10 Best CX Leaders to Watch 2024

CX Leader Roy Atkinson of Clifton Butterfield, LLC: I tend to find similarities rather than differences.

I Tend to Find Similarities Rather than Differences, and I always Look for Patterns that Point the Way toward Improvement: CX Leader Roy Atkinson of Clifton Butterfield, LLC

“My focus is on the ways in which technology can improve CX and EX. Technology is always an enabler, not an end in itself.”

Roy Atkinson, CEO of Clifton Butterfield, LLC, is a recognized thought leader in customer experience, service management, and IT. He is a Fellow of the Institute for Digital Transformation and wrote the Customer Experience chapter as a contributing author for the Institute’s book, Digital Transformation Demystified. He is a member of the HDI Strategic Advisory Board, and his expertise has been featured internationally on podcasts, webinars, and at conferences. His extensive background includes customer-facing roles in banking, retail, manufacturing, hospitality, and IT. 

Clifton Butterfield is an award-winning business advisory practice. It’s headquartered in Lyman, South Carolina.

SME Business Review reached out to Mr. Atkinson for an interview, and here’s what he had to say.

Interview Highlights

How would you describe your professional journey so far? Tell us about a few roadblocks and learning lessons that helped you grow through the years.

I have been lucky enough to work with and for some exceptional leaders and managers. In one of my first jobs (high school), I worked at one of the busiest supermarkets in the world. The owner was a young man who had grown up in the business and who understood how to make the store work; he also understood how to treat employees and how to make hard work just a little bit fun. I learned about customer service—and its limits—from him as well. Although no one called it customer experience back then, he certainly had a sense of the way customers would perceive the store and experience shopping there, and he paid attention to customer and employee feedback.

On the other hand, I worked for a very large corporation that allowed harsh competition between departments, took little notice of what employees thought, and sometimes treated its customers poorly without any attempt to improve. It made my work there difficult since I was in the position of having to deal with the fallout from unhappy B2B customers.

What strategies do you implement to enhance the overall customer experience?

We help organizations understand what they can gain from experience-based strategies, how employee experience and customer experience are connected, and why honest self-assessment is critical for both CX and EX.

How do you handle customer feedback and use it to make improvements?

Customer feedback, also known as the voice of the customer, is a key ingredient for organizations to improve CX and also drive internal improvements. Capturing the feedback in its raw state is important, and sharing the feedback across internal functions and departments is the next step. Obviously, an organization cannot act on every single comment, suggestion, or complaint, but we need to watch for trends and insights that can only come from the customer perspective.

As one of the most recognized thought leaders in IT, service management, and customer service, what are your key focus areas?

My focus is on the ways in which technology can improve CX and EX. Technology is always an enabler, not an end in itself. As an example, I would point to the promise of conversational AI’s ability to eliminate customer service queues in the near future by handling the lion’s share of basic customer inquiries.

As a CX leader, how has your experience been working across diverse industries?

I have found that the principles remain the same, even though the specific methods and applications differ. I tend to find similarities rather than differences, and I always look for patterns that point the way toward improvement.

Who do you look up to or consider as your role model, and in what ways has that person influenced your professional development and career growth?

There are many who I would name as role models, including leaders I have had the privilege of working for. Currently, I think of Hank Marquis and Barclay Rae on the IT and service management side, and Shep Hyken and Nate Brown on the CX side. I also look up to the brilliant Genefa Murphy, who understands CX from a marketing perspective.

What are your future aspirations, both personally and professionally?

I would like to write a book from my own perspective. I am currently working on one as part of a series with other authors, but something of my own is very appetizing. Personally, I would like to spend more time with my other passion, cars. I am just finishing my term as president of the Southeastern British Motorcar Owners Club.

Is there anything you would like to add before we wrap up?

Just my thanks for considering me for this honor!

Roy Atkinson: Shaping the Future of Customer Experience and IT Service Management

Roy Atkinson stands as a renowned figure in the field of customer experience leadership, recognized as a distinguished expert in IT service management. Celebrated for his substantial contributions, particularly in the IT sector, he has dedicated his career to uplifting customer service and experience standards. Roy possesses a rich professional background that encompasses writing, public speaking, and consulting, with a primary focus on various facets of customer experience, service management, and technical support.

As an accomplished writer, Roy has authored a multitude of articles and publications, sharing profound insights and best practices aimed at augmenting customer satisfaction and optimizing service delivery. His expertise extends beyond the written word, as he is frequently sought after as a keynote speaker at prominent industry conferences and events. During these engagements, Roy explores the latest trends, challenges, and strategic approaches in the customer experience space.

Roy holds a master’s certificate in advanced management strategy from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business and several industry certifications.

“We help organizations understand what they can gain from experience-based strategies, how employee experience and customer experience are connected, and why honest self-assessment is critical for both CX and EX.”