Learn when and how to properly place a customer on mute.
- Mute is another customer service task that we may need to perform while resolving an issue with the customer. The challenge with mute, if it's not performed correctly it can make the customer feel frustrated and unimportant. It's also important to understand that muting a customer is not the same as putting them on hold. Let's look at how to utilize mute properly. First, let's define mute. When you mute a customer, it cuts off the microphone on your phone.
You can hear the customer, the customer cannot hear you. All the customer may hear is static or silence on the other end. It's important to note that when we use mute, we are still on the line with the customer. Unlike hold, where we are able and free to perform other functions. Mute is designed to be used mostly when there needs to be short pause while working with the customer. A short pause could be any timeframe 15 seconds or less.
Perhaps someone is talking loudly, you need to sneeze or cough, or you need to answer a quick question from a co-worker. Those are acceptable times to use mute. Now, it might be appropriate in certain situations to use mute when a system is rebooting or a customer steps away which would take longer than 15 seconds. In those situations, mute would be acceptable. But don't take my word for it. Find out what your process is as well. If you're going to mute your customer for longer than the short threshold of 15 seconds, the best practice is to inform the customer that they are on mute and what to expect.
Always inform the customer of what's going on and set their expectations. - Brian, while your machine is rebooting, I'm going to mute the line. I can still hear you, so when the system comes back up, just let me know. I'm right here. - Using hold is typically a better option than mute in most situations. It's not appropriate to mute a customer to laugh at them or go to the break room or to even go to the bathroom. And yes, I have witnessed all of those things happening at a service desk.
A by-product that can sometimes happen by not using mute properly is a customer may think that you are not there and have left the conversation completely. I've conducted quality reviews and during the call, I'll hear the customer say "are you still there? Are you there?" The analyst will unmute the line and tell the caller "oh, oh yes, sorry. I had you on mute." That is another example of an inappropriate way to use mute because we've now caused dead air.
Dead air is classified as any silent time with the customer that lasts more than 15 seconds. This time is filled with no one talking. So we always want to inform our customers of what we are doing, so they understand the steps that are being taken. By providing a brief, action oriented statement of the steps you are taking, it informs the customer of what to expect and what is happening in the moment. - Brian, I'm looking up your ticket in the system.
Brain, let me check on that request for you. It will take a minute to get into the system. Brian, let me type all this information into the system so that our technician will have all the information. - Some important final tips on using mute. First, make sure to inform your customer if you're going to mute them for a longer period of time. Second, ensure that the customer is actually on mute before having any discussions. Otherwise, the customer has just heard your private conversation and you may not have wanted them to hear this conversation.
Number three, realize that hold might be your best option and avoid using mute, especially if there are other functions you need to perform on the line, like dialing a third party. Now mute doesn't have to be a negative experience. By knowing when and how to use mute, we can increase customer satisfaction.
First, Fancy provides guidance on how to use the right types of questions to gather information about an issue. Then, she explains how to professionally handle common customer service tasks, like escalating and transferring calls. Then, she shows how to hone interactions with customers by refining communications—acknowledging how tone and word choice can diffuse tension. She wraps up by covering common customer behavior scenarios in which the tools, techniques, and strategies from the course can be applied.
- Greeting and validating contacts
- Asking investigative and diagnostic questions
- Confirming and validating responses
- Reaching resolution and closure
- Using mute or hold on a call
- Escalating or transferring a call
- Building rapport over the phone, in writing, and face-to-face
- Refining word choice, style, and tone
- Managing conflict effectively
- Recovering unsatisfied customers
- Redirecting customers
- Identifying customer behavior