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CXBuzz Interview With Julia Atwater, Head of CX at ATOS

Hi Julia, tell us about yourself and your background.

I’m the Head of Customer Experience, Communications, and Engagement for our Business Transformation Services division in Atos. My team is primarily responsible for transforming financial services and insurance organizations. I joined Atos ten years ago and have had a variety of client service delivery and communication and engagement roles. I took on this role leading our CX and Comms teams in the middle of the pandemic, so I have yet to meet the vast majority of my team! I feel incredibly lucky to be able to combine a mixture of my previous roles and experience and to work with such a fantastic and diverse group of people.

It’s a really exciting time to work in CX, and I am particularly keen to see how this will continue to evolve with employee experience and engagement. Joining Atos as a closeted graduate to now being an out and proud queer leader, diversity and inclusion are close to my heart. Embedding our inclusive design principles and culture into our CX, comms, and engagement activity is something I’m incredibly proud of. It’s a fantastic differentiator for us at Atos.

Outside of work, I’m based in York and keep myself busy playing rugby with York RI Ladies.

What is the biggest misunderstanding about customer experience, in your opinion?

I think the biggest misunderstanding is that it’s a fluffy ‘nice to have.’

In reality, we know it’s not a one-off initiative, it needs to be embedded as part of your service design and a fundamental part of your culture to continue to improve.

What are some of the newer CX companies/solutions you’re keeping your eyes on right now?

Adoreboard’s emotional analytics is something we’re currently exploring with a pension provider, and we are really excited to see the role it will play in our insight function going forward.

 What can companies do to improve customer loyalty and retention?

Involve your employees! Not just your front-line employees but everyone through to your back office. Improving customer experience shouldn’t be limited to a team of CX professionals, and you absolutely need senior leadership buy-in.

 What do you think is most relevant and why: CSAT (customer satisfaction score), NPS (net promoter score), or CES (customer effort score)?

I think there is value in all of these measures, but I’d pick Customer Effort Score. We’ve seen a huge increase in customer expectations throughout the last 12 months due to covid. People are busy, they’re stressed, and they want to be able to interact with your company and services as quickly and easily as possible. CES can effectively measure how good you are at creating that ‘easy to do business with’ experience.

How can companies better use social media in the era of customer-centricity and personalization?

We’ve all seen this in action with Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist. Expectations are higher than ever, and research from eMarketer shows 56% of people experienced a boost in engagement because of personalized marketing.

As a customer, if you have a personalized experience, you are going to feel more valued. User segmentation is key to this. Creating user personas based on a variety of data you already hold and then continuing to gather more data… Fortunately, collecting data about your users on social media can also be fun! Lots of brands are having success with simple quizzes that can be shared to a really wide audience. Who doesn’t love a quiz, right?!

There are plenty more ways to personalize on social media too. I’d also add having a clear and consistent tone of voice across any channel is going to be key.

Our CX team at Atos works hand in hand with our communications teams, our clients’ communications teams, and our communications partner Gallagher for a truly engaging experience.

What is your opinion on AI-based chatbots to handle customer support?

I think they’re a fascinating use of technology that can help free up customer support staff to add value to customers in a new way. I recently attended a presentation by, a new chatbot, Fintech, who is creating some exciting case studies in financial services. AI is only as good as the information going in, so organizations like need to be continually reviewing and assessing this. The stories of AI racial bias really worry me, and I think there is still a long way to go here.

What was the best movie you saw that has come out during this past year?

I went to the cinema for the first time in over a year last night to watch Nomadland, which was pretty special. Before that, the last film I saw in the cinema was Parasite, and all of the awards it has won are very well deserved.

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