Master the First 100 Days as a Customer Service Leader

Customer service and support leaders can use this six-phase approach to set themselves up for success in their new role.

You’ve just accepted a role as a customer service and support (CSS) leader at a global chemical company. You approach the first days on the job with trepidation because you know that during this “honeymoon” phase you will have to learn about the organization, make a strategic plan and understand the existing challenges. 

New CSS leaders — whether new to the role or a seasoned professional starting at a new company — must establish a personal brand rooted in credible leadership and lay the foundation for a sound customer service operation that delivers excellence in customer experience.

Successful new leaders communicate early and often to build strong relationships with their new teams and cross-functional partners

“Success in this role requires upfront collaboration with multiple stakeholders,” says Kim Dans, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner. “Customer service leaders must think and act balancing cost with customer experience, bringing an equal measure of strategic, tactical and relationship-building skills to the service organization.”

CSS leaders can secure early wins and future performance by following a six-phase roadmap as they transition into their new role. Each phase, some of which overlap, includes critical target outcomes, actions and resources.

Gartner's first 100 days as a customer service and support leader roadmap.

Prepare (Days -10 to 15)

Prior to your first day, make sure you have a thorough understanding of the role; the industry; the organization’s strategy; what’s expected of you; and the key skills and experience you bring to the organization. Use these early days to connect with key people within and outside of your organization.

Communicate (Days 0 to 100)

The Communicate phase spans the full duration of the first 100 days. Successful new leaders communicate early and often to build strong relationships with their new teams and cross-functional partners. Be sure to not only communicate your observations and service vision, but also realistic, measurable, timebound goals.

Assess (Days 0 to 30)

During this phase, gain insight into how the members of your team perceive the organization and how the team is perceived by others — both inside and outside of the organization. “At this point, challenges and opportunities may arise, but don’t be tempted to jump right into resolving them,” says Dans. Use this time to compile a list of the top challenges and opportunities to be addressed during your first three to six months. 

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Plan (Days 15 to 45)

Without a solid plan, CSS leaders lack the solid direction and vision needed to be successful. During this phase, broaden your assessment of the organization to build a comprehensive plan for the future. Create a customer service strategic roadmap to share with key management. Gain the crucial buy-in needed to see the plan through to fruition. “Be sure to include a few quick wins that will build credibility,” says Dans.  

Act (Days 30 to 80)

Now is the time to put your plan into action. Watch progress closely to make sure that obstacles are dealt with swiftly. Continue gathering information internally to iterate the longer-term plan. Additionally, prepare to continuously improve processes for the customer experience and for the organization.

Measure (Days 45 to 100)

The Measure phase overlaps significantly with the Act phase and is your opportunity to demonstrate the evidence of your impact. This ensures that you get credit for your success. The feedback you receive between these two phases also enables you to adjust activities and deliverables determined in the Act phase, ensuring that they produce the desired results. 

This article is based on insights that are part of an in-depth collection of research, tools, templates and advice available to Gartner clients.

 

Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders clients can read The Customer Service Executive’s First 100 Days

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