Microsoft laid off roughly twelve people from its Xbox support staff and have replaced them with volunteers, a recent Polygon report has revealed.
The multinational technology company let go of the workers in favor of Xbox Ambassadors, volunteers who will adopt the former’s duties, answering support messages on the Xbox Support Twitter and via an online chat tool.
The former Xbox Support Staff actually trained the new Xbox Ambassadors prior to leaving the company. While the volunteers won’t be paid monetarily, they will be rewarded for their time with Microsoft points, new clothing for their avatars and entries into prize drawings. As Xbox fans may know, in order to become an Ambassador, the player must purchase an Xbox Live Gold subscription and have a 1,500 Gamer Score while having no infractions during the past year.
Regardless, despite the layoffs, Microsoft responded to Polygon with the following statement:
“We continue to have a number of highly-trained customer support agents, plus community ambassadors, available to help customers with their needs”.
However, it would appear the Xbox Ambassadors will be utilized as the company’s main source of customer support.When pressed further about the layoffs, Microsoft didn’t respond. The firm who employed the former Support Staff, Affirma Consulting, also didn’t comment on the matter.
It is unclear as to how the emphasis on voluntary support will affect the quality of the customer service as a whole. At the time of writing, the latest Tweets from the Xbox Support Twitter have been retweets from Microsoft Director of Programming Larry Hyrb and the Xbox Ambassadors Twitter page, both dated back to May 22nd. There appears to be scarce interactivity with Xbox users on both the aforementioned Twitter support page and the Ambassador’s Twitter page.
This story has ignited conversations across the web as to the ethical implications of letting go of paid staff and replacing them with unpaid workers. Many are viewing this in a negative light, feeling that it’s unfair that the Ambassadors are not getting paid for their work and some even questioning their incentive to work because of this. Only time will tell as to how this story will unfold and whether Xbox will respond to these concerns.