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Q & A: Neil Russell-Smith, Head of Marketing EMEA, TTEC

TTEC is a pioneer in customer experience, digital transformation and technology solutions. As Head of Marketing for Europe, Middle-East and Africa at TTEC, Neil is responsible… View Article


Q & A: Neil Russell-Smith, Head of Marketing EMEA, TTEC

TTEC is a pioneer in customer experience, digital transformation and technology solutions.

As Head of Marketing for Europe, Middle-East and Africa at TTEC, Neil is responsible for the development and execution of TTEC’s marketing strategy and value proposition across all channels and verticals in the EMEA region. For over 15 years he has planned and led comprehensive marketing strategies with a proven record of accomplishment across various industries and geographic markets.

What does your company do? / What is your USP?

TTEC is a pioneer in customer experience, digital transformation and technology solutions. We work with our clients to assess every consumer touchpoint and then put in place the best people, technology, processes and mindset needed to make their brand’s customer experience truly outstanding.

What’s special about the platform and your approach?

We drive business results with omnichannel CX Technology. Our Humanify® Journey Orchestration’s cloud based platform allows companies to deliver a true customer centric omnichannel experience. Customers are guided along a course based on real-time insights and data, across all digital touchpoints. It’s Customer Engagement Hub allows our clients to orchestrate seamless interactive journeys across existing systems, touchpoints and data, enabling them to create interactive and engaging customer-led experiences for the ultimate in personalised services.

How does a product/service implementation actually look like and how do you measure success?

Well, we deliver outcome-based customer engagement solutions so we have a very consultative approach with each client we work with. After those initial consultations, we’ll then allocate the appropriate customer experience experts from one or both of our internal ‘centres of excellence’, depending on the clients desired outcomes.

Our TTEC Digital experts help blend strategic consulting services and cloud-based technology platforms to design and build innovative customer experiences, all powered by insights. TTEC Engagement experts will provide contact centre associates with empathy and sensibility, who support our clients existing customers, attract new customers, and protect their customers from digital fraud or malicious content. Every organisation we work with also has a dedicated Account Manager.

Success is measured in many ways, whether that be specific KPI’s, increasing revenue, building loyalty, or growing our client’s business, all of which contributes to our vision of creating and growing emotionally connected, valuable, lasting relationships.

How are retailers using your systems to gain competitive advantage and what does best practice look like?

Recent examples include a European client who around the holiday period noticed a phone system dilemma, with their outdated system failing 3 times in one year. To help we migrated the client to an enterprise solution spanning two data centres. Another retail client had just acquired a medium-sized company that brought onboard dozens more branches, all using different phone systems. In this situation we helped implement a UCCE (unified contact centre enterprise) for contact centres and a voice portal in the branches.

What advantage does it add?

In the case of two earlier examples, then the advantages are palpable. The clothing retailer with an outdated system could meet peak holiday demands with 100% availability, even during peak times of 3x volume, provide an expedited service for its customers, and ensured misdirected calls were not dropped, instead routed directly to waiting associates

The second example features the world’s largest pest company who unified their phone system and increased revenue by reducing to three call centres down from ten, increase their call volume and decrease calls lost, which led to heightened profits. In addition, it took them only 6 weeks for a corporate headquarter move and consolidation of its ten call centres.

What challenges and opportunities do you see in UK retail for 2019 / What challenges are retailers facing in 2019?

Retailers know they need to transform their business, but the question is how?  In the wake of Amazon’s path to dominance and massive store closures, retailers are witnessing a transformation of customer expectations and experiences. In 2018 alone, Deloitte state 7,500 stores closed in the U.K., a 36 percent increase from 2017 and we are seeing more of this in 2019 with Debenhams announcing certain stores closing and most recently Gerry Webber announcing its UK and Ireland stores will close by October. There are lessons to learn from Amazon’s path to greatness, and there are many things retailers can do even better to move forward.  As retailer’s rush to adopt similar digital capabilities, the winners will be the customer experience leaders who prioritise the moments that matter for their shoppers.

How will you address these challenges and turn them into successes?

We see 5 ways retailers can address these challenges and create a standout customer experience:

1. Begin identifying the customers who would offer the most value by receiving an individualised omnichannel experience and build out pilots from there.
2. Create a customer service program based on frequent problems and be aware of peak hours to build a strong support system for even the smallest of inconveniences.
3. Consider the wider reach VR and AR has on users’ mobile devices and how your brand TIP can be experienced on-the-go or at home.
4. After identifying the issues and values that matter to your core customers, provide regular updates on the impact your company is making as well as ideas on how customers can get involved.
5. Think of in-store services that offer value and experiences that aren’t easily replicated in other channels.

What is on the horizon for you as a company?

Growth! We’ve seen our recent growth across Europe come from rising demand for digitising and automating the customer experience, especially those brands in the disruptive, hypergrowth business market. As a result, TTEC recently established a customer experience operation in Athens, Greece, creating 250 new positions and extending its dialect capability with English, German, Italian and Spanish speakers for client programmes originating in Europe and around the world. Furthermore, we’ll be expanding into Portugal, Morocco and offshore locations such as Colombia in the coming weeks.

Any final thoughts?

Yes – to learn more about TTEC, check us out at our European microsite. Visit

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