Welcome to My Kiwi story! The ongoing series about our dedicated employees and their lives at Kiwi.com. On this occasion, we chatted with our Junior Operations Manager, Barbara Tambini about her professional development in Kiwi.com, the challenges faced in the CS department and some anecdotes from her days as a CS agent.
Hey Barbara, tell us something about yourself.
I come from Parma, a city in the North of Italy that normally doesn’t stir any reaction when mentioned, until I remind people of two things: Parma ham and Parmesan cheese!
I joined Kiwi.com about 4 years ago, I had just finished my Master’s degree in Italy and was looking for a job. I started my hunt in my home country, but as the job market there was not offering many opportunities, I decided to broaden my horizons a bit and apply for jobs across Europe. That’s when I came across the Travel Consultant position at Kiwi.com. I thought it would be a good opportunity to put my skills to good use, and I didn’t mind relocating to the Czech Republic either!
I began my career in Kiwi.com as a Customer Support (CS) agent working primarily with Italian. Within two years, I was promoted to CS Team Manager. Initially, my team included only Italian-speaking agents, but then expanded to include Polish, Russian and for a while even Portuguese and French speakers! Then, I had the opportunity to apply for the position of Junior Operations manager, and here I am! It has indeed been a fulfilling journey, and one that wouldn’t have happened without the support of my colleagues and supervisors who thought I have what it takes to grow and develop within the company.
What do you see as the main challenges for CS departments in general and how do you deal with those?
I believe that one of the main challenges faced by Customer Support departments is the ability to keep up with the rapid changes in consumer trends and habits. What worked yesterday, may not work in a week and everyone needs to be able to keep up if they want to thrive. The pandemic changed the rules of the game, and turned the whole world into a firefighting station for a while. Once the dust settles, those who managed to adapt will come out stronger on the other side.
As for myself, it will come as no surprise to hear that the pandemic brought new challenges and changes. It was tough working from home and only being able to only communicate with your team via Slack or Zoom. After a while, you miss the immediacy and warmth of face-to-face interactions. On the other hand, as someone who doesn’t mind being busy, it was interesting to see how my boundaries of stress tolerance were pushed every day. I sometimes joke that after surviving the hectic months of the pandemic, the phrase ‘able to work in a fast-paced environment’ is no longer a cliché!
Can you share with us a situation when you were proud of the level of service you gave a customer?
This is an interesting question, and not an easy one to answer. After 4 years in CS, you have so many stories to choose from! For instance, I remember having to explain to a confused passenger how timezones worked, or having a passenger share with me their views on aliens, when the call started out as a simple request to add allocated seats!
One case I particularly remember is from March 2020. It wasn’t particularly high-profile, it was a call that one of my agents transferred to me. The passenger was understandably frustrated as their flights had been cancelled due to pandemic, and it wasn’t clear if the airline would operate any flights in the near future. When I took the call, the customer started raising his voice, saying that they needed to urgently get back home to see their family before the borders closed, and how I had no idea what it felt like sitting there in my comfortable office.
I knew exactly what it felt like. Italy was recording the highest number of cases in Europe at the time. I was worried for my own family. I had no idea when I’d be able to go back and see them again, very much like the customer at the other end of the line. So I let them finish talking, and I explained as calmly as I could that I understood what he was saying because like him and many people across the world, I was living the same situation. In the end, he listened, apologized for raising his voice at me, and patiently listened to the options we could offer. What that case, and many others, showed me is that, in the end, it’s all about the people, and your ability to show them that you understand what they’re going through, and, most importantly, that it is genuine.
Are you interested in job opportunities in our CS Department? Learn more about the department and check what jobs are available now!