Pascal Dzenga has been a customer service agent at Booking.com for 18 months, working specifically with partners around the globe. Having spent time in retail and sales account management before, he had built up a lot of related experience but this was his first dedicated customer service role. So, what does an average day in customer service look like, and what does Pascal consider to be the most important considerations for supporting partners?
Click.: What does an average day look like in CS?
Click.: The day is normally divided between handling calls and responding to emails, and each situation is different - which is quite exciting. After a coffee and catching up on any business updates we might need to be aware of for partners, the calls start coming in.
Every question is different and you speak to partners from all over the world. I cover English language, and you talk to such a variety of people and never know what’s coming next. That variety is a big positive; a lot of that time you have to think outside the box and imagine if you were that partner, what would you do in those situations. You have to be creative with your solutions and I find that partners really respect our experience and the answers we can provide.
If I am on emails, I’ll often have two screens so that I can also be catching up on live streams on new products, for example. We have regular team meetings to keep us up to date on what’s coming up, but in general, by sheer experience and time in the job you know the common issues or pain points that a partner might face. There is no one-solution for every situation, but our experience helps us know how to tackle most things.
Click.: And how was that routine during peak season?
Dzenga: Peak season was phone calls! There was not so much volume on emails, which makes sense as partners need a really quick response during this time. For the most part, it’s about managing energy levels; you know you are going to be using your voice for most of the day - so lots of coffees and getting a rest when you can.
It’s not quite as complex as the guest side - for partners the focus is generally helping them get prices and availability set up and making sure the system is working smoothly - but there is more volume to manage.
Click.: What do you enjoy most about CS?
Dzenga: When the Guest Review Awards come out in November. Sometimes people call to check if they received an award this year or how to get their certificate, and they are always very happy.
There are also instances when a partner is wanting to offer something free to their guest, for example if they are happy to waive the cancellation fee, and it’s a nice situation because you can always tell the guest and partner have been in such good communication that there are no negative issues and a great relationship has been formed.
Click.: What are the biggest challenges?
Dzenga: A lot happens at Booking.com, it’s a big platform, so you do need to stay on top of any developments and be sure you have those details before any calls come through. You always want to be sure the information you give is accurate and up-to-date.
Click.: What one thing do you think would surprise people most about the role of the CS agent?
Dzenga: Probably how much knowledge we have. People assume customer service only does one thing, but we have full access to everything the partner can see and we can really help support them to grow and optimise their experience.
We don’t have scripts; every call is focused on what the partners want and how we can help them as much as possible. Every conversation is natural and tailored to that one enquiry. We aim to fulfil every request ourselves and avoid slowing any progress down by having to wait for other people to advise you.
Click.: Is there anything you wish you'd known about before starting working in CS?
Dzenga: Get on the phone. Messaging is a great communication method, but having a more personal touch over the phone really is the key to success. That contact is so important and is something I put a lot of time into now.
Click.: Why do you think CS matters for partners?
Dzenga: The only way we can fully satisfy both guests and partners is to provide the most support possible. Being able to provide that knowledge of the internal systems and technical developments, while also understanding the partner’s perspective is really important. We hopefully make their job easier.
- Customer service agents split their time between handling calls and queries that come in over email
- Teams handle contacts with partners from all around the world based on their language area, leading to a huge amount of variety
- CS agents are empowered to think creatively when solving any problems and continually work on gaining more knowledge to do this
- No calls follow scripts and agents aim to fulfil requests drawing on their own expertise rather than having to hand over to other colleagues