Changes like turning to a new career or moving to a new state take a lot of courage, especially when the world keeps telling you there are many risks involved. Daniel Hitch, a Customer Support Specialist at Agoda Providence, provides a much-needed counter-narrative to conventional myths about career development and relocation. Shifting from leader to follower, sales to customer support, and one state to another, Daniel highlights that his dynamic journey with Agoda is all about being versatile and open-minded.
A couple months ago, Daniel moved from Connecticut to Rhode Island to join a newly opened office at the company that he had barely heard of. Daniel describes this seemingly rash move as rather a thrilling and proud decision.
“Admittedly, I hadn’t heard of Agoda before I applied. I knew nothing about Agoda leading the global online travel industry or having a great work environment. I was simply curious about it, so I did some research. Agoda is not a household name in the United States, but it being part of the Priceline Group definitely added credibility. The employee reviews on Glassdoor also put all my concerns at ease.”
Skill sets and aspirations matter more than a job title
Daniel spent the last five years before Agoda in the field of sales. Handling customer inquiries and complaints might sound a lot different from a go-getter job like sales, but Daniel believes that the key to success to both sales and customer experience is fundamentally the same. “I love meeting new people and helping them to solve a problem. Both sales and customer support jobs allow me to do so, but just in different ways.”
To the surprise of many, ensuring customer satisfaction requires as much proactivity (or sometimes even more of it) as sales. “Communication and negotiation skills that I gained from my previous experience in sales have been a great asset to my current job in customer support because here, it’s never enough to just listen to customers or follow company protocols. You need to actively coordinate with different stakeholders to keep everyone happy.”
It’s not a stressful job if you can feel what customers feel
Daniel believes his job is highly rewarding despite the common misconceptions. “A lot of people assume that a customer-facing job is tiring, but the job is really just about empathizing with people. Even when a customer calls and speaks rudely to me, I don’t get offended or stressed because I know it’s nothing personal. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes, and you’ll see what they’re angry or frustrated about. In the end, you’ll receive the countless thank-you’s from various customers – even from the ones who initially called you angry.”
“My most memorable customer was a would-be father who had to cancel his non-refundable reservation due to his wife’s pregnancy that he just found out. The hotel denied his request at first but made an exception in the end after I spoke with a manager several times. The customer called in very anxiously but hung up thrilled. He said he’ll use Agoda again once the baby is born and gets old enough to travel! It’s moments like this that really make me feel empowered and fulfilled.”
Living in a different place is another form of travel
Having worked in the travel industry for five years, Daniel has had a chance to discover beautiful places across the States, such as Silver Springs in Wisconsin. Daniel’s love of travel, however, doesn’t just stop at visiting a place for a few days. Before moving to Rhode Island to join Agoda’s Providence office, Daniel had lived in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Nebraska, Delaware, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Florida, and Connecticut.
Among different cities that he has resided, Daniel ranks Providence as one of his favorites. “Providence is relatively small but culturally diverse, with fun events happening almost everyday, almost all within walking distance. Alongside amazing food, the city has the most coffee shops per capita in the country, so it’s a perfect place for a big coffee drinker like me!”
Although Daniel now sees his transition in many aspects in a positive light, it wasn’t without uncertainty for him to decide to join a new company. “It’s definitely a big adjustment; I had my own concerns and expectations, too. But there is an incredible team of smart, friendly people here waiting to be there for you, so just come, let’s grow together and have fun together!”