I went for a job interview at a call centre for business support a few months ago and am having another one tomorrow for the same job. One part of the interview is role play where you sit at a computer and the interviewer leaves the room and plays the role of a customer by ringing you. They then ask you questions about their account etc.

All the information you have either been told before or can find by clicking through their mock account. One of the lines of questions led to me being asked when someone from the loan company would be calling them back. This information I had not been told and was not available on their account.

My friend went for another job like this and was asked a similar question he didn't know. I understand the interviewer knows you don't know the answer so is looking for you to sort out a problem you don't know and be helpful but from last time I think they put a lot of preference on this question.

So how would you answer this question?

  • To deal with the customer, think as if you're the customer and consider what you would want to hear in that situation. For example, you might offer "The loan agents usually try to call during the evening, between 5pm and 8pm, but I could put in a request for them to call during the day if that would suit you better." (with this, you're clearly just guessing and you're not offering a guarantee - after all, you have no idea if the loan agent will actually heed your request or even how to perform the request in the system - but you can check that out after you hang up with the customer). – Brandin Oct 27 '15 at 14:37

I work in a call centre myself and this is quite realistic: you will be asked questions that you cannot answer. You can either:

  1. Put the caller on hold and ask your manager or a floor walker
  2. In some cases say that you cannot give the information. E.g. if a caller asks you to change their credit file, then that is handled by the credit agency, i.e. a third party, not you
  3. Transfer the query to another department, e.g. a 2nd line complaints team. Just make sure it's a warm transfer though!
  • 1
    I agree with this (+1) but would add to listen carefully to the information the 'customer' gives you as well as what is in the file. If they state they were told a window but want it narrowed, they might expect you to say 'I'm sorry but we can't be more specific than that, the team have a number of callbacks to make but I can see that one has been raised for you so they will contact you'. They don't want to see you burning time putting people on hold or hassling other departments if there isn't a need to do this. Some questions just can't be answered by anyone but they can be handled better. – Dustybin80 Oct 27 '15 at 14:54
  • This is good advice. One thing I want to add is that our company is trying to get rid of "negative language", so it might make you stand out if you can think of different phrasing for typical responses that have sorry, can't, etc. in them. For example, instead of I don't know, say I'd be happy to research that for you. It's a small change, but apparently it has an impact on the client. – ColleenV parted ways Oct 27 '15 at 19:24

"Good question! I'm not sure how to answer that. Hang on and I'll find someone who can help you." Then do so.

If the job permits it (some call centers now do, and most other jobs do) "... Or we could call you back when we have the answer, if you prefer."

Or, if you know they really can't get the answer they want, you explain why and wait for them to accept that, ask a different question, or ask to speak to someone else such as your supervisor. The customer is not always right.

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