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“What does customer service mean to you?”—that is the question. And yes, it does feel like a sea of troubles. Doesn’t it mean the same thing to everyone? What if I get it wrong, and my job is customer service?
Worry no more! We have the tips with the longest Lifetime Value.
This guide will show you:
- How to answer “What does customer service mean to you?” better than 9 out of 10 other candidates.
- Tips, strategies, and techniques on how to approach a question like that in the future.
- Examples of how not to answer “What does customer service mean to you?” to avoid scaring hiring managers away.
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Not the exact advice you need? Explore our guides:
- Customer Service Resume
- Customer Service Resume Job Description
- Customer Service Cover Letter
- Sales Manager Resume
- Sales Associate Resume
- Retail Sales Associate Resume
Now, let’s break down the rationale behind “What does great customer service mean to you?”
What Does Customer Service Mean to You: Who Gets Asked and Why
If you work in an area that provides customer service in any capacity—retail, sales, or hospitality—you may hear, “What does great customer service mean to you?” at your next job interview. The reason for this is pretty simple: recruiters would like to hear some examples of customer service skills that you claim to have based on your resume.
The question can come in different forms:
- What does customer service mean to you?
- What does good customer service mean to you?
- What does exceptional customer service mean to you?
However, the technique for answering that question will be the same: proving that you have a solid grasp of your role and understand the importance of customer service to a business.
Don’t just take my word for it: according to a Microsoft report, 96% of customers emphasize the importance of good customer service as a driver for their loyalty to the brand. Employers know that, and they need to make sure you know that, too.
What Does Customer Service Mean to You: Best Answers & Strategies
Now, when you plan your answer, it’s very important to do your research first.
The more informed you are, the better prepared you’ll be for when you hear, “What does the phrase ‘customer service’ mean to you?” This will give you a competitive advantage over other candidates, too, because you’ll be able to tailor your response to the specific job you’d like to have.
1. Look Into Company Proposition and Values
No idea where to start? Try the company website, LinkedIn, or other social media. Many companies have clearly defined policies and visions, showing you the blueprint for the standard of services they strive to provide. And this is a kind of answer you could provide once you’ve done your research:
“I know what superb customer service means for [name of company], and I couldn’t have stated it better. The company motto, “Only best, better than the rest,” reflects the desire to deliver the highest quality of customer care, and I think it’s the only way for a company to operate.”
2. Show Your Knowledge of the Niche
Try to make your answer as specific as possible. Here are some suggestions:
Explore the company's products and services to get some additional valuable insights like the typical customer the business caters to. You’ll be able to provide examples and strategies that work for this particular audience.
- Think of industry-specific examples of good customer service like fast response rates or reduced downtime for customer support, being proactive but not pushy for retail, etc. Don’t be shy to show that you know the “lingo” and how the field operates.
Here’s a set of examples for someone who works in sales:
“Good customer service is making customers stay. According to studies, a 5% retention rate may result in up to 95% bigger sales, and customer satisfaction is the most crucial customer retention factor! Keeping old customers is literally more money. That’s why it’s important.”
“As a sales manager with extensive professional experience, I know that acquiring a new customer is five times more expensive than keeping an old one. For me, great customer service is ensuring that the clients get the attention and help they deserve and feel cared for at all times—thus turning into loyal, repeat customers. It’s a win-win: great for the consumers, great for business.”
The Wrong example doesn’t exactly sound organic (like someone’s reading from a cheat sheet despite being actually backed by real studies), while the Right one shows a great understanding of job priorities. Taking your time with the answers and making them personalized will ensure that you get into the next round of the interviewing process. Just make sure you provide factual data.
Read more: Second Round Interview Questions
3. Don’t Give a One-Size-Fits-All Answer
It’s easy to assume there’s one “true” answer, but just as “good” means different things to everyone, so does good customer service. For some, it’d be just doing their job properly. For others, it’d be going the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction.
You might be inclined to tell the recruiter what they expect to hear (like give them a textbook customer service definition or some cliché response), but that would not have the right impact.
Be honest and precise, and talk about your real-life experience. No matter how it’s phrased, the essence of the question still is, “What is customer service to you, and what is your approach to treating the clients?”
Compare these examples of answers to “what does customer service mean to you”:
“Good customer service means serving the customer well. It’s keeping customers happy at all times. Because the customer is always right!”
“To me, excellent customer service is taking the time to figure out what the person really wants from experience and delivering that. Surpassing their expectations, if possible.”
The Wrong example is a response with a low Customer Satisfaction Score. It’s blank and doesn’t say anything about you as a professional. The Right example proves to the recruiter that you take the question seriously and that you really understand the reasoning behind it.
Read more: Interview Tips That Get Jobs
4. Showcase Your Customer Service Skills
Describe a situation in which you’ve displayed examples of listening skills, good communication skills, empathy, or problem resolution skills. It’s a great idea to use the STAR method for interviews to introduce such scenarios.
Have a look at this example:
“Great customer service is going above and beyond. We had a client whose shipment didn’t come on time, which was a big issue because we couldn’t fix it immediately. I invited them for a brief call instead of sending a generic email and asked about the inconveniences this situation would potentially cause them. We found a great workaround [your example], which eventually resulted in this client staying with us and upgrading to an enterprise solution.”
If you don’t have a lot of experience, describe a situation featuring you as a customer that became a benchmark for fantastic customer service (and a standard you aspire to attain):
“I don’t have any experience, really, so it’s hard for me to say anything about it.”
“I haven’t worked in a customer-centric setting yet, but there was a situation that I remember to this day as the greatest example of exceptional customer service. [your example] The way the salesperson resolved my issue, the level of involvement, and the attention to detail were unmatched. I’ve been a loyal customer ever since, and I aim to provide the same level of service at [name of the company].”
Not having worked at a position before does not mean you have no understanding of what the position entails. Be sincere, and talk about firsthand observations.
We’ve established that the winning “what does customer service mean to you” formula is a combination of:
- Explaining what superb customer service means to you personally.
- Demonstrating how that reflects in your work ethic.
To get the answer right, don’t forget to:
- Do your research.
- Think of relevant industry examples.
- Be original and specific.
- Prove your strong customer service skills.
With that in mind, you’ll be able to stun the recruiters and do a great job at your interview!
Thanks for reading! Any more tips? Would you like to share your own “What does customer service mean to you” best answers? Feel free to share in the comments below!
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