Interview with Vít Sedlář, Senior Claims Specialist
Vit (Vitek) Sedlář is our Senior Claims Specialist transitioning to a Team Manager role, and he has been with Kiwi.com for 5 years. He says his aspirations are quite simple and that he is trying to live his life so he is happy, but in a way where he is always learning something new.
“My job as Senior Claims Specialist helps me with that quite a bit, because even though I’ve worked here for over 5 years, I’m still learning new things all the time,” says Vitek.
We talked to Vitek about his work as a Senior Claims Specialist within Customer Support (CS) department, learnings he gained during his work, his reasons for working in the CS department, cooperation between CS teams, and more.
Hi Vitek, can you tell us how you would describe yourself?
Hello! I would describe myself as a very social person. I like to interact with other people, both at work and outside of work, even my hobbies are a lot about it. I like team sports, such as volleyball, for example. I like my work a lot as well. From my point of view, the main challenge at my work is that you are not only responsible for your work but you also help others. You should be really confident about the information you provide since people rely on you and I’m the type of person that wants others to be able to rely on.
Speaking about my job itself, I do my own tasks but I also serve as a connection between junior colleagues and the Team Manager and now I am transitioning to the Team Manager role. Junior colleagues sometimes need help with a task that might be complicated for them, but is not that complicated for a senior specialist and we are there to help them.
You have been working on the Claims team for a couple of years already. What do you love most about working here?
Definitely the atmosphere and the Kiwi.com environment. I would say Kiwi.com managed to build something unique regarding this and you would hardly find a different company where you would feel so happy with things around you. For me personally, I really love the team as well and also have a manager who I can rely on 100 %, which is amazing. It is a reason I have been here, as you mentioned, for a couple of years already.
There are 16 different tribes within the CS department. Can you explain to us what the Claims team does?
Claims work is situated mostly around refund requests from our customers. Those can arrive due to multiple reasons, the most often are voluntary ones, where the customer had to change his/her mind and cancel the trip or when there were problems at the airport with Visa. The tricky part starts when the flight/s are affected with a disruption. Then the real fun begins with going through multiple refund policies, applying for refunds with multiple airlines and trying to get the money as soon as possible. It can also happen that we are not sure from the first point of view what happened. In such cases we have to contact the airline and find out. We could also be called the Investigators of Customer Support.
Can you describe a typical day in your life at work?
The Claims agents work on numerous tasks and a typical day includes starting your work day by checking an excel sheet with tasks to see what your responsibility is for that day and then you do that. You usually don’t do the same thing more than 2 days in a row, so there is definitely not a big problem with monotonous work. I would say Claims is really far from being the easiest job in CS, however all it takes is to learn the things during the training and then it is pretty fine.
Just like with any job, there are some stressful situations – mostly with things you cannot influence like airline disruptions – however, in the end, it is not a deal breaker. In our department you are usually the one who can do something with it and make it better. The typical things I do during the day is combining a deep focus on work with some things that help my mental health to keep myself going. For example little things like coffee breaks, chit chats, listening to some music. While I’m doing those things, I tend to focus on staying sharp and calm, rather than on performance itself, and in fact, it very often results in better performance.
What are the most important things you’ve learned at your job and what skills have you improved?
My job is more about the hard skills such as an understanding of payments, refunds or chargeback flows – this you just have to learn since it is pretty unlikely you already possess this knowledge without previous experience. However, at the same time, I would say I learned a little bit more soft skills at work. While I learned a lot about the technical aspects of my work (which helped some of my colleagues to change their job later to the FinTech department for example), I definitely improved the most in communication skills because of the team work. Learning how to work in an environment with people with different cultural backgrounds as well as personal differences teaches you a lot about understanding others and that’s a very useful skill (not only) in claims.
How does your role as a Claims Specialist impact the workflow of the Customer Support department?
We, as Claims, are usually the last people coming onto the “case”. We investigate the concern, evaluate whether colleagues from other departments handled the situation correctly, and then proceed with a resolution. For example calculation of final refund or denying a refund.
What tricks do you use to be more efficient while at work?
The tricks I use are very often the ones I learned while working here. Since I have an overview about what can go wrong, I know what places to check first in order to find the root problem the fastest while skipping the less obvious reasons. For me personally, it is very useful to learn how to work with a lot of opened tabs while not having chaos in them. This way, I have all the information/processes I usually need available really quickly. Also, since working around people in the open office might get a bit noisy, using headphones from time to time is a perfect tool to keep focus.
What is one traveling story you would like to share that you have run into during your time as a Claims Specialist?
One time it happened to me that the airline canceled a flight in South Korea and our customer had her Guarantee activated. We asked to send receipts for alternative transportation etc., just a normal situation for us. However when all the receipts arrived, they were in korean and none of the portals/tools for translating documents were helping. Taxi receipts were for example translated as “Cotton receipts”. For the rest of the document, I could not even know what it is for. Luckily we have a heavily multicultural company and I found help from one of my colleagues who managed to translate the documents for me allowing me to figure out the refund amount and help our customer.
How do you spend time with your colleagues outside of work?
Most often I spend time with my coworkers outside of work on Thursdays, where we hang out after work, have a drink, snack and a conversation not related to work. Apart from that we do regular team buildings every quarter, attend the company-wide activities as well and sometimes, I would say not that often, just make some ad-hoc gathering outside of work. Some of us are not only colleagues, but friends as well.