A Job Description for Customer Service Reps (Along With 6 Interview Questions to Ask)

March 10, 2016

A single customer service representative can have more impact on your company’s brand to a person than every dollar you’ve spent on design, advertising and sales, combined.

Think about it - if you experience bad customer service with a company, not only are you unlikely to ever use that business again, you’ll tell your friends not to use it too. Conversely, if you have great customer service with a company, chances are you’ll become an advocate and encourage others to use that company as well.

For that reason, the people you hire for as customer service reps really matter. So to help you find the best, we wanted to aid you on two fronts.

First off, we’ll walk you through how to write a great job description for a customer service position, so you attract great talent.

Secondly, we’ll give you six interview questions to ask each customer service candidate, so you can confidently screen through applicants and ultimately hire the best person.

How to write a great job description for a customer service position

The goal of a job description for a customer service representative should be two-fold:

  • Explain why your company and the position are unique and worth considering over all the other customer service positions out there.
  • Clearly explain the job, so people can decide if it’s for them and if they have the skills to do it well.

The first step of writing a job description is coming up with a name for the job. Here’s not the place to be creative – just go with something straightforward, like “customer service representative.” The reasons are explained here, but fundamentally, a simpler job title will do better SEO-wise and let people quickly know what you are looking for.

Next is writing the opening of your job description. This is your chance to entice great talent to want to apply, both because they believe in your company and understand the value you place on the advertised position.

An example:

For the past 100 years, ABC Insurance Company has given stability and peace-of-mind to our customers. Through our various service lines, we’ve worked with millions of people when they were most in need, helping them overcome the worst obstacles in life.

Our customer service representatives are critical to that effort. They serve as our voice, and ensure our customers get what they need when they go through tragedy, so our customers can focus on the things that really matter.

For that reason, we search for only the best people, who are willing to take that responsibility seriously. In return, we believe in providing a great work experience for our customer service reps, providing them daycare assistance, tuition reimbursement and a slice of cake on their birthday.

The rest of the job description should clearly explain the duties of the job and the skills necessary to accomplish it. A good idea here is to avoid a list of generic requirements and instead focus on the type of person you are looking for.

An example:  

What the job entails

For this job, you’ll be working in our Boston-based customer service center, helping approximately 60 customers each day over the phone. Fundamentally, your job is to provide each customer an incredible customer experience, and ensure each one gets what they are entitled to. You will service customers for all of our insurance lines.

Hours are standard business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday - Friday. Telecommuting candidates will not be considered.

What you need to be successful at this job

First and foremost, we want someone at ABC Insurance Company who legitimately cares about helping people. Often, you are dealing with our customers at the worst times in their lives, and we need someone who is willing to accept that and who takes pride in helping our customers through those situations, in the most professional way possible.

We prefer candidates with at least three years customer service experience, particularly experience in the insurance industry. However, we are willing to make exceptions for people who can clearly demonstrate a passion for this work. We are also looking for someone who is exceptionally organized, can learn quickly and will fit in with our diverse (and, quite frankly, a bit goofy) team.  

And now, 6 interview questions to ask a candidate for a job in customer service

Once you post your job and applications start coming in, it's time to screen through those candidates. That means interviews, which is your chance to really get to the core of the person.

Here are some good questions to ask:

1. Why do you love customer service?

Relatively easy one to start off, but to be great at customer service, a person really has to love it. Otherwise, irate and impatient customers are going to grind on them, and they are going to burn out.

Ideally, when you ask a candidate this question, their should eyes’ light up and they’ll clearly demonstrate some passion in their answer. Hopefully, the reason is they give is they legitimately like helping people, and are thrilled to do it every day.

2. How would you respond if you didn’t know the answer to a question?

A great candidate for a customer service position should have a strong answer for this one ready to go, as this is an unavoidable part of the job. No matter how much training a customer service rep gets, there are always going to be questions they don’t know how to answer, and they need to be able to deal with that.

3. How do you stay organized?

Organization ensures calls are handled promptly and efficiently, which is obviously the hallmark of good customer service. A candidate who prioritizes organization should have a clear system for how they stay atop their work. Meanwhile, someone who says something along the lines of “I just wing it” or “I trust my gut” is often prone to disorganization.

4. Walk me through the last two times you were trained on how to support a new product.

A big part of being a customer service rep is learning new features and processes, so you can assist customers on new products or new updates within an existing product. Therefore, a great customer service rep should be able to learn quickly.

Asking this question forces the candidate to talk about their own experiences learning about new products and features, and gives insight into how quickly they can provide service for new products.

5. Can you give me two examples of times when you’ve turned an angry customer into very happy customer?

This should be an easy question for a great customer service representative to answer. In fact, some candidates might wow you with their response, as they cite a time they personally delivered a particular product to someone or spent 45 minutes after their shift ended talking a customer through a problem.

You want those people.

6. Instead of asking another question, do some role play.

The science of interviewing says a relevant work test is one of the best ways to screen candidates. For a customer service representative, that means roleplaying a few calls with them to see how they can handle customers.

Rather than asking them to describe their customer service style, this shows you their style and gives you real insight into what they’d be like at your company. All told, it might serve as your most effective way to screen candidates.

Tying it all together

Having a great customer service team is a massive competitive advantage in business. A big reason companies like L.L. Bean and Zappos have been so successful, for example, is because of their great customer service.

Conversely, poor customer service can sink your company. Therefore, hiring the right customer service reps really matters. And a big part of accomplishing that is writing great job descriptions and structuring a strong interview, empowering you to consistently attract and hire great people.

*Image from Plantronics

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