What is Customer Service?

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When you're interviewing for a job, you need to be prepared for all kinds of job interview questions, from the standard ("Where do you see yourself in five years?") to the downright wacky ("Why is a tennis ball fuzzy?") But since you don't have an endless amount of time to prepare, it makes sense to focus the bulk of your preparation time on the questions you're most likely to get.

If you're applying for a retail or customer service position, for example, a common job interview question is "What is customer service?"

What the Interviewer Wants to Know

The interviewer wants to know that you are familiar with the lingo, but also wants to be sure that you are aware there are distinctions and levels of customer service.

This is your opportunity to show that you understand the technology as well as the theory involved. Your goal is to demonstrate that you can be courteous and pleasant – i.e., a good public face for the company – while also answering questions and addressing concerns in an efficient, timely manner.

Keep in mind that not all communication takes place out loud. In addition to being prepared to answer the interviewer's questions, you want to create a positive first impression by dressing appropriately, making friendly eye contact, and maintaining open, confident body language.

Especially in a job interview for a customer service role, it's important that you prove to the hiring manager that you understand how to convey the right messages with your appearance and demeanor.

This might mean keeping your makeup or jewelry more (or less!) conservative than you would during your off-time or just making sure that your interview outfit is clean, pressed, and free of lint or animal hair.

The bottom line is that you want your interviewer to notice you and your skills, not what you're wearing.

What Should You Know Before You Answer?

This is where your pre-interview homework will come in handy. Before you pick up that phone or set foot in the company headquarters, do a little research on the organization and its attitude toward customer service.

While the basic tenets of good customer service are the same from organization to organization, the details can vary widely. Every organization wants to sell its products, keep its customers happy, and grow its client base. Not every organization goes about this in precisely the same way. Knowing these seemingly trivial differences can mean the difference between getting hired and continuing your search.

Read recent news stories about the organization, and follow the company on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., to find out what the company presents to the world. You're hoping to learn a rough idea of the company's philosophy about customer service.

Many organizations like Zappos and Amazon provide this information right up front, as part of their branding strategy. If your prospective employer does the same, pay close attention to how they express their philosophy, and identify a few keywords.

Look for opportunities to drop those keywords into the conversation.

You might feel a little awkward, but the impression you'll give the hiring manager is one of someone who's already aligned with the brand – in other words, a good investment. 

Examples of the Best Answers

Here is a selection of sample answers you can use to respond to questions about customer service.

  • Customer service is more than waiting on customers. It includes trying your best to make sure that the customer is satisfied.
  • Customer service is listening to customers and helping to resolve their issues, so that they remain happy and loyal.
  • Customer service is being friendly and helpful to customers.
    • Customer service is helping customers satisfy the need that brought them into the store.

    Read More: More Customer Service Interview Questions | Top 10 Customer Service Jobs

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