How Kiwi.com’s Customer Support teams are working around the clock from home
Customer Support is a massive part of the Kiwi.com operation. CS Agents, Guarantee Specialists, Bookers and more all make up the smooth running of the company. So when something happens that affects not only Kiwi.com, but the entire travel industry, it’s vital that our guys and girls on the front line are ready to deal with it.
The events of March, however, meant having to cope with things on a scale never before seen. Kiwi.com’s largest call centers in Manila and India were closed completely by order of health authorities, while the Czech Republic (the company’s home country) was put on a total lockdown. This meant removing equipment for hundreds of people and relocating them to home office, changing working practices, and putting as many employees as possible in place to get passengers home; even, at some points, bringing in employees from other teams who volunteered to help out.
So how are our Customer Support teams coping with the sudden upheaval?
“For me, the problem is mainly communication,” explains Customer Support Specialist Aga M. “Normally there are people around you so if there’s a problem you can get advice quickly; you can just show them the case and ask them verbally, but now you have to write messages, take screenshots and wait for responses… that, plus the massive amount of calls means there’s a lot of putting customers on hold… everything takes longer and nothing is as smooth.”
For Guarantee Specialist Hana L., it’s been even more trying.
“The internet at my flat went down, so Kiwi.com had to courier a SIM card across town for me so I could set up a hotspot on my phone and continue to work!
Technical issues aside, what are the other major challenges?
“It’s a struggle to separate, mentally, working from home and being at home. I need a separate space, even if it’s just a corner of a room. At the moment I’ve got my laptop and monitor perched on a sort of cabinet,” says Hana.
“We work eight and a half hours a day, five days a week, and you might be doing two or three jobs each day. It’s a mix of talking to passengers at the airport, coordinating with colleagues, and offline tasks such as flight booking and rebooking, processing refunds and so forth. At the moment, we’re basically going where we’re needed as the number of passengers ebbs and flows.
“To be honest, the majority of people just want to get home, and that became a real challenge. With the amount of countries closing or having closed their borders, there just aren’t the routes available that there once were. It’s like trying to write a book using only the first quarter of the alphabet,” adds Hana.
Making things as workable as possible
“Of course it’s stressful, how could it not be?” says Guarantee Specialist Jimmy C. “Our customers are understandably frustrated, and it’s up to us to deal with each individual situation as best we can and not get worked up by it. Most people have been pretty understanding though, to be honest.”
One of the overriding feelings, however, is that support from colleagues and a willingness for everyone to help each other out to make things as workable as possible has been a positive.
“It was things like… obviously, I don’t have an office chair at home (or even a desk for that matter!), and I can’t work leaning forward on my coffee table for eight hours! My ops manager, Ondra, arranged for some furniture to be delivered, so at least I’m a bit more comfortable and it feels more like I’m at the office. I’d have been screwed if they hadn’t!” Jimmy smiles.
As the whole travel industry continues to work on the backlog, and the Czech Republic eases its way through lockdown, Kiwi.com’s CS agents continue to work around the clock with dedication and commitment to dealing with every one of our customers’ requests.
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