Interview Questions Answered: Describe in detail your definition of outstanding customer service.

Even when they’re wrong, the customer is always right. We reside in a competitive age. If customers are unhappy with the service they receive in a grocery store, pharmacy, retail outlet, restaurant, hotel, casino, hospital, or any other establishment, they will simply shop (or enjoy entertainment, or conduct business) elsewhere. It has never been simpler to switch suppliers.

In addition, a few negative reviews on Google or a website like TripAdvisor can severely damage a business’s reputation. Research indicates that 91% of consumers regularly or occasionally consult online reviews before making a purchase decision.

To summarize and emphasize, if a business wants to survive (let alone thrive), it must provide superior customer service. This is why you may be asked one of the following questions during a job interview:

  • Explain your definition of exceptional customer service.
  • When was the last time you went the extra mile for a customer?
  • How do you define excellent customer service?

In this article, I will analyze the question and provide several sample answers that will impress hiring managers. Enjoy!

Interview Questions Answered: Describe in detail your definition of outstanding customer service.

Consult online reviews to determine what constitutes an exceptional service.

Before interviewing with any company, you should research what their customers have to say. If you are applying for a job in the hospitality industry, Google their name or visit FaceBook reviews are more susceptible to manipulation, so you should avoid them unless you have no other options.

Now, you should search for recurring positive customer comments. In a restaurant, for instance, customers may commend the food’s high quality, prompt delivery, cozy ambiance, friendly waiters, etc. You should pay special attention to the details that pertain to your future position.

This should help you comprehend what exceptional service entails for your future employer, and you can reference it in your interview response.

What to do when negative testimonials dominate

When negative reviews predominate (it may be the reason the establishment is seeking a new waiter, dealer, sales representative, etc.), you should try to identify the things that people are complaining about and base your definition of excellent service on those complaints.

For instance, if several hotel/hostel guests complained that their rooms were not particularly clean, you can emphasize the cleanliness of both private and public areas as a pillar of excellent customer service in a hotel.

Keep your definition of exceptional customer service as applicable as possible.

You should not provide a general definition of excellent customer service unless you are applying to work for a large corporation. Certainly, customers have different expectations of fast food restaurants, five-star hotels, and automobile manufacturers.

It is likely that a call center employee, a hostess, and a business development manager will each give a different definition of excellent customer service, as they all work with different types of customers with varying expectations.

Consider your future workplace for a few minutes. Why do customers shop there (or do business with the organization)? How can you positively surprise them from your current vantage point? You should include such details in your response.

If you cannot define superior customer service, emphasize its significance.

In a job interview, it’s never a bad idea to emphasize the significance of a superior service. Even if you are unsure how to define such a service (perhaps because it pertains to a specific industry or you have no relevant experience to share), you can always emphasize that you will strive to provide excellent service — once you understand (possibly after the training period) what such a service entails in this instance.

You may also choose to define an excellent service indirectly. Perhaps you cannot define it at the moment, but for you, any service that results in returning customers and positive reviews is excellent.

Example responses to the question “Explain in detail your definition of exceptional customer service.”

Please view the following responses as examples. You are free to use them as inspiration when writing your own definition of an exceptional service. However, it is not advisable to repeat them word for word in your next interview:).

Customers must feel welcome from the moment they enter the restaurant until the moment they leave. It entails greeting them at the table, serving them quickly, providing recommendations and advice, frequently checking to see if everything is satisfactory, and thanking them for their visit after they have paid the bill. Maintaining courtesy and friendliness is a given. This is how I would characterize exceptional customer service, at least from the perspective of a waiter.

More than anything else, I would define it as meeting or even exceeding their expectations. In a setting like this, it entails expediting the check-in process, escorting guests to their rooms, assisting with their luggage, ensuring everything is spotless, and responding to any requests they may have during their stay. Trying to surpass their expectations. As the manager of this hotel, I believe I can contribute to the preservation of such a service.

We discuss the B2B market and large contracts. In such a situation, I believe that exceptional service primarily entails an individualized approach to each customer. Each time, we must conduct a thorough analysis of their needs and develop a unique proposal. Moreover, we should strive to establish trustworthy relationships with our customers, and they should feel they can rely on us in both good and bad times. I can assure you that I recognize the importance of this service to your success. I hope to succeed every time.

Honestly, I am unsure of the precise meaning of such a service in this industry at the moment. I have no prior experience in this economic sector. However, I am able to recognize when an exceptional service has been rendered. When customers repeatedly do business with us, when they recommend our company to their contacts, and perhaps even when they post positive reviews online, we can be certain that they received excellent service. Once I understand what it means in this industry, I will always strive to provide this service.

In a setting such as this (fast food stand), I assume that customers anticipate prompt and friendly service. They anticipate receiving consistent food quality each time. If we are able to provide such a service, customers will return repeatedly.

Last thoughts

Customer service can make or break nearly all businesses. People in the 21st century rely heavily on online reviews when making purchasing decisions. Such shopping behavior can occasionally backfire (consider manipulated or bought reviews), but we must accept it as a fact.

Employers from all economic sectors comprehend the situation well. Expect to be asked at least one or two questions regarding customer service during your interview.

Conduct research, emphasize the importance of an exceptional service, and formulate a response that makes sense for their type of business. Our sample responses can serve as a source of inspiration. Once complete, verify answers to additional challenging interview questions.

Athina Iliadis is a Human Resources Professional with over 25 years’ experience in corporate environments working for companies such as Pearson, LexisNexis, Hershey, and Reckitt. In her current role as a consultant working with clients around the world, she coaches managers and employees on HR issues, supports leaders in their business, produces content about careers, interviews, and job opportunities. She is fluent in English, French and Greek, and she holds a BBA with a major in HR from Université du Québec à Montréal. Find her on LinkedIn and at

Leave a Comment