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Eight Tips for Taking Your Entry-Level CX Career to the Next Level

Shoes climbing stairs This article is a collaboration between Nate Brown, Leslie O'Flahavan, and Justin Robbins.


We’re three customer experience professionals who’ve held different roles and walked different paths in our careers, but we share one perspective: If you’re just getting started in your CX career, we want to help you grow and flourish! 


Here are eight tips from seasoned veterans about how to take your entry-level CX career to the next level–and beyond!


Continue your development and education. 


Take advantage of the learning programs your company offers, including self-paced learning. Take all the in-house or LinkedIn Learning courses you can, especially if your current employer is paying for them! While you may eventually want to earn CX certification from an organization like CXPA, Forrester, or Medallia, don’t wait to start learning. Take leadership courses, communication skills courses, and data analysis courses. Show your employer you’re an avid learner.


Ask your peers, “How do you see me?” Ask, “Do you think I’m knowledgeable? What would you like me to do to be better?” 


Another great way to get peer-to-peer feedback is a 360-degree review. Many HR departments will offer this type of review to employees who request it. This review will solicit partially anonymous feedback from your peers and your leadership. It’s a great way to formalize the feedback, so you can work with your leader on the next steps.


Nate Brown shared this experience: “I was coaching a leader recently who asked his peers the ‘How do you see me?’ question. He received limited meaningful feedback, and took this to mean he was doing a great job. The truth was he hadn’t earned the feedback yet. His peers didn’t trust him enough yet to offer this gift. If people are responding to the ‘How do you see me?’  question with helpful suggestions, that is huge! This means the foundation of trust is there, which is the hardest part to establish.”


However you get the peer-to-peer feedback, knowing where you stand and taking intentional steps to establish great relationships will shape your career advancement.


Be on the lookout for trends in agent behavior. 


Sadly, many experienced CX leaders are too removed from the agent experience to understand why agents are burning out at record rates, how improved software could help them do their jobs better, or what kinds of work-life balance they need. 


Be the person who gets agent behavior. Understand how they think and feel. Be the one who can explain why agents do or don’t want overtime, for example, or which incentives are truly motivating.  If you understand the agent behaviors that baffle their managers, you’ll demonstrate you care about your peers and can solve tough problems.


Look for missing documentation and create or commission what’s needed to fill the gap. 


Documentation enables teams to do things the right way and do them consistently, both of which drive excellent CX. When documentation is missing, outdated, or inadequate, people can’t follow procedures, even if that is what they want to do. Taking responsibility for documentation is what leaders and other hard-working visionaries do. 


If you notice documentation is missing, speak up! If you’re able, volunteer to write it yourself or work with the team that owns the process and create the documentation together. You’ll learn a ton about how teams operate, and you’ll create a needed resource. Bosses will love you. 


Let your leaders know you want to move up. 


Without giving off a this-job-is-beneath-me vibe, let your boss and your boss’s boss know you’re looking for your next CX role, with more responsibility. If your annual performance review is behind you, and you missed that chance to share your ambitions with your boss, schedule an informal meeting to talk about your future soon. 


Find a mentor. Look for someone you don’t know (who doesn’t know you).


Here’s Nate’s story: “I was hired as a photographer at an event where Dave Ramsey (personal finance advisor and radio host) was speaking. In between photo snaps, I heard him mention that he had a mentor for EACH of the critical areas in his life. I was later reading Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone, and he spoke about having your own personal board of advisors: a group of people you trust to help you become the person you want to become. Your board of advisors can provide the advice, encouragement, and connections required to get you ‘unstuck.’


I’ve tried to incorporate this advice into my life. I have a pickleball mentor, a beekeeping mentor, a disc golf mentor, a family/marriage counselor, and several professional mentors with different focus areas, including Jeff Toister, Leslie O’Flahavan, and my father, Dan Brown. These are people you trust and that care about your growth.


Granted, a CX mentor can be difficult to find. To improve your chances, develop relationships with people all across your company, and at all levels. Demonstrate that you are someone who authentically cares about the unique mission of the organization and is ripe for growth.This mentality will draw the best mentor towards you!”


Build partnerships across the organization. 


Executives are desperate for people who can collaborate across the business. Few people have the knowledge, skill and emotional intelligence to make it happen. With a bit of strategic learning, you can be one of these bridge builders.


Nate explains: “I recently had the awesome opportunity to provide a career coaching workshop for a group of customer service workers. I shared Dharmesh Shah’s (co-founder of HubSpot) list of “9 Sensational Traits of Highly Promotable Employees


1. Are humble, not arrogant.

2. Are servants, not self-serving.

3. Are optimistic, not pessimistic.

4. Think execution, not just planning.

5. Think forever, not one day.

6. Are volunteers, not draftees.

7. Are self-aware, not selfish.

8. Are adaptable, not rigid.

9. Are teachers, not truant officers.


The list led to a delightful dialogue about the type of people who are able to build partnerships inside organizations. If you want to move up in your CX career, be the type of person who has colleagues and connections outside your immediate work group.”


Be fearless. 


Apply for everything. Submit an application for every step-up job at your company. Apply for jobs you’re clearly qualified for and ones you’re nearly qualified for. All that interviewing will build your confidence and help you package your explanation of what you’ve accomplished so far in your career and what you hope to accomplish in your next role. Even if you aren’t chosen for the reach jobs you’re applying for, you’ll be meeting tons of higher-ups and making a good impression. Let HR and other leaders at your company know you are hungry. (Thanks to Doug Rabold for this tip.)


Of course, to move up in your CX career, you won’t have to act on all eight of the tips we’ve offered here. That’d be a lot! Pick the ones that suit your personality and your goals. We’re wishing you all the best in your new role.

Nate Brown is a perpetual student of the world’s greatest experiences and the people who create them. Having spent the first decade of this career managing a complex technical support environment for Occupational Health and eLearning software, Nate transitioned to Customer Experience in 2015. After authoring The CX Primer, Brown was dubbed the “CX Influencer of the Year” by CloudCherry in 2019, and a top global CX thought leader by ICMI, Exceeders, Netomi, Martech and many more. As a passion project, Nate created CX Accelerator, a first-class virtual community for Customer Experience professionals. Nate currently serves as the Senior Director of Customer Experience for Arise Virtual Solutions and can be found at a variety of conferences speaking and training on the CX topics he loves.

Leslie O'Flahavan has helped thousands of people learn to write well for online customers. She delivers customized writing courses for frontline agents, social media managers, and contact center managers. She is a problem-solver for all the writing challenges faced by contact centers: email, chat, text, and social media. She helps contact centers train agents to write well, measure the quality of their writing, and rewrite their template libraries. In 2018, she completed an overhaul of customer service writing for a global airline’s domestic and international contact centers. Since 2015, Leslie’s been on ICMI’s Top 50 Thought Leaders on Twitter list. She's a LinkedIn Learning (Lynda.com) trainer for the courses “How to Write Customer Service Email,” “Serving Customers Through Chat and Text,” and “Serving Customers Using Social Media.” Leslie is also the author of Clear, Correct, Concise E-Mail: A Writing Workbook for Customer Service Agents. Connect with Leslie at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @LeslieO.


Justin Robbins is an analyst, consultant, and business strategist who helps contact center and customer experience professionals feel greater confidence in leading their teams to success. He has over 20 years of experience in contact center and customer experience operations, has delivered keynotes, training, and consulting services for 50+ Fortune 500 companies, and has served as a featured expert for NBC Nightly News, New York Times, Fox News, iHeartRadio, and NYT Business. He's an Executive Board Member at CX Accelerator, a non-profit community for Customer Experience professionals, and the Senior Director, Corporate Communications & Evangelism at UJET, where he leads their thought leadership programs.