If you’re going to land your next big customer service role, you have to nail your interview. You’ll face a lot of tricky questions that are designed to dig deeper into your personality and test your attitude about customer service.
So let’s completely deconstruct one of the toughest questions: “What does customer service mean to you?”
Nobody Can Answer This Question for You
This query is one of the toughest interview questions to answer. So wouldn’t it be great if the perfect response was just a Google search away? Unfortunately, the perfect answer doesn’t exist, and your interviewers would see right through a prewritten response.
You really have to create your own response to this question. (We’ll provide you with a helpful strategy soon.) Here’s a look at the reasons nobody else can answer it for you.
It’s uniquely personal.
Let’s say your interviewer is a woman. When she fields this question, she’s hoping to get a closer look at who you are and what you believe. She’ll want to get a better understanding of the person sitting across from her. How are you going to fit in with her customer service team?
It’s in your best interest to answer truthfully. Your answer to this question can help you determine whether you fundamentally fit in with the business you’re interviewing for. And this stance will eventually help you boost your own job satisfaction.
Your philosophy is based on your experiences.
Naturally, your understanding of customer service will be shaped by your own experiences. If you try to find a templated response to this question, your interviewer will be sure to know you’re not accurately reflecting your unique experiences.
So if you want to provide an insightful, authentic answer to this question, you’ll need to search your own experiences and summarize what they have taught you. This tactic will help you put together an authentic response that your interviewer will appreciate.
Attempts to copy will be spotted
The average interviewer will have lots of experience with assessing the responses of potential candidates. She’s asked this question countless times, and she’s undoubtedly heard the same canned responses over and over. If candidates simply regurgitate the first answer from a Google search, the interviewer will know, and she won’t be impressed.
But if you provide an authentic response, your interviewer will be sure to respect your honesty. Even if your customer service philosophy doesn’t fully resonate with hers, she’ll love the fact that you provided a thoughtful, original response—as it’s a good indication that you’re an intelligent candidate worth considering.
Expectations of the Interviewer
This question can seem maddeningly vague when it’s posed in an interview, but there are some good reasons that interviewers love it. Here’s a closer look at what your interviewers are hoping to learn when they ask it:
Are your customer service philosophies compatible?
On a fundamental level, the interviewer will expect to get an authentic glimpse into what you believe about customer service. She’ll want to get a better idea of what you think about your own role, how customers deserve to be treated, and more.
Have you prepared?
Interviewers know this question is tricky, which is why they love to use it. It gives them a great way to assess whether a candidate has prepared and put some serious thought into the interview.
How do you articulate yourself?
This title question is abstract. So to answer it accurately, you’ll need to clearly express your own thoughts and feelings. Your interviewer will be sure to pay close attention to the ways you articulate yourself and share your thoughts. – It’s a good indication of the way you’ll perform in a customer service role.
How to Use the STAR Method to Come Up with a Unique Answer
Very few people enjoy interviews. It’s often very uncomfortable to find yourself and your thoughts under such intense scrutiny when you have so much on the line. Thankfully, lots of intelligent, experienced professionals out there have developed robust systems and strategies you can utilize.
Armed with one of these strategies, you’ll find it easier to approach abstract interview questions with confidence. Consequently, your answers will be clearer and have a better structure.
One of the best interviewing strategies is the STAR method. While this system is most helpful when you’re responding to competency-focused questions, you’ll find that it can also help you formulate your response to, “What does customer service mean to you?”
Intuitively, we all understand that past events can be good predictors of the future. Therefore, you’ll use this system to point at a specific scenario from your past that encapsulates what customer service means to you. Then you’ll back up your statement, which will make your answer more robust than an abstract ramble.
Here are the four sections you’ll use during your response.
To launch your response, you’ll paint a vivid picture that draws your interviewers into your story. So you’ll outline a previous professional challenge related to customer service. For instance, you might describe a period of time when you had to support a particularly important but challenging customer.
When it comes to details, you should try to be as specific as possible. If you’re too fuzzy about the specifics, you could fail to capture the attention of your interviewer. Details also provide proof that your anecdote really happened.
Now that you’ve painted a picture and set the scene, you’ll want to dig into your responsibility during this scenario. Using the example above, you might explain that you were tasked with providing round-the-clock support to this demanding customer.
Now you’ve outlined the challenge you faced and what you needed to do. So you’ll use this opportunity to outline the action you took. So you should explain what customer service means to you.
Why did you take this specific action? Perhaps you decided to stay a little later, in order to walk the demanding customer through a particularly difficult task. You could explain that you stayed late because you believe customer service means being there for your customers when they need you.
At this point, you should explain the positive impact your approach to customer service brought you. This tactic will help you demonstrate that your customer service philosophy has a real-world impact that will benefit your new potential employer.
You should try to emphasize the link between all these phases. This tactic will help you demonstrate that you understand that a customer service philosophy isn’t trivial. Rather, it can have a concrete impact on a business.
Bonus Inspiration: How Customer Service Is Defined by Leading Tech Companies
It’s not easy to learn how to articulate what customer service means to you. To really pinpoint your own ideas and beliefs, you should look for inspiration and let your creative ideas flow.
Here’s a look at the way leading tech companies to define customer service. This knowledge will equip you with vocabulary and insight, and it will give you an idea of what your potential interviewers are looking for.
HP is one of the world’s largest tech companies, producing laptops, 3D printers, and providing managed print services to businesses. For them, the path to success was paved with strong shared values and accurate corporate objectives.
HP is passionate about putting their customers first in everything they do, and they practice customer loyalty, in order to retain these customers. When it comes to creating a customer-first customer service philosophy, HP offers great inspiration.
Spotify is a music-streaming powerhouse. In this post from its HR Blog, the company digs deeper into its core values. As you’ll see, sincerity is one of them. In other words, this company tries to base all of its relationships on mutual trust and respect.
If you’re looking for inspiration, this notion is a great place to start. Spotify demonstrates that sincerity can act as the foundation of great customer service. If you treat customers with respect, everything else will fall into place naturally.
Microsoft is one of the world’s most impactful companies, and its wide reach is by design. The company explains that its mission involves empowering every person and organization on the planet to achieve more.
This mission suggests that Microsoft sees customer service as an opportunity to extend the reach and impact of its suite of products. Perhaps your own customer service philosophy involves the belief that customer service is intended to enhance the impact of quality products.
IBM is one of the world’s most inventive and powerful technology companies. In its corporate responsibility report from 2015, we’re given some interesting insight into IBM’s guiding principles. This one tops the list: “Dedication to every client’s success.”
This approach to customer service is unique. Perhaps fantastic customer service is all about dedication to the customer. Once a customer service department is dedicated, they’ll do everything they can to satisfy their customers.
With over 1 billion users, WhatsApp is one of the world’s most popular communication apps. It started out as an alternative to SMS, and it’s now trusted by friends and families around the world.
In its mission statement, WhatsApp explains that every product decision develops from a desire to let people communicate without barriers anywhere in the world. WhatsApp’s mission demonstrates the power of a clear vision, as well as the important role customer service can play in realizing that vision.
We hope this piece helps you confidently tackle one of the trickiest customer service interview questions out there! To wow your interviewers, you’ll also need to demonstrate an understanding of the latest tools and platforms. So be sure to learn more about Messagely today.