Earlier this month, a group of approximately 12 Xbox support employees were laid off from the company. Rather than replace them, it sounds as though Microsoft is instead expecting volunteer Xbox Ambassadors to pick up the slack.
This is according to a report from Polygon, which stated that the support staff were employed through a firm called Affirma Consulting. Their primary job was to respond to support requests from the Twitter account @XboxSupport, as well as train Xbox Ambassadors to do the same. Per the report, the team had been asked to focus on "increasing input from Ambassadors."
Xbox Ambassadors are a group of community members who essentially act as volunteer community managers for the Xbox brand in their spare time. They organize community events and provide limited support in locations such as the forums, a support chat tool, and via Twitter.
Their actions are then rewarded with merchandise and other prizes doled out based on participation over "Seasons." Anyone can become an Xbox Ambassador provided they are 17 or older, are Xbox Live Gold members, have a 1500 or higher Gamerscore, and have had no Enforcement actions on their accounts for at least a year.
The report states that the entire team was not laid-off. A few were retained to manage and train Ambassadors, but the @XboxSupport Twitter account (a normally popular recourse for Xbox service issues) has been unusually quiet for the last few weeks and has mostly limited itself to retweeting Ambassador account tweets.
We have contacted Microsoft for clarification.