In the past few weeks, each and every one of us had their lives turned upside down. Something that seemed so very distant not so long ago, soon became a part of our everyday. Rituals and schedules changed, socializing and work were moved into the digital world, and many found themselves in a fusion of new roles, suddenly becoming a colleague, parent, and teacher. Nobody was left unfazed by the current situation, and it takes quite a bit of adjustments to make it work. In this story we get to know some initiatives started by A1 and connected to Corona and meet colleagues from A1 Slovenia and Vip mobile who share their insights on how they are coping with their new routines. Get inspired!

To adapt to the new reality as much as possible, we needed to bravely bypass many obstacles on our path, and boost the trends that until recently we only quietly talked about. Therefore, in Slovenia we launch a new channel for our customers in this time – a virtual shop. Work from home has been a constituent part of the work process for a great majority of our colleagues for a number of years, and now we also made it possible for the call center agents and the customer support service.

However, we all became even more acutely aware of the significance of social responsibility and how important it is to give back to the community in which we live and work. Enabling connectedness. We responded to numerous of initiatives, providing for the education of pupils and students who, due to different situations, were not able to access the internet. And for the elderly, who can find social isolation to be much more difficult and uncomfortable during these times, we have set up a call center that enables them to bond and stay in touch with the outside world. We are aware that we are not at the front lines, but we are doing everything in our power.

Living with the coronavirus is complicated, hindered … different, but if we take a step back, we can see that perhaps what we are experiencing right now might help us see what is really important. We will feel gratitude for the solidarity, the help, and are now even more aware that it is the small things, that create the most heartfelt stories in these extraordinary times. Read some of these special moments, how A1 heroes from Slovenia and Serbia face the changed circumstances these days:

Jerneja Krapše (A1 Slovenia, Solution Advisor for Residential Customers)

What are the responses of our customers now that even call center agents work from home?
From my experience, the customers do not notice the difference; they do not know we work from home. I did have a customer or two when my 4-year-old Matija really needed something, and the caller on the other side of the line heard him, but she was very understanding. She even found it cute that I have a little helper. Those who figured out that we have a call center at home are startled at how we make it work and are also very quick at understand that not everything can be accomplished immediately. In short: they are very positive and encouraging about this.

Did you come across any stories that really touched you?
I had a case when an older lady called with a shaking voice, fearing that we would switch off her service, if she didn’t pay her bill. Together we then found the option through the Moj A1 self-care portal. And about 10 minutes later the lady was blessing me and all of my family for a while. This is what I love about working in the call center: the satisfaction of resolving the challenges that users find insurmountable.

Jovana Stajcic (Vip mobile, Customer Service Agent)

How much has your job changed compared to the period before Corona?
A lot has changed, since I work from home for the first time and like others I left the comfort zone, everyday routine. This change brought me more time for my hobby – sewing. As a sewing beginner, I joined the humanitarian cause for sewing the masks for our health staff. Knowing that I can help people in the front line, using my hobby and spare time, is amazing!

How much is communication with customers different now?
It’s not that different, actually. Our customers trust us and know that we will find a solution for any difficulty they have, even now.

What is the first thing you will do after the state of emergency?
I am already preparing for coming back to the office and for that occasion I am sewing my very first skirt! I can’t wait to hug all my loving colleagues and friends.

Jan Sušnik (A1 Slovenia, Senior Outbound Agent at the Virtual shop)

We recently opened our first Virtual shop in Slovenia. How are customers responding to the new user experience?
So far, everyone was very excited. They especially liked that they can do everything in person from the comfort of their home screen, without the need for any gloves, masks (or helmets). :)

How did you get used to the new situation and the changed circumstances?
I transformed into a live sales agent very quickly, practically overnight. I found, for example, that men can also be good at multitasking. When selling the products and explaining the details about them to our customers, it is not enough to include gestures and facial expressions, as I also incorporate switching between cameras, so that shots line up like in an action film. :)

Do you have any interesting stories that happened to you since you’ve been working in the virtual shop? Anything unusual or a blooper?
The biggest blooper so far was my live presentation of our Kombo plans. During the presentation the customer interrupted me, asking whether the mood at our liveshop is extra spicy and hot – the TV in the background was playing The Wolf of Wall Street, and you can probably imagine which scene was on.

Dušan Dimitrijević (Vip mobile, Territory Shop Manager)

How is the atmosphere at work these days?
Positive for sure! No pressure, team work and being there for each other!
At first it was challenging both for customers and us, but we got used to all very quickly.

How much has your job changed comparing the period before state of emergency?
I’m managing fewer number of shops, so it seems as there is less to do, but there are some new tasks, like driving my colleagues to work and back home, since the public transport is closed.

What is the first thing you will do after the state of emergency?
I will make barbecue gathering for all my colleagues that will last until late at night.

Bojana Ponjavic (Vip mobile, Operational Expert in Customer Service)

You have always worked in the office. How does it feel to work from home now?
It’s different. I enjoy not going by a crowded bus every day, I’m never late for work, I can work in my PJs, at the terrace while listening to the music I like. The advantage is also that I can organize my working time and make a break when I feel tired. The only thing I miss is good laugh with my colleagues and hanging with them. Though we laugh in our video calls, I miss the coffee at the rooftop of our HQ.

Do customers’ requests differ in these circumstances?
The requests are pretty much the same, but our treatment has changed towards customers since we know that they are limited going out of their homes. We are trying to make this situation easier for them and help them buy or pay bills online or find other solution if they cannot use alternative channels.

What is the first thing you will do after the state of emergency?
Aaah this is hard question – shopping or going to restaurant – difficult choice :-), but I will probably first go to see my dear friends and then to the river side to have some good cake or ice cream.

Jure Podpečan (A1 Slovenia, Field Technician)

What is the situation on the ground? How are customers responding to the arrival of technicians?
Fieldwork is a very mixed bag these days, as we never know where we will come, if the customers provided us with the correct information on their health, if they aired their house or apartment, if they have a mask, what work will be needed, and how long we will remain at the location. However, the response is positive, and when we call a customer before arriving at their location, we explain our corona-related requirements.

How has your work changed in this time, and which challenges are you facing in these conditions?
The field has not changed significantly, except for the extra attention paid to hygiene and disinfection. I also notice that because of the quarantine the customers have become far more communicative recently, and this means we have to be much better informed about all issues, not just the technical work we do. In my case, the biggest change is at home, where I never lack challenges, as now I also have be a teacher, a telecommunications expert, a father, a husband, an occasional cook, a field technician and a savage, so I can also teach my kid to goof around. Yeah, can’t do without that. :)

Ivana Simanovic (Vip mobile, Shop Advisor)

How is the atmosphere at work these days?
We are doing our best to keep the atmosphere positive and cheerful. Only laugh and positive energy!

How much has your job changed comparing the period before state of emergency?
Not much has changed, except we work while wearing mask and gloves and have physical distance to our customers. Other things remain the same: customer requests, interests, needs…Maybe some extra need for the internet, which is normal considering the situation, but that’s all.

What is the first thing you will do after the state of emergency?
First I will have a cup of coffee or two or three at different cafes and then treat myself with some great spa weekend.

Vip mobile people have always been brave, engaged and proud to be Vip. Teamwork and trust they have been growing among themselves for years are well-known. But the courage, solidarity and collegiality they demonstrated during this corona crisis is unbelievable and priceless! They continue to help and support each other, having in mind customers that need to be connected, to communicate and stay in touch with the loved ones, more than ever! Knowing they are depending on our services, help overcoming any obstacles.

Stay healthy!