Aptec boosts Saudi service

Regional distribution powerhouse Aptec has underlined its long-term commitment to Saudi Arabia with the announcement that it plans to launch an advanced automated call centre for customers in the Kingdom.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  May 22, 2005

Regional distribution powerhouse Aptec has underlined its long-term commitment to Saudi Arabia with the announcement that it plans to launch an advanced automated call centre for customers in the Kingdom. The company is also in talks with key vendors on the potential for them to outsource aspects of their service delivery requirement to Aptec. With Aptec’s operation in Saudi Arabia undergoing significant changes in recent months, some rivals and resellers have been quick to question the distributor’s commitment to the Kingdom. It is channel chatter that Ali Baghdadi, president and CEO at Aptec, is keen to silence once and for all. “We have restructured operations in Saudi Arabia and it took a while for us to install Hesham Elabd in the Kingdom to run the operation,” explained Baghdadi. “While we did these changes it was tough for our customers and the responsiveness of Aptec may have declined slightly. We restructured the product lines that we distributed for HP in Saudi Arabia to focus more on PCs and peripherals and less on printers. When people saw this change and did not receive a proper explanation they started coming up with their own conclusions.” “Aptec is investing significantly in Saudi Arabia because we truly believe it is one of the markets with the biggest potential in the region,” continued Baghdadi. “I have started visiting Saudi on a regular basis as have other senior management. We have now decided to use Aptec’s operation in the Kingdom as a test bed for a new model of distribution based on a completely new services structure.” Aptec now plans to introduce an automated call centre into its Saudi sales infrastructure. The call centre, which will be operated by Saudi nationals, will be one of the most advanced in the region and will link seamlessly with many of Aptec’s existing IT systems and processes. “We have had a great deal of help from Microsoft and telecoms companies to establish the CRM systems and link it into the phone systems and databases,” added Baghdadi. “The system is having a soft launch this week with the call centre closely linked to account management, product management and sales management.” In conjunction with the launch of its advanced call centre, Aptec also plans to boost its post-sales service and support offering in the Kingdom. This could include the expansion of Aptec’s service centre to fulfil warranty obligations and meet service level agreements on the products being sold into the market. “Our regional services director has visited Saudi and is in talks with suppliers such as Acer, APC, Fujitsu-Siemens and HP on how we can provide proper service for their products in the Kingdom,” said Baghdadi. “In parallel to that we are looking at other outsourcing and call centre services for some of the vendors and customers we work with.” Aptec’s restructuring in Saudi Arabia is indicative of the need for regional distributors to develop a model that seamlessly combines centralised logistics and sales and marketing alongside excellent in-country services and true local touch. According to Baghdadi, Aptec’s first quarter sales came in at close to US$80m with margins in line with expectations. “The only way that volume distributors can improve margins is by growing their services offering,” concluded Baghdadi.

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