How to Answer ‘What Does Customer Service Mean to You’ Interview Question

Quick Navigation


‘What does customer service mean to you?’ is a common interview question in customer-centric industries such as hospitality, retail and sales. This question is asked because companies strive to provide the best experience possible for their customers. Your answer should demonstrate how you solve customer issues on the job and show the hiring manager that you would be a valuable addition to the company. 

Why employers ask, ‘What does customer service mean to you?’

Hiring managers want to know how you treat customers and how you behave when engaging with them. It is important for employers to compare your definition of customer service with the company’s own standards. When everyone in the company delivers a similar experience, customers are more likely to return, become loyal patrons and tell others about the excellent service they received. Even if a customer’s encounter with you is brief, your employer should be confident that you can make a great impression and uphold the company’s image.

Surprising ways employers ask, ‘What does customer service mean to you?’

Interviewers can frame this question in different ways, but the intention of the question remains the same. They want to know that you can uphold the company’s reputation by keeping customers satisfied.

Here are a few ways an employer might ask this question:

  • How do you define good customer service?
  • What do you think are some elements of good customer service?
  • What is customer service?
  • Why do you want to work in customer service?
  • What are three qualities a person needs to deliver strong customer service?
  • What do you enjoy about customer service?

You may also be asked related questions, such as:

  • ‘Tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult customer and how you handled it,’ aims to better understand your conflict resolution skills.
  • ‘What would you do if you did not know how to assist a customer?’ identifies your willingness to communicate with your fellow staff and be a team player.
  • ‘What would you do if a customer complained about you?’ allows you to demonstrate how you handle stressful situations and negative feedback.

Related: Best Questions to Ask Your Interviewer to Get Hired

How to answer, ‘What does customer service mean to you?’

Here are a few tips on answering this interview question in a variety of customer-driven industries.

  • Retail and hospitality: Customer service is an important part of retail and hospitality. Focus your answer on the importance of sales, satisfying customer needs and making guests feel welcome.
  • Finance: In financial industries, customer service often involves instructing and advising clients. When answering customer service questions, mention that you want to use your expertise to benefit your clients and help them reach specific financial goals.
  • Public service: When interviewing for a nonprofit or government role, you need to understand how to meet people’s needs in an organization that has a strict chain of command, is understaffed or involves complex procedures. Your answer should focus on the importance of listening to people’s needs, understanding the process and approaching each situation positively.
  • Health care: The health care industry promotes, protects and restores the health and well-being of patients. When interviewing for a health care position, you should discuss how you strive to serve patients with understanding, warmth and patience.
  • Tech: Customer service positions in the tech industry often involve troubleshooting and solving complex issues with services and products. Your answer should explain your ability to serve customers who come to you with a variety of needs.

Learn More: Complete Guide to Common Interview Questions and Answers

Example answers to impress employers in a job interview

When preparing for your interview, reading example answers to common questions can help you come up with your own. Here are some example answers from various industries:

Example 1: Retail

‘Good customer service means having a thorough knowledge of the product and being able to help the customers make the right purchase to meet their needs. In my previous position, I learned all about the latest products so I could make knowledgeable recommendations to customers.’

Example 2: Tech Industry

‘As a technician, customer service is about listening to customers’ needs and helping them find quick, efficient solutions to problems. When I represent the company by exceeding customer expectations, I help customers have the best possible experience with our products and services.’

Example 3: Finance

‘To me, customer service means helping others meet their goals. I’m most fulfilled when I can use my financial background and training to guide clients through the investment process, helping them diversify their portfolios in ways that make the most sense to them.’

There are many common interview questions you should prepare for before an interview. Knowing what customer service means to you can have a positive influence on the way you treat and behave around others. A clear definition of quality customer service can help you secure a position and succeed in your new career.