I received this question from a CaseInterview.com student that was preparing for an upcoming interview with Accenture about a specific conflict management interview question that Accenture asks. Below is the question as well as my response on how to approach and prepare for this type of interview question.

Student Question:

I have an interview with Accenture later this afternoon and when speaking with several alumni, I ran across an interview question that I have yet to hear.  “A client comes up to you and states that he or she is currently upset with Accenture’s work performance. How do you handle the situation?”

This could lead into a business situation, but I believe Accenture is looking for more of a “client relationship” type answer.

Do you have any information regarding this type of situation?

My Reply:

This is an interpersonal / conflict resolution type question. It is not a framework type case.

General approach is to apologize for the fact that they are unhappy, then basically listen, figure out what why the client is upset, and then think about how to best handle it. If the client’s assessment is correct, generally I will say I agree with them. If the client is unhappy, I generally ask what is it that we can do to make this right.  If unhappiness is created by confusion, I try to clarify.

I will often ask a client, “What is it that we could do to make this right?”

“First seek to understand, before seeking to be understood.” – Steven Covey

It’s just a customer service question, so just ask yourself if you went into a car dealer and you were really unhappy because the new car you just bought is broken, how would you want to be treated?