Q&A: Horatio’s SVP of E-commerce and Operations – Rita Saoud
Rita has been working in the customer experience industry for over 15 years, with extensive experience in managing global teams and multinational accounts. She joined Horatio as a business manager director in 2019, after coming across the company’s profile on Instagram and noticing that a former colleague, Jose, was one of the company’s co-founders. Her life experience has informed the international worldview she brings to the job. She was born and raised in Lebanon, moved to France for college, and finally settled in the Dominican Republic. She is also fluent in four languages: Arabic, English, French, and Spanish. In addition to her job at Horatio, Rita is a wife, a mother of four kids and 2 dogs, and loves cooking!
On her morning routine
My morning usually starts before 5 am. Three different alarm clocks ensure that this is the case. After waking up, I have my morning coffee and get ready for work. Horatio’s dress code is pretty relaxed, which means I do not have to spend much time thinking about what to wear! This may sound trivial, but considering all the decisions I have to make throughout the day, I value not having to make one about what to wear. Generally, I am out of the house by 6:30 am and at the office by 7:30 am. Once I arrive at the office, I check Slack and set off to defining my priorities for the day. Most of my day is spent between client meetings and internal team meetings with our leadership team and associates.
On keeping her sanity when the schedule is insane
Balancing a full-time job while being a wife and a mother of four can be demanding. At work, sometimes it gets very busy with meetings and urgent stuff that require my immediate attention and with 4 kids it becomes very challenging, but being a working mother makes you highly skilled at identifying what is urgent over what is not – what requires your immediate attention and what can be put on hold. My husband and I work as a team and we always make sure to spend quality time with our kids and support each other’s careers.
On the impact of the Covid-19 crisis
Horatio has experienced significant growth this year. Our team currently consists of over 160 employees and over 13 team leaders, who are responsible for the day to day management of our client relationships. When I initially joined Horatio, I monitored team leaders closely. But as my responsibilities have continued to increase, delegating, which does not come naturally to me, has become essential.
We have also become closer as a family and have definitely taken advantage of technology to over communicate. After all, it is easier to organize a cocktail hour over Zoom than an in-person one. The company has also become acutely aware of its capacity to act as an agent for the common good. Horatio now works with local charities in the Dominican Republic, and we have also set up funds to help those who have been directly affected by Covid-19.
On redefining customer service as a source of revenue
The customer experience industry is an ever-growing industry. Innovation is key in this industry, but unfortunately, when it comes to customer service, businesses have been slow to innovate. Have you recently contacted the customer service department of any company? I recently did and spent over two hours on the phone (the company did not offer any other alternatives that would have allowed me to receive immediate assistance, such as live chat) trying to get in touch with a customer service representative. Unfortunately, many companies approach customer service as an afterthought and, instead, prioritize and invest in those parts of the business that directly affect their financial bottom line. But thinking of customer service as separate from revenue growth is a mistake. In a highly competitive market, customer service is often what determines whether a customer makes a purchase and whether he or she comes back for more. The pandemic has only managed to reinforce this fact, as spending choices are made on tighter budgets. Over the past couple of months, we have spent a lot of time ensuring that all of our clients have a robust omnichannel strategy to be able to meet their customers’ needs and continue generating revenue.
On her hobbies
I love reading! Fiction books like Harry Potter, The Wizard of Oz, and The Narnia Chronicles are books that I have read multiple times, in different languages. These books are the best opportunity to spend time with my kids as they love to read them too. The Art of War is a book that I go back to all the time and is currently the one I am reading.
I’m from Lebanon, a country famous for its food and my family loves to cook! My favorite recipe is tabouleh which is a traditional Lebanese salad that contains parsley, onions, tomatoes, and ground wheat.
Horatio is a leading provider of white-glove customer experience and omni-channel support services. At Horatio, we like to say “do what you do best, and hire Horatio to do the rest.” Horatio partners with high-growth and innovative companies to develop their customer support strategy and provides a dedicated handpicked team to execute. Horatio’s number one focus is on providing high-touch, brand-focused customer support. Our team is equipped with state-of-the-art technologies and expertise to ensure a great customer experience every time.