Insider Interviewing Tips: How to Answer the Question "How Would You Deal With an Upset Customer?"

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Nov 7, 2018

Nov 7, 2018 • by Rebecca Smith

In 2017, 64% of people said they had contacted customer services within the last month.

And whilst the majority of these will have genuine queries or concerns, there will be some who are going to be distinctly upset.

If you're applying for a job in customer services, one of the most common interview questions will be to ask how you would deal with an upset customer.

So read on as we take a look at the key points that you should be sure to include in your answer.

Keep Calm

The first thing that you should explain is that your priority will be to remain calm.

No matter how irate the person on the end of the line may be, getting angry or flustered will not help the situation in any way. Remaining calm is the first step in helping the customer to calm down too. One effective way to do so is to smile as you are talking. The action of smiling releases chemicals that will make you feel a little more relaxed.

You can learn more about how to de-escalate an upset caller in this post.

Stay Positive

The interviewer won't want to listen to a long rant about how customers have unrealistic expectations.

Try to ensure that throughout your answer you maintain a positive outlook on the question, even when talking about the angry customer. If they can see that you can discuss the question in a positive manner, they are more likely to think that you will be able to deal with an angry caller in the same way.

Don't Take It Personally

It is important to show that you understand that the customer is upset with the situation, not with you.

It is all too easy to take complaints to heart when someone is being critical of the service they have received, particularly if they are getting upset with you. In order to deal with complaints on a regular basis, you need to be able to see that the complaint relates to the service they have received and not to you personally.

Taking personal feelings out of the equation allows you to handle the problem without an emotional response.

Listen to Them

A key response that interviewers will expect to hear is that you will listen to the customer.

When customer's ring to make a complaint, they often just want to be heard. We all know how satisfying a good rant can be, and by listening to the customer and allowing them to get it off their chest, it can help to diffuse the situation. It is important that as you listen to their issues you remain judgment free. You don't want them to feel like their issue is unreasonable but at the same time, you don't want to open yourself or your company to liability if there was none.

Make a note of the key points of their problem so that you have all the facts.

Repeat the Problem Back to Them

Once they have explained the issue to you, repeat it back to them.

This will serve two purposes. First of all it, it lets them know that you have listened carefully to what they have said and understood the problem. And secondly, it will allow you to ensure that you have your facts straight about every aspect of their complaint. It means that you can go forward armed with the information you need.

Acknowledge Their Concerns

Once you are sure you know what the customer's concerns are, you should acknowledge them.

The customer wants to know what you appreciate why they are upset and why they are calling. Let them know you appreciate and understand the issues that they have raised. This lets the customer feel that they have been listened to and allows you to move to the next stage.

Offer Solutions

In order to satisfy an angry customer, you need to be able to offer solutions to their problems.

Obviously, you need to offer solutions that are in fitting with company policy. There is no point offering a full refund if that's not something you will be able to do. Explain to the interviewer that you would attempt to find a suitable solution within the company's expectations that would still leave the customer satisfied.

Stay Firm

No interviewer wants to hire someone who they consider a walkover.

You should make clear that you will not be bullied by the customer, but will stand firm to the solution that you have offered. If the customer is pushing for more, you should politely inform them that you understand their position, but that the offer is the best that you are able to do.

Showing that you are willing to stand firm in the face of an irate customer is a key skill the interviewer will be looking for.

Share a Personal Account

Finally, if you have had a personal experience in a previous customer services position in which you dealt successfully with an upset customer, then this is the time to talk about it.

Make sure that you only do this if this was a genuine situation that you handled well. Making up a story opens you up to being caught in the lie, which can only end badly. It is better to leave this part out than to use a fake or unimpressive story.

But if you have a good personal account it can prove you are up to the task.

Do You Have the Skills to Handle an Upset Customer?

If you think you have the skills needed to deal with an upset customer in a successful manner, then there will be plenty of companies who would consider you for a job.

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