How to Overcome CX Team Turnover, Understaffing, and Seasonality


Having trouble staffing your CX team? Are you caught up in an endless cycle of turnover and training sessions followed by even more turnover and even more training? You’re not alone. 

It’s clear that building (and managing) efficient and happy CX teams are a key priority for businesses today. But, ongoing training, unpredictable volume, and a general shortage of qualified staff can make this extremely challenging. 

Simplr’s CMO Daniel Rodriguez and Zendesk’s Senior Manager of Co-Sourcing Timothy Esbe shared best practices for how to overcome common CX staffing hurdles you’ll likely confront this holiday season (and beyond) in a webinar we co-hosted on How to Overcome CX Team Turnover, Understaffing, Seasonality & More

Keep reading as we dive deeper into the strategies and solutions we discussed in the webinar. You can also watch it on demand

What are some of the biggest challenges you’re seeing right now when it comes to understaffing and turnover on CX teams? What advice do you have for hiring managers?

Customers are more demanding than ever. We call these the NOW Customers and we know three things about them: 

  • They expect customer service to be fast and on-demand.
  • They’re no longer forgiving brands for COVID-related delays (we did a big survey on this last year).
  • And finally, we know that brands aren’t equipped to handle them. In 2020, we conducted a market report with Forrester that found that only 30% of brands say their customer service is effective at responding to customers in a timely fashion. 

Deloitte reports that holiday sales could spike to 9% this year, we see the NOW Customer being one of the two biggest challenges to staffing up for the holidays.

The second challenge facing hiring managers is uncertainty. We hear that word a lot, and it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. But, here’s what’s causing that uncertainty:

  • The job market is competitive — Amazon is hiring 125,000 seasonal workers for the holidays and offering $3,000 sign on bonuses. Same with Sam’s Club, which is raising hourly wages to attract talent.
  • We’re also hearing from a lot of CX leaders that more than the average number of candidates start and then leave only a few weeks after training is done. This is where the uncertainty lies.

The combination of this all-encompassing, dominating NOW Customer and the uncertainty in the job market makes for one really big, really real challenge for companies looking to staff appropriately. 

That said, our advice for CX hiring managers is: 

  1. Consider a distributed staffing model: 
  • This is different from a traditional BPO model. It’s outsourced work that’s completely remote. 
  • Simplr’s Human Cloud Network is an example of this… It’s a network of US-based agents who work from home assisted by our machine learning and AI technology. 
  • Remember that BPOs are generally not distributed, and are susceptible to COVID-19 lockdowns and natural disasters, which are devastating obviously for the people involved, but also for the companies and customers they support.  
  1. Minimize overtime: Burn out is rampant right now. We think it’s appropriate to set reasonable expectations around scheduling. 
  1. Speed up your hiring process: When you see candidates you like, don’t take your time interviewing them and getting them an offer. It’s a competitive job market. So don’t let them get snatched up before you can give them an offer. Clear out any possible red tape before they get to it!

What advice do you have for CX leaders looking to grow their teams or make them more efficient? 

CX today is all about being proactive, rather than reactive. We’re in a new era of CX — we call it NOW CX. A lot of the traditional “rules” have gone out the window. This should inform how you grow your team, so that you’re not building something stagnant or dated. 

Build a team that focuses on metrics around revenue generation (like rate of repurchase, conversion rate, and customer effort). CX should be about making profits for the company, it shouldn’t be a cost center. 

You want a multi-skilled CX team that treats technology as a compliment, not a replacement to the team. For example, teams that have an understanding of the benefits and the shortcomings of chatbots choose to engage customers rather than divert them to other channels. In thinking this way, teams will become more efficient and get more executive buy-in.

When growing your CX team, look for problem-solvers who are going to build relationships and advocate for the customer. Don’t just look for people who are going to follow processes, recruit people who are going to make them better. 

Once you have the team you want, how can CX leaders avoid turnover? 

CX isn’t just about taking tickets. It’s about solving problems, creating stronger organizations, and building more profitable relationships with customers. When CX teams feel empowered as customer advocates, market researchers, and problem solvers, they are less likely to churn and more likely to have higher job satisfaction. Remember, your employee experience is just as important as your customer experience. 

We so often forget that work can be, and should be, fun! This isn’t an unreasonable goal for CXOs and CX leaders to achieve, even though the season itself is stressful.

That said, in order to avoid turnover and make work more fun, we recommend:

  • Outsourcing as much of the Tier 1 inquiries as possible. When you take a chunk of the menial work off your employees’ plates, you empower them to focus on being the voice of the customer, helping high-touch customers convert to sales, and thinking of new ways to help the company and, in turn, their own professional growth.
  • Get executive buy-in. When leadership is excited about the work your team is doing, employees feel more valued. Get HR and your CIO involved in making sure that employee onboarding experiences are top-notch. 

What are your biggest predictions for the 2021 holiday shopping season? 

Shipping delays and supply chain issues will be back, According to Business Insider, much of this is due to increased demand with more people shopping online than ever before. If you’re a retailer or shipping physical goods, you can expect higher ticket volume concerning shipping delays.

Customers will be less likely to forgive your brand for those shipping delays and supply chain issues. It’s important to consider when thinking about letting any SLAs slide. Stay proactive with your messaging about delays. We recommend homepage banners, personalized email updates, and live chat on every product page.

Email backlogs will be the biggest threat for CX teams. According to Simplr’s historical data, email backlogs can grow 7 times their original size in just two weeks if left unattended. This is detrimental to the customer AND employee experience. 

We recommend being VERY proactive about avoiding backlogs entirely by putting live chat on every page, keeping response times to under 12 hours (otherwise customers will write again, and pile onto the backlog).

Finally, we also want to emphasize that the risk to your brand is really scary here: every CEO cares immensely about their brand being badmouthed on social media. There will be winners and losers this holiday season, and solving for proactive rather than reactive CX through a NOW CX approach is the way to be a winner. 

Want to learn more? Watch the full webinar on demand

Talk to Simplr to discover how we can help resolve your staffing issues, eliminate backlogs for good, make 24/7 live chat with real humans possible, and much more.