During Tipsy Elves LLC’s busiest sales season of the year—Christmas—customer service inquires jump, rising nearly nine times in Q4 compared with the rest of the year.

To handle the enormous volume, the web-only merchant had to scale its customer service labor to 80 employees from its typical one or two employees that could handle its year-round customer service operations, says Gavin Sorey, senior director of people at the Christmas sweater retailer. And this uptick happened fast.

Gavin Sorey, senior director of people, Tipsy Elves

Gavin Sorey, senior director of people, Tipsy Elves

“We need to scale so quickly that we would have to create a temporary leadership team, with interviewing, hiring, onboarding, all in four weeks,” Sorey says. “We couldn’t bring anyone in early, because there would be nothing for them to do. There are no tickets.”

This sudden spike in new employees was cumbersome for Tipsy Elves to handle, as it was a fast ramp-up for only a four- to eight-week commitment with high expectations for providing quality customer experience. But the merchant was reluctant to outsource customer service, as it wanted to keep all high-touch interactions in-house to ensure its brand quality, he says.

Want to read more? Unlock Free Strategy Membership