Included in my sample job interview questions is this gem:
You might be thinking, I'm not in sales. I don't deal directly with customers.
Truth is...we all have customers.
A customer is anyone--inside or outside the company--who depends on you for information, support, materials, or products. In other words, you are a supplier of something that someone else needs to do their job.
I'm sure you've heard the expression, the customer is always right.
I remember a company that prominently displayed a sign in their place of business that read:
Sounds good, but unfortunately, life isn't that simple these days.
Remember a couple of decades ago when this clever little slogan was coined: It's the quality...not the quantity of time you spend with your kids that really counts.
Boy, we all fell for that one.
Seems like every time I turned around someone was reciting that little chant to ease the guilt of spending 70 hours a week at work, instead of playing catch with our kids in the backyard.
It finally dawned on us that our kids need both quality and quantity time with us.
The same kind of logic applies to customers; they aren't always right.
It takes skill, foresight, and quick thinking to amicably resolve a problem with an irate customer without going overboard and giving the farm away.
Read the true story below to give you some ideas on how to formulate your own answer to sample job interview questions like this.
A heavy equipment manufacturer had one of their large retailers occasionally refuse the delivery of an $80,000 machine because of unacceptable quality.
The GM of this retailer would call the Plant Quality Manager and bend his ear about their terrible quality.
In most cases, the GM threatened to refuse delivery and send it back to the plant if they didn't make it right.
However, this was an expensive proposition.
Delivery costs were often $1,200 one way. And retailers were responsible for these shipping costs.
To keep the customer happy, the Plant Quality Manager agreed to eat the delivery cost of the machine. He also allowed the retailer to withhold payment for the machine for 2 weeks while his service department reworked the machine.
Only one problem.
Few, if any, of the 250 nationwide retailers were jumping up and down about poor quality...and none were refusing delivery.
Further investigation of the quality documents by the Quality Manager revealed that the machines shipped to this retailer met their quality requirements.
Furthermore, their recent quality system audits were excellent and end-user feedback was also excellent.
The first couple of times this retailer went into orbit about horrible quality the Plant Quality Manager chalked it up to the old cliche...the customer is always right.
He trusted the retailer and gave him the benefit of the doubt. After all, they did buy a lot of product and ranked among their top 10 retailers.
The QM then got out his calculator and figured out that every time this retailer rattled their cage about terrible quality, the retailer would make about $1,700 ($1,200 delivery freight, $300 floor plan interest, $200 rework charges in their shop).
Hmm...the customer is always right...on the money that is!
The Plant Quality Manager met with all of the plant department heads and came up with a plan.
The next order from this retailer would be assigned a Quality Specialist to babysit this unit throughout the manufacturing process. Everything would be checked and double-checked.
Before delivery, this machine was inspected by the entire plant management team. All agreed it met the quality requirements.
The freight delivery company was asked to provide special handling and to deliver the machine clean and showroom ready.
When the machine arrived at the retailer...you guessed it...the retailer did another phone rant to the Plant QM about unacceptable quality.
This time the Plant Quality Manager was ready for him. He firmly told the retailer about all the things they had done to insure he received a quality product, and refused his demands.
The retailer huffed and puffed, but did accept the delivery.
Moreover, there was a happy ending to this story that provided an excellent climax for answering this sample job interview question.
This retailer continued with the product line for many more years and remained a top 10 retailer. There was never another overblown quality incident.
This retailer was clearly hiding behind the mantra, the customer is always right, to take advantage of this manufacturer. The Plant QM stood up to this bully and handled it beautifully.
This turned out to be a win-win for both sides. And this is what all companies strive for and why sample job interview questions like this are presented to you.
Show them through a powerful story how you are able to resolve thorny issues with demanding customers.
Remember...when responding to sample job interview questions like this to tell your story in 60-90 seconds...tops.