Egypt’s Customer Service Manager reflects on 20 years in the industry and how he is still exploring new opportunities at Midea

Sameh Atef Profile Pic.png

“I’ve always felt I am good at talking with people. I enjoy meeting new people and I like to think I’m a good listener. So, it made sense for me to go into customer service,” says Sameh Atef, Midea’s Customer Service Manager in Egypt.

It does not take long talking to Sameh to see why he thought he was well suited to customer service. Even when he is being interviewed for this article, he is just as eager to get to know the interviewer as he is to talk about himself. When he does talk about his career, he speaks in such a way that it makes you feel like you are talking to an old friend.

Although Sameh appears to have been born for customer service, it wasn’t always the plan. "I graduated from Cairo University with a law degree in 2003. I worked for a lawyer for one year, but I quickly realized that it wasn’t for me. I decided to try customer service and applied for a position at Midea.”


Midea recognized that same potential for customer service in Sameh and he was offered a position as a customer service coordinator. Sameh has been with Midea ever since and he has seen his career grow alongside that with the success of the company. By 2007, Sameh was promoted to head of the compliance department, which coincided with the launch of the call center in Egypt and by 2015 he was promoted to customer service manager.


During his nearly 20 years working at Midea, Sameh has seen many changes in the field of customer service. Arguably, the biggest change has been the growth of social media and its impact on how Sameh and his team handle their customers.


“Before 2010, customers would just call you on your hotline if you had an inquiry or issue and the conversation was normally private. Now you have Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram. Customers will use all these platforms to reach you and it is all very public,” explains Sameh.


This change meant that Sameh and his team had to rethink how they approached customer service. “We are in the era of digitalization and we have to update our skills accordingly. Our social media accounts in Egypt have a lot of followers so we not only have to help the customer resolve their issue, but we also need to followup that the post is removed or updated if the customer is satisified."

At Midea, there is a strong emphasis on ensuring that staff have opportunities to develop their career and despite already being in the company for nearly two decades, Sameh was given the chance to explore an entirely new field in 2021. Sameh admits that when his manager first asked him to take on the role of Outbound Logistics Manager that he was surprised as anyone. “I told him, ‘I am a customer service manager. How can I deal with drivers and warehouses?’"


But even though customer service may have seemed completely unrelated to outbound logistics, Sameh’s manager saw in him the set of skills needed to succeed. “He told me, “Sameh, this is a challenge, but you are capable. You will be good.”


Sameh’s manager was right. It was a challenge at first for Sameh. “I was used to being in an office with customer service, but for outbound logistics I had to be on the ground. To succeed I had to be aware of each and every single step of the work. I had to be at the loading of the dock checking the trucks are full and I had to find a way to talk to the drivers and make them understand. It took me 6 months to gain that experience and then I had to make a whole team to transfer that experience to. I had to be learning and teaching at the same time.”


“It was like the movie Face/Off, “ jokes Sameh, “With one face, I had to be very calm and helpful to our customers and with the other face I had to be tough to deal with our service providers and truck drivers.”


A couple of years later and Sameh has gotten comfortable with his two faces with everything running smoothly both on outbound logistics and customer service.


Despite the success with outbound logistics, Sameh is still most at home with customer service and when asked if he would recommend someone to join Midea then he naturally starts to talk about the field in which he first joined the company. “If you are a good listener, if you like solving problems, if you like helping people, then you are exactly what we are looking for in customer service in Midea. This is a talent and not all of us have this skill,” says Sameh passionately.


Sameh feels just as strongly that Midea is a great company for someone looking for a long-term career. “Midea is a stable company. Here in Egypt we have passed through three crises in the past 15 years. We had the revolution in 2011, then the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, and now the currency devaluation. Many other companies have been badly affected by these crises, but this company has strong assets and a good management team that allows us to face all these challenges. It has roots in the ground.”


Equally as important to Sameh is that Midea is a company where anyone can come and make a career for themselves no matter who they are. “At Midea, it doesn’t matter what color is your skin, what language you speak, what gender you are, or if you have a disability. Anything is possible here.”


Sameh is not the kind of person to boast about his own accomplishments, but it is clear from talking to him how much working in Midea means to him. When he does reflect on what he has achieved, it makes Sameh think of his father and what he said to Sameh when was growing up.


“My Dad raised me to believe that everything is doable if you try. All my life I’ve felt like he was there next to me reminding me that if I keep trying then I can do everything,” reminisces Sameh with a heartfelt smile, “I remember when I was promoted to customer service manager. My Dad was so happy and so proud of me. It meant so much to me because it finally felt like what my Dad had been saying to me since I was a child had now come true.”