Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work at Kiwi.com in a Guarantee team, in the Customer Support department? Well, you’re about to find out! We met up with three of our employees, Tania from Spain, Dario from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Barbora from the Czech Republic. We talked about their Kiwi.com experience: why they chose to join Kiwi.com, what their journey has been like so far, and what makes working at Kiwi.com special.
This time we asked Barbora Habalová to tell us what brought her to join Kiwi.com as a Guarantee Specialist… twice! The Kiwi.com Guarantee is a unique service that protects our customers in case of changes or cancellations caused by the carrier. But what exactly does a Guarantee Specialist do?
Hey Barbora, you joined Kiwi.com two times which makes us think you really love it here! 🙂 Could you tell us when you joined Kiwi.com for the first time?
In January 2019 I stayed at Kiwi.com for exactly one year, from 1 January to 31 December 2019.
How would you describe your role to someone who is not familiar with it? What are the main tasks of a Guarantee Specialist?
It’s a mixture of order processing and customer service. We communicate with customers, both on the phone and via Helpdesk, the contact webform available in the Help section of the Manage My Booking page. We also perform back-office tasks in that we book flights for the passengers or complete their bookings when something is unfinished.
How did you find out about Kiwi.com?
Even before I joined Kiwi.com the first time, I knew it existed, and I used it to book tickets. After I graduated, I was looking for a job, and since I really like the travel industry, I thought I’d give it a try.
Both times you joined Kiwi.com you joined as a Guarantee Specialist. What made you want to apply for that specific position?
Well, first of all the fact that I knew I’d be working in English. One of my main goals was to find a job where I could use that language because at university I didn’t have that many opportunities to do so.
Before I joined Kiwi.com I worked as a Customer Service agent for the insurance company AXA. I wanted to do something related to back office, but not exclusively related to order processing. The role of Guarantee Specialist allowed me to combine both, so I thought: ‘Okay, let’s try that position. It sounds like something I’d be able to do, and I’d be able to use the English language too, so why not?’
What do you like the most about your job?
The best thing is to be able to finish a task successfully: we book the flights, everything is done, and the customer is happy because we delivered the service they had requested. In other words, I like it when I can find a solution to a problem. It makes me happy, both because my knowledge and skills ‘made it happen’, and because I actually helped somebody.
What do you find most challenging about it?
The people! And by that I mean the ‘human factor’, you know? And by ‘people’ I mean everyone: your co-workers, other people from other departments, and, well, sometimes even the customers. Working with people can be very challenging, that’s what I mean. Sometimes you have to wait for other agents from other departments to take some actions so that you can then do your part, so it can be tricky to make sure everything falls into place as it should all the time.
Do you usually work from home or in the office?
I usually work from home. I thought I’d try working from home to see if I could actually make it, even if I have rejoined the company quite recently. I told myself I’d go to the office if I had problems, but so far it’s been going well, and given the current situation with Covid, I feel more comfortable working from home.
Also, I have recently got a kitten, so that’s part of the reason I’m working from home now!
You are a Guarantee agent and of course handle cases on your own, but you’re also part of a team, what do you like about it? What’s the added value of working in a team?
Well, it’s, again, all about the human factor. Having a team around you means you can discuss anything whenever you need. If you’re at home, and most of the other people are home too, you can still give and receive help via Slack, though in that case there might be delays in the communication, because you have to wait for people to reply to you.
Being on the floor is different, you can just turn around and ask. Plus, the atmosphere is more lively. At home I’m just working by myself, so sometimes it gets boring, not the job, but the environment. So yes, it’s definitely better to have people around, that’s the real added value.
Why did you leave Kiwi.com?
I left Kiwi.com because I got a visa for Canada, so I went to Canada to work there and do some traveling around. I got back to the Czech Republic in September this year.
Technically I didn’t even ‘want’ to leave the company, but I ‘had’ to because the visa would expire. In hindsight, I think it was a good decision because I left Europe shortly before the pandemic broke out.
Whereabouts in Canada did you live?
In Calgary and Banff. Every weekend I went hiking in the mountains and to the many lakes in the area. I heard about people stuck at home here in Europe because of the pandemic, and out there we were still climbing mountains because nothing was happening. Yet.
How was it there? When did Covid hit?
Covid arrived in Canada around two months after it started raging in Europe. As European countries went into lockdown, we were still free to roam. So everything was delayed. Imagine, in Canada masks became mandatory only in August 2020! But that’s it, only the timeline was different. As for the people, they’re the same everywhere.
You left Kiwi.com before the pandemic, and you returned in the middle of one: how has it changed?
Going back to the Czech Republic, I realized the extent to which things had changed in the meantime. Everything is different now, and a lot has changed in Kiwi.com too. I’m not talking about the tools and the internal systems we use on a daily basis, but about our internal processes, which had to be adapted to the situation.
Sometimes I still struggle a bit with that, as I have to clarify the current version of a process before I apply it. I have to make sure I’m not thinking about the ‘old way’ when a process was updated and the other way around. It happens that I remember the old version perfectly well, but I always have to ask myself: ‘Is it still the one in place?’ So I’m always very careful, as I try not to make mistakes. And it’s getting better and better, I guess.
Did anything else strike you in particular?
Everything is changing very fast these days. But many of the people I had met and worked with in my first year in Kiwi.com are still here. And they’re all great to work with. In that sense, not much has changed.
How has Guarantee changed?
It has changed a lot. For one thing, these days we come across a lot of complicated bookings and difficult situations, which was not the case in pre-pandemic times. Also, the Guarantee product itself has changed, so we handle cases differently, and we have new tools helping us with that.
Last, but not least, in my first Kiwi.com experience the Helpdesk service had yet to be launched, so that, too, is a new messaging system I had to learn to use in my second Kiwi.com training. Technically speaking, the Helpdesk service is a Front Office channel of communication, but as Guarantee specialists we, too, are often communicating with customers via Helpdesk, so we have to be familiar with both the tool itself and some Front Office processes we might have to apply when answering passengers’ questions.
When you returned to the Czech Republic, did you go and look for a job in Kiwi.com again or did you come across the job position by chance?
When I got back to the Czech Republic, I checked the Kiwi.com jobs website, and I found the Guarantee specialist role in the list of job openings. I also texted my former Team Manager just to be sure they were hiring in Guarantee. He’d moved to a different position in Kiwi.com in the meantime, but of course he confirmed that the Guarantee opening was there. He told me: ‘Yes! We’re hiring, come back!’ So I applied, went through the recruitment process as I’d done in 2019, and I was hired again.
Why did you choose to apply for the role of Guarantee specialist again?
It’s something I was already familiar with, so I decided to give it a try. Of course, I had no idea how much everything had changed: the processes, the working shifts, and so on. But I knew the product and I knew the job, so I thought it would be a great starting point after I got back to the Czech Republic.
You say ‘return to the Czech Republic’, but you’re originally from Slovakia. So what brought you to Brno in the first place?
Yes, I’m originally from Slovakia, from Bratislava, but I moved to Brno for my studies and stayed here afterwards.
How do you like living here?
Brno is a fantastic student city because you get to meet lots of new people, the bar scene is diverse, and university life, in general, is very exciting here.
Lots of people grow to enjoy the city and are happy living here also after they’ve finished their studies. Others might prefer to move on to another city or country because they need something new. This was also one of the reasons I moved to Canada: after almost ten years in Brno, I wanted to make a new experience. At the end of the day, it’s all about finding your own way and understanding what works best for you.
One thing I can say for sure is that Brno has a great location. From here you can easily reach cities like Prague, Vienna or Budapest, plus from Vienna airport you can virtually travel anywhere.
One last question I can’t help asking. You applied to Kiwi.com once, then, after a one-year break, you applied again. What’s so special about Kiwi.com? What’s the added value of working here?
The international environment is what I like the most. People from lots of different countries work here and, while the same can apply to other companies, as far as I know it’s not the case. People are genuinely friendly and outgoing.
I’m lucky that this has been my first corporate work experience. Kiwi.com retains the atmosphere and vibe of a start-up company, so it manages to attract the kind of people that want to create something and have fun while doing so.
Oh, and of course I also love the free breakfast! I love food, and, well, I love free food, so the free weekly breakfast has a special place in my heart.