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7 of the Most Important Characteristics of Great Customer Service

Learn about the most important characteristics of great customer service and what interview questions to ask that showcase these traits.

Great customer service is an excellentway to grow your business. To emphasize its importance to your employees, you need to understand what the most important customer service characteristics are and how to identify them in a potential candidate. The more your workforce exemplifies these traits, the easier it is to attract future customers. Learn more about the most important characteristics of great customer service and the benefits it provides.

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What is customer service?

Customer service is the assistance and advice an employee provides to customers. Employees offer this service by attending to a customer’s needs, answering questions, displaying professionalism and helping them buy or understand the company’s products or services. Good customer service leads to happy clients and customers, which positively affects a company’s growth.

Benefits of good customer service

Good customer service has several benefits no matter the size of your business, so it’s important that your employees are consistently putting the customer first. Here are some benefits to expect when you and your employees offer superior customer service:

  • Customer satisfaction:As a business owner, it’s important to meet customer expectations by providing good customer service. When they anticipate this treatment in the future, it has the potential to translate into their loyalty to your business. This is particularly beneficial if you have a new or smaller-sized company than your competitors. Customer satisfaction also leads to customer referrals.
  • Increased customer retention:When you treat your customers well, they’re more likely to feel comfortable at your establishment and inclined to return. Positive customer service experiences foster relationships with your customers and give them a reason to want to do business with you again. This creates a loyal customer base, which leads to an increase in sales and profit.
  • Customer referrals:If an employee has a positive experience at your establishment, they’re more likely to share it with their friends or family. This word-of-mouth marketing attracts new customers to your business, which results in more sales overall. Whether your prior customers promote your business in-person or online via one of their social media accounts, this is a free form of advertising that benefits your business without any cost to you.
  • Positive customer reviews:If a customer has a good customer service experience at your business, there’s a chance they’ll leave your business a positive review online. These reviews give your company online recognition and exposure, giving your business the ability to reach a wider range of consumers. They also help you establish or grow your online presence, which results in more customers entering your doors.
  • Better work environment: Positive customer service experiences and happy customers influence the attitudes of everyone in the workplace. Improved morale makes your employees feel more passionate about their job and gives them greater job satisfaction overall. When this happens, it positively affects their work performance, which benefits your company’s performance as a whole.
  • Competitive advantage:Having good customer service entices customers to do business with you as opposed to a competing company. This is beneficial if your business is smaller than others in your market or if your competitors are offering lower prices for similar products. If the customer service you provide is better than what’s offered at other establishments with lower prices, people are more likely to want to do business with your company no matter the cost differences.

Related:How to Grow Your Business

Seven characteristics of customer service strengths

Great customer service comprises several characteristics to ensure your customers feel valued and appreciated. When you understand the characteristics that make up great customer service, it’s easier to find these qualities in prospective candidates. The questions you ask during the interview process will helpyou find candidates that are qualified for the role you’re hiring for and possess several characteristics of great customer service. Here are seven characteristics of good customer service and related interview questions to help you gauge a candidate’s skills in this area:


Empathy is the ability to understand an individual’s feelings and where they’re coming from. When a customer is facing a problem, for example, displaying empathy involves understanding what they’re going through and taking the time to express concern. This sentiment lets them know your employees and the company cares about their feelings.

Example interview questions

To determine how empathetic a candidate is, it’s important to ask certain questions in the interview process. Look for answers that show how they treat people and how they react to emotionally sensitive situations. Here are some interview questions that allow you to assess a candidate’s empathy:

  • How do you react when someone comes to you for help or advice?
  • What was your relationship like with your former colleagues?
  • How do you plan on helping your company or coworkers when issues or uncertain events arise?

Related:Best Interview Questions to ask Candidates

Problem-solving skills

Problem-solving is the ability to find a solution to a difficult issue or situation. It involves identifying a problem, understanding the cause of the issue, finding a solution and taking actionable steps to remedy the problem.

If a customer has a discrepancy with an order, for example, an employee uses their problem-solving skills to remedy the situation and find a suitable resolution for all parties. When an employee uses their problem-solving skills in this way, it shows that they value the customer’s satisfaction with your establishment.

Example interview questions

To assess a candidate’s problem-solving skills, ask situational questions. As they answer, pay attention to how they solve complex issues and how they perform during stressful situations. Here are some interview questions that allow you to assess a candidate’s problem-solving skills:

  • Describe a time when you faced a difficult circumstance in the workplace and how you handled it. What was the result? Would you do anything differently?
  • Tell me about a time when you solved a problem creatively. What were the steps and the ending result?
  • How do you weigh the pros and cons before making a decision for a tricky situation?
  • What steps do you take before determining how to solve a problem? Why?

Communication skills

Communication skills are the ability to convey a message either verbally or through writing. While this skill is important in all industries, it’s especially important regarding customer service because this is how employees and customers interact and send and receive information.

Having strong communication skills shows your customers you understand what they’re saying. When employees listen well and speak clearly and effectively, it ensures customers receive all the information they need and don’t leave your establishment with unanswered questions.

Example interview questions

There are several questions to ask a prospective candidate to determine their ability to communicate effectively. When you ask these questions, pay attention to how they interact and work with other people. Here are some interview questions that allow you to assess a candidate’s communication skills:

  • How would you explain a complex topic or problem to a coworker or customer?
  • Tell me about a time when you had a difficult conversation with a customer. How did you handle it?
  • Describe a time when there was a miscommunication between you and a customer. How was it resolved?
  • How do you assess your ability to work with other people?


Patience is a person’s ability to endure difficult circumstances without frustration, anger or other negative emotions. This characteristic is particularly useful when employees deal with angry or disgruntled customers.

If a customer is frustrated, it’s important for employees to remain calm and collected, which shows they’reattentive to customer concerns. This attentiveness leads to greater understanding between employees and customers and helps them resolve issues and answer questions more effectively.

Example interview questions

Behavioral questions are a great way to assess a candidate’s patience level. When you ask questions during the interview, look for answers that show their ability to control their emotions and remain calm during a variety of circumstances. Here are some interview questions that allow you to assess a candidate’s patience:

  • Tell me about a time or situation that tested your patience.
  • Describe a time when you had to deal with a disgruntled customer. How did you handle the situation?
  • Give an example of when your patience paid off in a previous role.

Active listening skills

Active listening involves fully concentrating and focusing on what someone is saying.Active listening is important inbusiness because the better an employee listens to customers, the easier it is to help them and give an appropriate response. This skill shows customers that employees care about what they have to say, which makes them feel valued and heard.

Example interview questions

Situational questions let you assess a candidate’s ability to listen and comprehend others in different scenarios. Look for answers that show how a candidate’s listening skills proved beneficial in the long run and how this skill led to a greater understanding. Here are some interview questions that allow you to assess a candidate’s active listening skills:

  • Describe a time when you had to handle a customer’s complaint. How did you handle the situation?
  • When a customer needs advice or information on a product or service, how do you help them?
  • Tell me about a time when your active listening skills paid off.

Positive attitude

A positive attitude is a state of mind in which an individual looks at things favorably or with optimism. This trait is an important part of customer service as it shows professionalism and leads to greater customer satisfaction overall. When employees are happy, it makes customers feel good and puts them in the same state of mind. A positive attitude leaves customers with a good impression of your business, which translates into customer retention or company referrals.

Example interview questions

If you want to assess a candidate’s overall attitude in different circumstances, ask situational questions. These questions help you evaluate whether they managed to stay cheerful despite workplace issues. Look for answers that show a candidate’s optimism and ability to look beyond difficult circumstances. Here are some interview questions that allow you to assess a candidate’s positive attitude:

  • How have you overcome difficult obstacles in the workplace? Give me an example.
  • How do you handle a situation in which you’re asked to take on more than responsibilities?
  • Describe a time when you faced an unexpected dilemma. How did you handle the situation?
  • When have you helped a customer or colleague despite it being an inconvenience or hindrance for you?

Quick response time

This characteristic involves responding to an issue or circumstance in a timely manner. When employees have a quick response time, it shows they’re respectful of a customer’s time. This is important for good customer service because it ensures employees attend to customers promptly and that they’re meeting their needs.

Example interview questions

Ask time management interview questions to help you assess if a candidate is able to handle fast response times. Look for answers that show their ability to prioritize their tasks and manage their time effectively. Here are some interview questions that allow you to assess a candidate’s ability to have quick response times:

  • Describe a time when you had to handle a time-sensitive situation. How did you go about it? What was the result?
  • Severalcustomers need your attention at the same time. How do you prioritize who to help first?
  • Describe a time when you didn’t provide a quick enough response. What happened and what would you do differently?
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