Culture: The Key to a Winning CX Team

Hey CX Aficionados,

It’s that post-BFCM slump you're feeling. I know it quite well. 

The increase in sales and adrenaline kept you going, but now we’re back to fighting with USPS about lost-in-transit packages, reshipping beaten-up boxes, and praying to the shipping gods to have mercy on us this gift-giving szn.

This email comes to you from The George in Montclair, NJ, after spending the night here for the JRB holiday party last night. 

I’ll be hosting a little “Jew-ish” holiday shindig with the Air Team in Brooklyn tonight. This is the first time I’ve done back-to-back night outs in a decade. 😵‍💫

If you're feeling a little down in the dumps and need some inspiration and motivation, you've come to the right place.

This week's newsie has tips and tricks you need to turn your customer experience team into a magical place to work, as well as a well-oiled, customer-pleasing machine. 

So grab a double shot of coffee (or your beverage of choice) and prepare to level up your game.

  1. Passing the Buck: a lifetime of a CX team in 90 days

  2. How a Financially-Efficient-First Mindset kills teams 

  3. The Culture Cure: Tips for CX Teams 

This email is brought to you by Wonderment, my retention swiss army knife. Wonderment is the easiest way to proactively set expectations on shipping timeframes, automatically update customers with delays, and measure shipping expectations vs. reality across the business. 

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1. Passing the Buck:

When hiring for CX, almost everyone I talk to has the same question. “How many tickets should they be replying to per day?”

In a metric and KPI-driven universe, this makes sense. As with every hire in your business, the ROI question is real. You’ve been replying to customer tickets on your own and need to find someone to lessen the burden.

So you start writing the Job Description:

“Looking for a CX ninja superstar to deliver on our core values and mission-driven brand promise.”

*insert some more gibberish here*


• Provide exceptional customer service, ensuring that all customer interactions are handled promptly and professionally

• Resolve customer issues and concerns, taking ownership of customer interactions and ensuring that problems are resolved to the customer's satisfaction

• Proactively identify opportunities to improve the customer experience and make recommendations to the customer experience team and management

• Manage customer interactions across various channels, including phone, email, and social media

• Maintain accurate records of customer interactions, and provide regular reports to management

• Collaborate with other teams, including sales, marketing, and product development"

You hire the PERFECT person. They move quickly and keep the inbox tidy.

Fast forward six weeks, and they are burned out, overwhelmed, and their work is sloppy. 

Okay, easy fix.

You return to the KPI’s drawing board and throw a dart at CSAT.

“We need a 4.5/5 or above”, you tell them.

Now they are going slow and being meticulous with responses and acing the CSAT mission, but the response time is taking a hit. 

You finally respond to the guy on Linkedin who is promising outsourced CX, but he charges by the ticket, so you only pay for the work you get done! 

Genius, right?

Boom. Just like that, you’ve gone through a CX team lifecycle in less than three months. 

You’ve hired, attempted to inspire, and then went and sold off your entire CX to some offshore team that could not give a sh*t about anything other than numbers on their screen.

You share the cost savings wins at the next board meeting, take a week in St. Lucia, and sip an ice-cold Moscow Mule while your customers struggle to get meaningful support.

Why do most brands fail at building Zappos-level CX teams?

It’s not all money, I’ll tell you that much. For most of my career, I’ve been on CX teams of 1-3 people, and we delivered fantastic experiences.

It all starts and ends with the culture you create around CX and the value you assign to it. 

Allow me to explain.

2. How a Financially-Efficient-First Mindset kills teams:

The pursuit of financial efficiency is a common goal for most folks that frequently look at the business balance sheet, and CX teams are often under pressure to deliver results that support this objective. 

However, focusing solely on financial performance can negatively affect CX team culture, morale, and engagement.

If Zappos were looking solely at the financial ROI of their CX, half the things they do regularly would make no sense. 

A quote from the late Tony Hsieh of Zappos:

At Zappos we don’t hold reps accountable for call times. (Our longest phone call, from a customer who wanted the rep’s help while she looked at what seemed like thousands of pairs of shoes, lasted almost six hours.) 

And we don’t upsell—a practice that usually just annoys customers. We care only whether the rep goes above and beyond for every customer. We don’t have scripts, because we want our reps to let their true personalities shine during every phone call, so that they can develop a personal emotional connection with each customer, which we refer to as a PEC.

Now, as a small business, your CX overhead definitely has to make sense, and you should be as efficient as you can, but not at the cost of your team culture. 

(P.S. You can certainly track the ROI of great CX by looking at LTV segmented by folks who’ve engaged with your team etc, but that’s for a different time.)

3. The Culture Cure: Tips for CX Teams:

In a very early newsie edition, I briefly wrote about CX team culture, and I wrote this:

“When we think about brands that create magical customer moments, it’s rarely the penny pinchers or the brands with leaders that are constantly muttering, “bUt WhAt’S tHe rOi” as their mantra under their breath."

To create fantastic customer experiences, it’s imperative that you drill “service” into your brand identity and put the customer first. In every conversation.

Especially when you start your CX function, putting the customer on a pedestal is the only way to create something magical, and it does start with how you put together the team, tools, and processes.”

CX has come a long way since I started in 2016. 

It used to be the least cool and least paid role in the corporate world, but now it's starting to get the recognition it deserves. 

CX is making its way to the top with roles like Chief Customer Officer, but CX associate roles still have high turnover. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, customer service reps between 20 and 34 only stay on the job for a little over a year. 

The average call center turnover rate is as high as 45%, which is at least twice the average for other departments. Why do you think that is?

For the most part, CX is still not valued. CX teams often clean the mess of lesser-planned Ops and Marketing teams, with a lesser salary and certainly lower paycheck. It’s pitched as an entry-level role but takes a C-level dose of EQ to do well. 

My 3 Culture Core Values:

  1. Appreciation: As a CX leader, my #1 role is being the Kris to the Kardash’s, the biggest cheerleader they have. I post the big wins to the rest of the org on the general channel in slack. If my team wins big, everyone will know. 🤣I share the most amazing CSAT customer responses with the team weekly. Nothing boosts team morale like sharing wins constantly. Share wins publicly; lament losses privately.

  2. Dedication: CX teams often don’t feel appreciated or heard. My goal is to be here for the team, and they are priority number 1.I’ll cancel a meeting with the CEO for a team member. I’ll make time to talk to my team at any time. I support them and care about them as a human, not just about the work they do.We do a weekly CX team call to just chat and catch up as a team. No formal agenda, just weekly updates and talking about weekend plans.I never expect my team to do anything I wouldn’t do myself. When sh*t hits the fan, I’m in the inbox too. I help on weekends, and I help on holidays.

  3. Vacation: So many junior employees feel the need to prove themselves as someone that will work 365 days a year. I spent the first few years of my career never taking a day off. I worked on my honeymoon in Bali (pro tip: do not do this).At OLIPOP, we instituted “MHF,” aka Mental Health Fridays, where CX team members took off one Friday a month. That was mandatory, aside from the unlimited PTO we had. Hire A-players and push them to take time off. PTO culture starts with the leaders of the team. If leadership works while on vacation or never takes time off, what example do you think it sets for the team? Take time off. Encourage your team to do so as well. No slack when you’re off. No meetings. For CX teams, downtime is prep time, and so damn important.

These might sound trivial, but let me say this. When I joined JRB, changes like this took our avg response time down 90%, kept our CSAT score above 4.85, and our Customer Effort Score in the 90s.

Oh, and we downsized the team slightly and doubled our ticket volume.You’d also be amazed at what great CX culture can do for the mEtRiCs. 😏

For this week’s CX Chronicles, I’m delighted to have Andrea Miner here with us, CX Team Lead at Pair Eyewear. Andrea is a seasoned CX pro l with a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the field.

Prior to Pair, Andrea was at brands like Warby Parker, Nisolo, and Anthropologie. Andrea is a great part of our CX Friends discord as well!

Thrilled you are here, Andrea!

What’s your CX philosophy?

My CX philosophy is - be kind. It seems elementary, but I’ve really found that if you start everything from a place of kindness, the rest always falls into place. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in policies and procedures (and, of course, there’s a place for that), but our humanness is where the magic comes from. The connection that’s built from knowing that someone cares and is empathetic to whatever you're going through - that’s the feeling that I want to leave everyone with - customers and agents alike. 

Your fav Pair Eyewear CX story?

I think my favorite Pair Eyewear CX Story is a recent one after Hurricane Ian. A customer reached out to us and told us how they were deeply impacted by the hurricane and, unfortunately, in the rush of evacuation, had lost her less than 6-month-old pair of glasses and Top frame. With no expectation of anything, she just wanted to know how she could go about replacing the lost items. 

After receiving her email, we replaced her frame and Top at no cost, and she wrote back saying that she was brought to tears. She was so incredibly grateful and beyond thrilled to be receiving a replacement. She has gone on to leave numerous reviews and says that she takes every opportunity to sing our praises. This little act of humanity had a huge impact on her, and those moments remind me why we do what we do!