Job Interview Question

What is good customer service?

How To Answer Interview Questions Series

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This job interview question will generally be asked in interviews for retail or customer service jobs, but there’s really a wide range of jobs that have contact with customers, or people who pay money for a good or service.  Engineers, accountants, and manufacturers can have contact with customers, too.

I think that the best explanation of “good customer service” came from a recruiting client of mine who wanted to hire a good customer service rep.  When I asked what that meant to them, they said, “Customer delight.”

So in my opinion, the best answer to this question would sound like this: “Good customer service is that which delights the customer.  It’s what the customer says is good.  It’s not what you say is good.  It’s not what the company says is good.  It’s defined by the customer.  The most important thing is to make the customer so happy that they will refer you to someone else.  So one of the questions I always ask is, ‘Did I provide what you were looking for today?’ because I know how vital it is to make sure I’m providing what they need so they will be delighted with us.”

But any answer that indicates you’re aware of how important ‘customer delight’ is would be fantastic.  When you’re speaking to a customer, you are the face of the company.  You are their representative, you are in the front lines of their reputation in that arena.  You matter a great deal.

Even a waitress needs to realize that she is the face of that restaurant.  Diners don’t see the people in the kitchen preparing their food, and they very often don’t see the manager, either.  They see the waitress.  She has a profound impact on their experience at that restaurant, which will show up in how they feel about it, if they come back, and if they recommend it to others.

When I was in sales, I had a policy of treating every customer like I would treat my grandmother…politely, respectfully, and patiently.  And I’m not a patient person.  But I knew that if they had a good experience with me, they would buy from me again and they would tell others about me and my product.  My customer service actions in the field would reflect in my sales numbers.

These attitudes are what you want to show the interviewer with your answer.  Don’t just say something like, “Good customer service is being friendly and helpful,” or “Good customer service is being knowledgeable about my inventory and being able to help my customers make good decisions.”  Those aren’t really bad answers, but you can do much better if you go one step further and talk about this idea of ‘customer delight.’


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