What Does Customer Service Mean to You? Best Answers

Learn How to Talk About Customer Service in a Job Interview

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If you are applying for a retail, customer service, or any other position where you have personal contact with consumers or businesses, your interviewer will be eager to find out how you would interact with customers and provide them with assistance.

A typical job interview question for this type of customer-focused position is "What is good customer service?" A related question is "What does customer service mean to you?"

What is Good Customer Service?

What is the definition of excellent customer service? The short version is making sure the customer is happy. The longer version is to ensure the customer or client is satisfied with the product or service provided, and with the sales, delivery, installation, and other components of the purchasing process.

How to Answer Interview Questions About Good Customer Service

The interviewer wants to know what you consider to be quality customer service, how you define good customer service, and how you would be willing to provide it to customers. The goal is to determine whether you meet the standards for optimal customer service as defined by the employer.

The best way to answer is to share a story about how you handle customer issues when they arise in the workplace. In your answer, be prepared to give specific examples of good customer service either from your work experience or from your personal experiences as a consumer.

Illustration by Catherine Song. © The Balance, 2018

Elements of Good Customer Service

Product Awareness Whether you're talking about books, ads on a website, or a widget, having a thorough knowledge of the company's products is vital for providing strong customer service. Take the time to research the company prior to your interview, so you’re clear about the company’s products, brand, and mission. Review the company’s website, social media pages, and Google the company name to obtain as much useful information as you can.

Attitude Attitude is everything, or almost everything. Greeting people with a smile or friendly hello can make a big difference in a retail store, and for any customer service position, a friendly and patient attitude is important. Show everyone you meet during the interview process the positive and engaging attitude that you have. If you’re not feeling that way, review these tips for staying positive during job interviews.

Efficiency Customers value a prompt response. Be ready to share your achievements with the interviewer. Have you beaten productivity goals, cut down on response time, or reduced the need for follow-up calls? Anything you’ve done to be more efficient in your job is worth sharing with your interviewers.

Problem-Solving From needing a new shirt for a wedding to requiring a replacement part, customers are looking for assistance, and part of good customer service is fixing problems and answering questions. Speak about some of the problems you’ve solved at work, the method you used to solve them, and how you resolved the situation.

Examples of the Best Answers

You can approach answering this question in two ways. If you’re new to the field, it can be effective to use an example of a time when someone made an impact on you through their superb customer service skills. We’ve all had experiences of good, as
well as bad, customer service.

If you’re an experienced candidate, share examples from your former jobs with the interviewer. Be genuine and honest when you respond. It’s important that your goals and those of your employer's mesh. If your definition of good customer service doesn’t match what the hiring manager is discussing, this job may not be the best fit
for you.

If you have worked in a service industry, it’s best to recount an occasion when you personally were able to provide service above and beyond what the customer expected.

Here is a selection of sample answers you can tailor for your own use to respond to questions about good customer service.

  • Good customer service means having a thorough knowledge of your inventory, experience with your products, and being able to help customers make the best choices for them. When I worked at XYZ, I used to spend a few minutes each month looking at the newest products to make sure I was fully aware of their benefits, features, and performance and could make knowledgeable recommendations to customers.
  • When my cousin got married last year, I had just graduated and money was tight for me. I needed a new outfit, and the clerk at the dress shop was absolutely wonderful. She made me feel like I was spending a million dollars on the dress I picked out (even though it was one from last season's sale rack) and that I looked like a runway model in it. She took the time to offer suggestions on how to accessorize it and told me where to go to get the best deals. It made such an impact on me, and completely changed my perception of what customer service is. It’s making every single customer feel like the most important one you have seen all year.
  • Good customer service is treating customers with a friendly and helpful attitude. People remember how you make them feel, and I have found that smiling and being interested in helping them solve their problem impacts how satisfied they are.
  • Good customer service means helping customers efficiently, in a friendly manner. It’s essential to be able to handle issues for customers and to do your best to ensure they are satisfied. Providing good service is one of the most important things that can differentiate your business from its competitors.
  • In my experience, good customer service means always being positive and willing to assist your customers to the best of your ability. I remember one customer in particular, from early in my career, who I spent a tremendous amount of time with, helping to outfit her home office with electronics. She was working with a limited budget, but wanted to start with quality merchandise she could add to as her business grew. She thanked me and took the time to send a note to my supervisor the next day. I don’t think I realized until that point how much people appreciate good customer service.
  • Good customer service involves giving customers an excellent first impression of the business, with a friendly greeting and helpful attitude, as well as a good lasting impression. Determining the customer's needs and solving problems quickly will lead to satisfied return customers.

Additionally, you should review the most common questions you're likely to get during an interview for a retail position, so you can have an idea of how to respond.

Take a look at the ten interpersonal skills that make people in customer service positions shine, and review more common retail
and customer service interview questions
and sample answers.

Finally, you should be aware of the most common questions you'll be asked when interviewing, how to prepare answers to interview questions, along with sample answers to these typical job interview questions.