Everyday Heroes – Catherine Byrne and Robert Kavanagh

18 March 2021

Most people would probably recognise and associate open eir with our technicians out on the road, in their open eir vans. However, we also have an incredible team of back office employees that make everything we do on our network possible. One of the main elements of this is our open eir Customer Care center, employees in the centre support all of our wholesale customers and ensure these customers have a positive experience with open eir.

This week in our series highlighting our work in  keeping Ireland connected, we caught up with two of our open eir Customer Care Team members, Catherine Byrne, Technical Support Agent, and Robert Kavanagh, Technical Support Team Leader.  Both Catherine and Robert and their teams support the major telecommunication providers both nationally and internationally by keeping their customer base happy. This includes organising broadband installation, large corporate infrastructure installation and fault repairs.

Catherine and Robert have 9 years of technical experience in open eir between them, this allows them to lead and work with their team members in handling issues that are complex and involve many parties, while ensuring minimal impact or downtime to any customers.

Catherine started with open eir in 2016 and supports our customers via calls and email. Calls from other operators and can be quite technical so on a good day Catherine can get through 60 calls. Email on the other hand has a quicker turnaround and as a team they get through 100’s a day. Robert is our Data Team Leader and started in 2017, he looks after high-bandwidth orders for core and corporate customers. Both Catherine and Robert, and their teams have found that their workload has increased significantly since the start of the pandemic, specifically queries regarding the availability of fibre. This follows the trends we’ve seen right across our network as demand for fibre broadband continues to grow as many people continue to work and study from home. Catherine highlights that the reliance for broadband extends beyond just work requirements but to a constant daily demand for work, education and entertainment needs.

Along with the increased demand, the pandemic created another challenge that Catherine and Robert could not have anticipated this time last year, the change to 100% working from home.  They normally work in a call centre working environment - large space, sound of inbound calls, chatter and noise from 50+ colleagues, group thinking, team building, catch ups at the coffee station, plans for five a side football or quick bite to eat, then ‘bang’ all things change…..  

Catherine says “The zoom calls do help,  it isn’t all work related, everyone can let loose for an hour a week at the very least. We also maintain relationships with one another outside of the zoom meetings through our internal chat system, but aside from that, there are no changes to the workload and productivity. It’s business as usual and being able to do that in the comfort of your home, you’ll hear no complaints from me!

Robert misses working in the call centre too, saying “working from home was great at the start, but then you suddenly realise the whole point of a working environment is to be surrounded by colleagues. It creates a healthy environment keeping a nice work-life balance.  There are pros and cons of course, working from home has created a lot of flexibility but I do  miss being able to walk over to my colleagues desk to have a quick chat, be it about work or anything

The good news is that once restrictions are lifted, both Catherine and Robert will create a work life balance for themselves and their teams in terms of splitting their working week between the office and home, a positive outcome from the massive changes we have experienced in the past year.

When asked to describe their role in open eir with just three words Robert was quick to respond with “Rewarding - you’re constantly learning, Teamwork - Everyone brings their own piece to the table and Progression- if you really put in the work there are endless paths you can take within open eir.”

Catherine had a similar response saying “Friendly, Rewarding and Teamwork. Nobody’s left out in the cold, everyone helps everyone. We’re like a community; everyone you meet is so helpful, first time I’ve ever been a part of that.