless of the cause, I would apologize and own up to the mistake. I would use wording such as, 'Let me find a solution for you,' and 'I will make sure this situation is resolved.' (Benefit) By handling the angry customer with positive language, I can tame the situation rather than add aggression. This approach will benefit Company ABC since less time is spent arguing about who is right and more time goes to rebuilding positive customer relationships.

      (Option: follow up with a story-based example using the STAR method) I often get challenging customers on the phone, demanding to speak with the company's owner. The company owner frequently travels, and I have to tell the customers that he is unavailable. When I have an especially worked-up customer, I remain kind and helpful. I am understanding and let the customers' anger wash off, never taking the situation personally. I offer solutions rather than problems while remaining calm and kind."

      Rachelle's Manager Example Answer

      "(Situation) As a manager, I must be prepared to keep our customers happy and deliver delightful experiences. Despite our best efforts, there will be roadblocks with customers. (Solution) If I had an angry customer approach me, I would steer the conversation to be more positive by avoiding negative language or matching their angry tone. I would use words like, 'Yes,' and 'Most certainly,' rather than 'I don't know,' or 'No, we can't do that.' I would also jump to resolve the issue immediately by collaborating with the customer to resolve the issue. (Benefit) Making the customer part of the solution ensures we productively get to the end goal. My approach saves a lot of time on disputes and provides better customer collaboration moving forward.

      (Option: follow up with a story-based example using the STAR method) For instance, I have a major client who complains about his monthly delivery, like clockwork. Usually, they are mild complaints about our third-party delivery service than our actual product. I keep note of his complaints, and then the following month, when he calls again, I show him the action steps we took to resolve his previous concern. Because he feels heard and included in the resolution, we maintain an amicable relationship."

      Rachelle's Marketing Example Answer

      "(Situation) Experiencing an angry customer is a difficult situation; however, it's often unavoidable since we don't know what will trigger people to become upset. Although I cannot control outside forces that might cause a customer to become angry, I can control how I respond. (Solution) If an angry customer came to me, I would use the situation as a teachable moment. I have found that in this industry, some customers become angry because they don't understand what we do. by sharing knowledge with the customer about our process and workflow, I can often change the customers' experience. (Benefit) The benefit of my approach is that upset customers feel like they are part of the process. The teaching opportunity is two ways, as the customer also feels that our team can learn from them. This results in a much stronger agency-to-customer collaboration, one factor that I understand is important to Agency ABC.

      (Option: follow up with a story-based example using the STAR method) I recently worked on a project where the client had unrealistic expectations and deadlines. She fully expected me to completely change her business around in just 30 days with a social media marketing campaign. I let her know that most customers see the most significant 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 a few days later when she heard the same thing from multiple other agencies. I am happy that I stood my ground and was consistent with my information - helping her to form realistic expectations."

      2 Community Answers

      Anonymous interview answers with our interview experts feedback

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "I had a client who knew what he wanted and how I should build it. I personally didn't think that would work and I gave him my suggestion. I explained why I felt this would work better. He would not budge and had a good argument. I asked if we could try it both ways and test each scenario out for the best outcome."

      Kevin's Feedback for the Answer Above

      This is a wonderful example, but you can make your answer even more impactful by sharing more detail. What did he want you to build? How did your approaches or designs vary from each other? Did you end up building and testing both in order to choose? Finally, tell what the positive outcome was and how the client was pleased with your work.

      "I had a client who knew what he wanted and had opinions on how I should build it. I didn’t share their opinion that their suggestions were the best way to move forward. I offered an alternate approach. I felt I communicated this effectively, but the client believed, with conviction, theirs was the best course forward. I was amicable, validating their opinion, with an understanding of why they wanted to proceed this way. I then asked if they’d be open to trying it both ways, testing the outcome of each. This way, I was able to ensure they felt they were being cared for according to the integrity of our brand. This also made them more receptive to alternate suggestions in the future and fostered a more collaborative and trusting relationship moving forward."

      How would you rate Kevin's Feedback?

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "Working in customer service, and tech support I've had this happen quite often. I've learned to ensure to listen to the customer's experience and needs, be apologetic and use an empathic tone, and repeat their needs back so they feel ensured that they're heard. I would use verbiage that would allow them to know I am focused on resolving the issue for them for the best outcome. I have never had a problem diffusing situations like this and turning them into a win-win situation for the company and customer as long as the customer is not asking me to go against company policy."

      Marcie's Feedback for the Answer Above

      Excellent! It sounds like you know exactly how to handle a disgruntled customer. To further strengthen your answer, consider including an example of a time when you successfully diffused this type of situation so the interviewer knows you are capable in this area. Good job!

      How would you rate Marcie's Feedback?