SmartLink’s Safwan Khatib: Built-in Call Center Excellence

Safwan Khatib, SmartLink

When the Middle East Call Center (MECC) Awards 2010 were announced last year, one gentleman among the audience felt he was being personally celebrated. Safwan Khatib, who flew from Saudi Arabia to attend the event, was in fact behind some of the call centers that made the news that night. While others celebrated, he was harvesting the fruits of an inventive model of call center development in one of the region’s most dynamic economies.

Khatib is the executive director of Riyadh-based Al Khaleej SmartLink; a call center provider whose solution for NAS Airlines won last year’s MECC award for the Best Medium Call Center. Although that was not his first award, it represented further tangible proof of Khatib’s persistent approach of built-in excellence.

“At SmartLink, we thrive to maintain performance excellence and advanced quality throughout our operations, management and development of customer and reservation contact centers”, Khatib explains to Customer Middle East editors. “While we continue to develop our processes and performance levels in compliance with the globe’s best industrial standards, we are very proud of the world-class team of call center professionals that SmartLink built over years and their endless hours of hard work”.

A computer engineer by training, Khatib’s philosophy in designing call center solutions goes beyond technology to focus on real-world customer service. He looks back to his story with NAS and says: “We had three selling points that convinced NAS’ management to bank on our solution; honesty, commitment and smartness”. The way it works for him is pretty simple: “I tell my clients exactly what to expect from us and what we are capable of, and, then, we do our best to keep the promise to deliver smart solutions, using smart technologies to be operated by hand-picked, well-trained smart agents”.

While this model blends technology excellence with human professionalism, Khatib goes back to the basics of the customer service industry to define his ‘excellent’ call center. “If we don’t have the honest desire and will to satisfy customers then we have nothing”, he says, adding: “It’s all about the people”.

And since Khatib believes it’s manpower that counts at the end, he made a significant step ahead by partnering with INSIGHTS Middle East to offer full scale call center training for his agents and clients in the Kingdom. “We needed this partnership to unlock the potential of our solutions through the right level of training”.

Whether it is for customer service agents, supervisors or managers, SmartLink implements INSIGHTS’ state of the art Training Quality Assessment Application (SENTIO) that was developed based on the firm’s extensive experience in the modern call center industry.

Backed by Al Khaleej Group’ diversified business, Khatib was able to further utilize this partnership to serve a wide array of industries in the Saudi Arabian market; as part of SmartLink’s overall call center offering. Understanding the call centre environment like he does, a quality that allowed for the foundation of SmartLink back in 2005, it was both essential and natural for him to integrate training into the business offering.

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