Cindy Varguez: “The Call Centre is the first contact our clients have with RIU”date_range 16 September, 2021 question_answer Leave your thoughts
It has been more than 20 years since a team of three people set up one of the key departments in the RIU chain: the Call Centre. At that time the team only served the Spanish market, but now they cover all the markets in which the chain operates. Over time, the department grew to 90 people by 2019, but during the pandemic it took an exponential leap, increasing to 160 agents. It has been one of the key teams over the past year, especially because it has been helping you with any concerns that have arisen as a result of this unprecedented new situation.
Today we would like to dedicate this post to those 160 people who have been behind the phones, answering your calls and helping you with whatever you have asked of them. Can you imagine what their experience has been like? So that we can tell you their story firsthand, we have spoken to Cindy Varguez, RIU’s Call Centre Manager. Cindy has been with RIU for 14 years and has been working in the department for eight years, so she is the best person to tell us what the last year has been like and to talk to us about her great team.
1. To get to know more about what you do, first tell us how the RIU Call Centre works.
Customers can contact us by phone from anywhere in the world 24 hours a day, every day of the week. The number to call, which varies according to your country, can be found on our website, at www.riu.com. Our job is to provide our clients with information on bookings, prices, modifications and create bookings for private clients, travel agencies and companies that have an agreement with RIU. We also provide administrative support to various internal departments.
2. Over the last few months, the work of the Call Centre department has intensified and has played a key role. What did this involve?
In order to understand our role, not only over the past year, but in general, it is necessary to explain that the Call Centre is the first contact our customers have with the company. It is extremely important as their first impression depends on us.
“2021 was a record year for incoming calls.”
This year our work has become even more important, as we have provided service to more than one million customers with queries. What’s more, 2021 was our record year, with over 8,000 calls per day – crazy! The most common query has been about the protocols put in place in the hotels. Clients have asked us what their holidays would be like in this new reality. And, of course, we helped them with their bookings.
3. What is your experience of this past year in which your work has multiplied?
The truth is that it took us, like everyone else, by surprise. In 2021 we received almost twice as many calls as we handled in 2020, which in turn exceeded those of 2019. But undoubtedly the big challenge was to grow as a department in the midst of the pandemic. The most difficult thing was to expand the department while maintaining a balance between providing a good service and also looking after the health of our team. In other words, as we all know, RIU’s maxim is good customer service and treatment, but we must never forget to take care of our employees and colleagues. It is a chain that breaks if you do not look after all of its links.
4. What role does technology play in the department?
Technology plays a key role in our day-to-day work because in the Call Centre we work in real time. Every day we receive calls from all over the world. To be able to deal with all the requests appropriately, we have a specialised tool that allows us to see information about our customers and our agents. This is the secret to a quality service. Without technology, nowadays, with the volume of clients that RIU handles, it would be impossible to provide such good service. Remember that when the department first started up, everything was manual, and now that would be unthinkable.
5. We already know about your work and its importance during these months. Tell us something interesting about you.
More than an interesting fact, I would like to take the opportunity to say how proud we are of the fact that, being such a large and professional team, we have managed to promote people internally to different areas of the company. This is part of RIU’s philosophy, to invest in our own talent – you can start as a Call Centre agent and after a few months we may see other qualities in you that allow you to grow inside the company, either within our team or in other departments of the chain. For me, seeing people grow is very nice and even better after I have seen their beginnings and how they evolve, whether it is with us or in another area.
Another aspect I would like to point out is that our team undergoes continuous training. Normally all the agents start by dealing with private clients. Once they have mastered dealing with direct clients, they are given either travel agency training or agreement training, depending on which tasks or markets they are going to be assigned to. Ideally, though, our aim is that all our agents should be able to do everything.
6. Our clients listen to you, they know your voices and what you do, but what is the team really like?
The reality is that we are a team of Millennials. All of us in the Call Centre have a dynamic vision and are very committed to continuous improvement. We are aware, as I said at the beginning, that technology plays a key role, we have to be prepared for any changes and always adapt to new realities. We are also a multicultural team as we deal with calls in several languages, like English, French, Portuguese and Italian.
7. To finish, and to get to know you a little better, can you tell us what kind of problems you usually encounter?
As we provide services for all the RIU hotels around the world, communication is undoubtedly a challenge, as we tend to have clients who are very well informed through other media. That’s why it is very important for us to have the most up-to-date internal information, so that when customers call us, we can help them with their concerns or requests.
8. We don’t want to say goodbye without asking you to define your department in three words.
It is a professional, committed and dynamic team.
We have been amazed by our Call Centre colleagues and their work, not only in recent times, but always. That is why we believe that the least we can do is to thank them for the extra effort they have made and for always being that friendly voice that takes care of you when you need it most. Thank you for being the gateway to the service that is so characteristic of the RIU chain and for always doing so with a smile on your face.