Please Describe A Specific Time In Which You Exceeded A Customer

You hear it all the time, “You got to exceed customer’s expectations, you got to blow customer’s expectations out of the water” But do you know what it means? Well, let us learn about Please Describe A Specific Time In Which You Exceeded A Customer

Please Describe A Specific Time In Which You Exceeded A Customer

What do exceeding customers’ expectations mean?

Exceeding customer’s expectations means the situation where you provide excellent customer service which is unexpected by the customer.

How to exceed customers’ expectations?

Let us talk about some major key points in managing customer expectations and more importantly, exceeding those customers’ expectations. 

1. Be helpful

The first thing you gotta do is be helpful. Take a note of this. It pretty much goes without saying, right? Since that is why you are in business to serve others and to solve problems. But when it comes down to the customer service conversation, be the one that’s helpful and solve most of the problems in advance. It can also be called anticipatory service. Think of what your customer needs before they do and offer it to them. Offer solutions. Be in a mindset of being a solutions provider, think ahead. 

Jeff Bezos Career Advice
Jeff Bezos Career Advice

2. Speak well of your customers

The second thing you have to remember in addition to being helpful is to speak well of your customers especially when you are around your other customers. For instance, if you are working in a hair salon, you can say something nice about the customer who is leaving to the new customer and if that customer overhears you, they might wish to come to the salon again. This is because you made them feel special, you can imagine this by putting your shoe in that customer. But make sure to speak genuinely and do not make something up for them to catch you.

3. Know your business

Know your business better than your customers do. So if there is a typing business in which a lot of people work from home. They have documents and things that are emailed to them that they need typed up and put into a document. Now, if you were in that industry, and your client came to you and said, “I need this handwritten letter put into a document,” if you could easily just say, “Okay, great. We will get that done.” That is the primary level of customer service but if you want to exceed customers’ expectations, this is where knowing your business better than customers comes into play. You can ask your client these questions, how many copies do you need? What fonts do you need? What letterhead do you need it on? How soon would you like to pick it up? This is where you can think of all the facets of your business and present them to the customer. In short, giving them the options to choose from really shows them that you care about the details of what you are doing to make their business your business. 

Why do they ask you this question in the interview?

They would like to see how you are different from the average person who is up for the job. Let us assume that anybody that they are interviewing can do the job because their resume has already told them that. But what will you do special? And they want you to give an example of that here so this is a great opportunity.

The question is designed to see if you can think of a time where you exceeded customers’ expectations, what that means to you, and how you describe it. 

How to Answer the Question: Describe a time where you Exceeded Customers Expectations.

You can answer the question by telling a story. For that, you can use the SARI formula.

S- Situation or task

A- Action

R- Result

I- Interesting features

You may have seen this before since the formula comes in many forms, however, essentially it is all the same. 

So, let us learn about each step individually!

1. Situation

This is where you set the stage and paint the picture of the scenario. To describe the job you were in and what was going on. For example, you can say, “I was working as a receptionist at a busy downtown law firm and I knew that an important potential client was coming in for a meeting later that day. The firm owner asked me to make sure that this gentleman was given the white glove treatment as he was a very important potential client for the firm.” So that is about setting the stage.

2. Action

So, this is where you want to talk about what action you took to take advantage of this situation. For example, you can say as a continuation of the above story, “I prepared carefully for this potential client. I researched him online and I found out what his interests were so that when he was waiting we could have an interesting good discussion. I also asked around and found out what he likes to drink and that was a certain type of hazelnut coffee. So when he arrived I was ready with a cup of this special hazelnut coffee so as a receptionist I did what I could.”

3. Result

Explain how it worked out in the end, what happened as a result of your actions. So every story is not complete without a happy ending so make sure that when you are thinking about your story, it ends happily. For instance, you can say as the continuation of the above story, “It was great, he was over the moon impressed. I could tell by the look on his face as he went into the meeting that he was not only super impressed but he was not expecting such special treatment. He thanked me, smiled, and shook my hand. As a result, the firm landed the account, now, I’m sure that this was not the only reason but it definitely helped.”

4. Interesting Features

So, this is where you could have some fun with the story. You can talk about anything interesting that makes it more fun to hear. For example, you could continue the above story as, “In this situation, I learned that taking a little extra time to make sure someone feels special goes a long way. It may seem like small touches but in the end, they helped the company get the account which was worth several thousand dollars a year. The new client specifically commented to the firm owner how the receptionist is a keeper and how they should take good care of me. All in all someone else when asked to give somebody a white glove treatment may have gotten them a regular coffee and may have made small talk with them just like anyone else.”

Some Tips while Answering the Question

1. When the hiring manager asks you to describe a time where you exceeded customers’ expectations, first you need to think of a time where you exceeded customers’ expectations on the job. What you can do is imagine the times where you are given a lot of praise or maybe a raise. Think about what made you earn these things. And ask yourself how exactly you go above and beyond for the customers in order to receive that appreciation and recognition. This is going to help you flesh out the stories that you are going to tell in order to validate your experience and your ability to go above and beyond for the customer. 

2. You can also talk about what you learned from the experience. Because as a good employee you always want to be thinking about those experiences and what they taught you. 

3. Then you can also talk about how you grew as a professional and how you are going to take what you have learned and apply it going forward. So that future employers like them are going to benefit from this added expertise that you have developed now. 

4. You need to practice your delivery. You do not want to walk in and wing it. It is super important that in addition to writing out your answers, you play them back to yourself. That can be done by grabbing a mirror and talking out the answers looking yourself straight into your eye with a smile. Or you can ask your friends or family to do a mock interview with you. You can also record yourself and play it back on a video. Doing these things repeatedly is vitally important in interview preparation especially when it comes to answering questions like this. You want to be able to answer with ease, confidence, and enthusiasm and not with lots of fumbling.

Sample Answers

Some of the sample answers for this question are mentioned below to give you an idea about how you must frame the perfect answer so, just go through them. However, you must make sure to create your own answer and thus be honest while responding. 

1. “When I worked as an assistant private banker, there was a time a client called me and added for all of the balances on his accounts and he needed that to be sent to him by email. I assured him that I would definitely help him with that and he would receive the information shortly. After I hung up the phone, I logged into the system and realized that he had about 20 accounts with us and they were all in different names. Since I could certainly copy and paste the account balances into an email and send it to him like that. However, I decided to provide him with the balance sheet by using a spreadsheet, which included account numbers, names, balance, and account features such as interest rate. All I needed to do was to export the relevant information from my system to a spreadsheet and did a few modifications on the spreadsheet, encrypt it and send it out to the customer. It did not consume a lot of my time given the level of excel skill I had. In about half an hour the client called me and said, “Hello Clara, you have done a fantastic job. I forgot to mention the interest rate portion when I spoke to you but you covered that up. I hope creating such a comprehensive sheet did not take up a lot of your time.” The customer was extremely happy about the way I handled his request and he has acted as an advocate for me since then and brought some of his friends over for some businesses.”

2. “When I worked in ABC bank, a customer wanted to sell some shares via our “Visiter Trade” facility, through which, customers could sell shares at one go without setting up a trading account. What I did was I asked the customer some questions. Through those questions, I found out that the customer has multiple shares with different companies. He only wanted to sell two lots of shares to purchase a new home. So rather than using “Visible Trade” to sell the shares at one go, it will be sensible for the customer to set up the trading account and sell the shares online. Because it will have cheaper brokerage fees and it will be a lot easier for him to sell more shares in the future. So I helped the customer compare the cost, time frame for fund clearance, and also the paperwork between “Visitor Trade” and selling shares through a trading account. I also showed him how to navigate the online platform. But for his first trade, I assured him that I would guide him through once the account is up and running. He appreciated the time I took to provide him with an alternative option and showed him how to sell the shares online. He never knew trading could be this easy and he was so happy that he learned something new. He decided to set up an account and he said he may potentially try to buy some shares back in the future by using the account. I was happy that I was able to help him find a better way to achieve what he wanted. On top of that, I referred him to one of the ABC Home and Investment Lending managers to help him with the mortgage of the first home purchase.”


In the above article, you will learn everything you need to know about how to answer the question “Please describe a specific time in which you exceeded a customer’s expectations.” There is a detailed step-by-step guide for you on how you can successfully answer this question along with some bonus tips for you at the end. You will also learn about the reason why the interviewers ask this question so that you know what they are expecting to hear from you through your answer. In case you are not aware of what exceeding customers’ expectations mean then you will find out about that in the article as well. There are some ways mentioned of how anyone can exceed the customer’s expectations. 

So, just go through the whole article, and you will surely get all of your doubts cleared and you will be able to master this question’s answer like no one. 

Please Describe A Specific Time In Which You Exceeded A Customer

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