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What makes a good agent? Is it their previous experience, their references, the way they carry their conversations or certain customer service skills? What customer service interview questions will you ask to find that out?
On the one hand, prior experience and technical expertise is nice. On the other, customer service will be working with your customers, so a fair bit of soft skills will be a nice addition. Finding the perfect blend of the two will result in new star players joining your customer service team.
Let’s take a look what customer service managers should pay attention to when interviewing new hires. We’ll go over a list of customer service interview questions you should ask to make sure you have all the information you need to make a decision.
1. What do you know about our company?
One of the first customer service interview questions you could ask. Finding out what the candidate knows about your business allows you to check for two things: whether they prepared for the interview and if they would be a good fit for the company.
Reading up even a little on a business is a sign that the potential hire actually cares about the position/the interview and would like to have the job. You want to avoid candidates who don’t seem to know anything about your business and look like they got to the interview by some random chance.
When the candidate talks about what they’ve learned about your business prior to the talk, they will often mention the things that they liked the most. This may be helpful to gauge whether they understand what your business is about and whether they would be a good fit.
2. What kind of customer service experience do you have?
Another must have customer service interview question is about experience. Once you know that someone worked in customer service in the past, you can skip a lot of the minor questions that help you make sure they understand what the position is about, what it involves and so on.
Extra experience is also always good because the new hire will require less customer service training and will be able to handle their first customer cases much faster than a complete rookie.
It’s important to note that the candidate can benefit from any kind of past experience involving dealing with customers. Even if they simply contacted with customers while doing another job, e.g. a salesperson, they can carry a large portion of the soft skills experience over to the customer service post.
3. What customer service tools are you familiar with?
This customer service interview question is a natural follow-up to the previous one if the candidate has some experience. Even a basic understanding of how some of the customer service tools work can be useful. You can’t expect the new hire to know your full customer service stack (but if they do, you probably want to hire them right away) but they will have a much easier start if they worked with similar types of tools in the past.
Some of the tools you should mention are:
- Email: Pretty much everyone understands how email works. However, not everyone will know how to use CCs, email groups, email templates and out of office messages. Checking if the candidate is familiar with the more business-oriented features of emails is a good idea.
- Phone: The ability to easily hold a conversation with a customer and to resolve their case over a phone call. Requires a bit of multitasking. For example, the agent will have to keep on talking with the customer while looking up their order information.
- Ticketing systems: An extension of emails geared towards resolving customer cases. It’s important that the new hire understand how tickets work and that they should keep track of the tickets assigned to them.
- Live chat solutions: Live chat allows agents to hold multiple conversations at the same time so even more multi-tasking is needed to do it well. Fast typing will also be an asset here.
- CRM tools: CRMs give you the ability to look up previous contact history and generally let you know who you’re dealing with at the moment. Not the most used tool, but it definitely helps if the candidate can navigate their way around a CRM and knows when to use it.
- Invoicing software: If your agents are handling online orders, it can be useful to have some prior experience with invoicing software or invoices in general.
- Social media tools: Social media customer service is the extension of support you provide on your website. It’s important that the new hires know where to find customer cases (mentions, notifications) and that they know when to switch to another channel (when sensitive information has to be exchanged).
- Shift management software: Bigger teams could use a candidate that already has some experience working in a shift system. Software like this allows you to better organize the work times of your team and to make sure there are no gaps in service.
4. What is your typing speed?
Typing speed is the cornerstone of online customer service. No wonder you’d want to ask a customer service interview question about it. But it’s best to actually see some results rather than just count on what the candidate says.
You can use our Typing Speed Test to check what kind of typist you’re dealing with. You should be looking for people who can churn out at least 40 words per minute if the person is to handle customer cases live.
When testing the candidate, just make sure you don’t put them on the spot. Instead of making it a part of the interview, you can ask them to complete the test as a prerequisite and discuss the results later on. Telling them to perform the test during the interview would be simply to stressful and you wouldn’t get very reliable results.
5. Are you able to work under pressure?
When on the topic of stress, one of the customer service interview questions you should ask should be about the way the candidate acts when under a lot of stress.
Customer service is not always pleasant. There’s always a ton to do with very little time to do it, especially if you want to keep your response time low. Agents will have to be able to answer several customers at a time while describing a more difficult case to a colleague and replying to a ticket. That can put a strain on anyone and you need to find out how the new agent deals with stress.
If the stress motivates them, that’s perfect. However, if they tend to slow down because of stress, this can be a potential red flag for you.
6. How do you deal with difficult customers?
An extension of the previous customer service interview question. When working in customer support, there will be a lot of customers who are flat out dissatisfied with the service. Some of them will be really angry at the business and will require some extra attention.
You can ask the candidate how would they deal with a difficult customer, whether they faced such situations in the past and if they can deal with the extra stress.
Customer service agents are the face of the company in the eyes of the customers. The road they chose when dealing with difficult customers will reflect on the way these customers see the company. If you hire someone that either won’t help the customer or someone who reacts emotionally in such cases, you risk getting a bad name.
7. How do you feel about repetitive work?
There’s no denying that customer service can get a bit repetitive over time so asking a customer service interview question like this makes sense.
There will be probably a couple of cases that the agents get over and over. On one hand, it means that they will quickly learn how to handle them. On the other, it means that the work can get pretty boring, pretty quickly. If the repetitive nature of the job doesn’t scare the candidate away, it should be a very positive indicator in the eyes of the interviewer.
8. When are you available?
Customer service can be pretty demanding in terms of the work hours. It’s not a typical 9-5 job, especially if you have a couple of shifts set up. If your company offers 24/7 customer service, some agents will have to take the graveyard shift, which is a considerable strain on anyone’s life.
When asking the customer service interview questions, you need to gauge how flexible the new agent candidate is in terms of working hours. For example, whether they will be able to take the night shift or not. If they’re looking only for a 9-5 job and you do have shifts set up, this can cause some serious problems later down the line.
Additionally, customer service doesn’t always end after work hours. Some customers will reply only after they come back home after work. And if there is an urgent matter on the line, it would be good if the agents understood that some cases will have to be dealt with after hours.
What are your go-to customer service interview questions?
These questions should give you a broad basis for an interview but you can definitely ask more specialized questions related to your brand.
Do you have any go-to questions you tend to always ask during interviews? Feel free to share them in the comments section. If you do, make sure to include the industry you’re in!