Your voice is very reassuring and warm
(smiles) Thank you. I think I learned, during my years at the Sabena airlines front desk, that you can do a lot with how you sound. Sometimes I had to deal with angry, stressed out travellers, and the right voice, tone and tempo, and the right words can really calm someone in difficult moments.
Those were my best moments there, really. Facing someone in difficulties and managing to reach and help them.
Do you need that too sometimes during an Amadeus helpdesk call?
Oh no, Amadeus customers rarely give me a hard time. On the contrary, they’re happy to hear me. You start to get to know each other, after a while. It’s a relation based on mutual understanding. And then it’s like Hi, Maria, good to hear you!
Souplesse, douceur. (flexibility, being gentle – ed.) They work, you know. And not just in my professional life. 26 years into my travel career, I have had my share of ups and downs. And being able to be there for people is what makes me happy. That, and being able to learn. I still learn every day, and I like that. Even when it’s something small.
So you spend a lot of time on the phone?
That depends. People can email us too, and they do. But it’s harder to be avoid misunderstandings in a written message. A lot of our customers prefer the phone; it’s easy and more personal, though it’s not free. But they say, Yes, I know I have to pay for this, but calling you works fine and I like it.
What’s your FAQ as Helpdesk specialist with 10 years of experience?
Accessing the system after un update. Pricing issues, for example, when negotiated airline tariffs don’t turn up in the system. And for new customers: helping them find their way. That happens when they haven’t had training yet. Today, they can catch up pretty quickly, though, with online sessions. That saves precious time.
And, broader, what challenges are your customers facing?
Speed, I think. And the impact of online. How change accelerates. Hey, even for me, it’s hard sometimes to keep up with all our new applications. I have got plenty of training to stay updated, though.
The people coming to travel agencies today are internet-savvy and have done their share of online research. They’re used to booking any ticket to anywhere, basically.
Helping our customers be where their customers are: that’s our task. So it’s good to see we enable them to offer mobile services, for example.
Where do you go when you want to unwind?
Home. (smiles) That’s Northern Spain. I find a lot of peace in going to my home village. It’s a very small one, in the county of Castilla y Léon. It’s where my parents lived.
When times got hard under Franco they left for Belgium to give our family a better future. That was a very brave thing to do, leaving everything behind. But they succeeded. That makes me very proud, up to this day. And grateful.
What is it that makes you want to go back to your roots?
I have travelled a lot around the world and I found travelling too far can make you forget where you come from. It’s right at your roots you’ll find some answers. It helps me to find harmony within myself too.
I can imagine another reason to go to Castilla y Léon. A tasty one.
(laughs) Ah, Ribera del Duero wines. Of course. They’re truly magnificent. I keep trying more wines whenever I get back there. But did you know the Santiago de Compostella route passes through there too? I’ll be walking it one day.
Well, I wish you a wonderful journey
You too. Thank you very much.
Wait, who’ll take this seat after you?
Right! Marco Kremer, then. I took an immediate liking to him, but I don’t know him that well. So let’s meet him!
Care to link up?Find Maria Martinez on LinkedIn here.
Customer Services Executive