5 customer service representative interview questions you should be asking

A passionate team of customer service representatives is critical to transforming customers into advocates, reducing churn, and maintaining sustainable growth. Finding the best CSR for your org begins with a direct, unbiased hiring process that’s tailored to their unique role. 

These five interview questions can make your customer service representative interview process more effective by measuring candidate ability to reinforce brand values, messaging, and more.

1. How would you explain our product/service in two sentences?

Asking potential CSR candidates to quickly summarize your product or service helps gauge how thoroughly they researched your company to prepare for their interview. It’s also a good predictor of their engagement level once hired. Specifically, listen for an answer that includes:

  • A thoughtful overview of what your company does
  • Who your target customer is, and the primary problems they face
  • How your product/service addresses customer pain points

2. How does empathy play into the role of a successful CSR?

A majority of the sales cycle happens digitally and with minimal person-to-person interaction. As a result, an increasing number of companies have concluded that offering live customer service (vs. automated support) is a key differentiator. Adept support reps offer customers the ability to voice their frustrations and receive an empathetic, complex response. This can diffuse frustration and result in a satisfying experience that 67% of consumers are willing to pay more for. Listen for the candidate to express:

  • An understanding that empathy and sympathy are different, with empathy being a core component of successful CSRs
  • Why empathy is invaluable for a successful CSR to take the “next step” to help the customer or research a solution

3. What does excellent customer service mean to you?

Research shows that 73% of customers report favoring certain brands because they provided helpful customer service. Knowing how valuable CSRs contribute to customer satisfaction, retention, and growth, a candidate’s answer to this question can provide an essential look at the impact they might have across your organization. Their answer can also demonstrate alignment with company values. Listen for:

  • An understanding that excellent customer service goes above and beyond the standard (within reason)
  • Personal examples of poor customer service (and how the candidate would do better), or excellent customer service and what solidified that experience
  • Red flags like avoiding responsibility for a problem or lacking flexibility in finding an optimal solution

4. Tell me how you’d de-escalate a frustrated customer without sounding condescending?

De-escalation skills are essential to reducing conflict, calming customers, and providing a reasonable solution. A sound understanding of effective de-escalation techniques includes avoiding anything that could make the customer feel belittled. Listen for the candidate to show:

  • An understanding of what de-escalation is, and a step-by-step process that results in a solution
  • The knowledge that empathy and a customer-first mindset strengthens the customer relationship (even during a conflict)
  • What NOT to do (getting angry, minimizing/patronizing customers, etc.)

5. How would you upsell our other products on a call?

This question shows how well this candidate can think on their feet and provide additional value to company as a whole. Though CSRs typically engage with customers after a sale is complete, their lead-generation potential can help existing customers enter an elevated sales funnel. Listen for:

  • Answers that focus on better meeting customer needs instead of just pushing product
  • A focus on using customer history to guide informed suggestions
  • A sound understanding of additional products/services

Elevate your customer service representative interview questions

Including a few of these questions in your interviews is a great way to find the right candidates to support your customers and contribute to your business’ continued growth. Whether you’re hiring your first CSR or expanding an already-established support team, it’s crucial to build a hiring process that’s thorough, fast, and fair.

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