5 ways WFM for agents is great – explained by a former agent

More information, focus and help: these are just some things workforce management can help agents with.

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illustration of how WFM makes life better for agents

Everyone has needs – our customers, our company, and the agents too. I was an agent (I’m now a Customer Success Manager) so I get this side of the barricade better than most.

WFM gives us agents the ability to bring needs together to improve customer experience, get the resources we need to do our job well, and the best work-life balance possible. 

How? 

By providing clear data that the team can use to make educated decisions on how to optimize processes. 

1. WFM gives agents more information on what we need to be doing throughout the day

More information means both the managers and the specialists are able to understand: 

  • The basics – like when they are scheduled to work, but beyond that…
  • Where the team needs some extra support or training 
  • When to ask for help or more resources
  • How they are doing so there are no surprises when it comes to professional reviews and 1:1s
  • How to take accountability for our work and celebrate our successes together
  • What tickets or activities are making specialists want to pull out their hair or think “there has to be a better way”
  • When hiring is needed because there is too much work for people to accomplish
  • When reallocation is necessary so that you’re not having to sit there bored, and wait for work
  • When team members can take time off, allowing for more flexibility within time off management because you really understand your business needs 

WFM tools aren’t so much a measure of how you operate as a person or an employee. Think of them instead as a way for the team to think holistically about how your individual needs can be addressed to make the team function like a well-oiled machine. Because that leads to overall success and happiness for us and our customers.

2. WFM lets the team understand where we need extra support or training

The expectation here can vary depending on what goals the managers are pushing towards. But for the agents, the knowledge of the team being more focussed on productivity will naturally lead to more awareness of how they are doing on a day-to-day basis. This coupled with having consistent opportunities to communicate with managers based on performance data, gives agents the space to recognize success and growth opportunities with their managers. 

Say you walk into a 1:1 and your manager mentions that they’d like for you to work on your first response time – to ensure customers are getting prompt replies. This is an opportunity for the manager to express why this is important, and the specialist to express what would help them achieve this goal. More staffing in the morning to help with the load, for example. Or maybe they have the kids in the afternoon and need to work on lower priority tickets during that time. 

On the flip side, if your manager is very excited about some recent work you’ve done, you have the space to talk about what is working for you, and how they can bring that to the rest of the team. 

Great workforce managers go into 1:1s or coaching sessions with some information from their WFM tool to show specialists. That way they can see how they are doing and can start relating their work to how well they are working towards the team’s goals. This is something that can be inspiring to specialists, and even a cause for some team celebration at the best of times!

3. WFM empowers agents to ask for help or more resources

With a more open line of communication, we usually see specialists move from reacting to the feedback provided by managers, to proactively reaching out when they feel they are not working at their potential or at a pace to reach the outlined goals. This creates an increased awareness that the team is working together to reach those goals, often inspiring specialists to identify areas of opportunity and ask for assistance. 

At times, specialists accidentally forget to set their AUX code resulting in their unproductive time accumulating much longer than anticipated. When this happens, the agent should reach out to the manager and let them know that their tracking is inaccurate due to the mishap. It can be very easy to update to reflect the proper efficiency metrics. 

Remember: in support and CX, like most team jobs in general, communication and transparency are everything.

4. WFM prevents surprises in professional reviews and 1:1s

WFM gives us agents the opportunity to check in with our managers regularly to know how we’re doing. That consistency means there are less surprises. 

It’s great for agents being able  to work with their managers over time on their goals and their action plans for achieving them consistently. It’s much better than getting to the end of the month/quarter/year, and getting blindsided in a review because they were under-delivering in an area and didn’t know it. 

Example: 

One specialist is working with their manager to get their productive hours up, but they have been spending extra time on unproductive tasks reflected in their general task usage. They can communicate this to the manager so that they can adjust expectations for productive time accordingly. At the end of the quarter when they go into their review, they will know confidently that they will have a slightly lower number of productive hours based on the team’s goals. 

Rather than being shocked by the fact that they are seemingly “not performing to the standard”, they can feel confident in why, and that their manager clearly understands. 

5. WFM helps agents take accountability for their work and highlights their successes 

With consistent communication comes accountability. With the awareness that the team is working towards common goals, specialists tend to start thinking of the bigger picture. 

Example: 

As a specialist, you start to understand the importance of either working on a ticket or selecting a General Task/Auxcode. With the awareness of setting your work code or working on a ticket, you are telling your managers what you are prioritizing at that time. This allows you to take ownership over your work, see how it affects your overall workflow.

On the other hand, if you’re successfully solving a boatload of tickets, WFM helps to highlight that. So it’s easier to celebrate the successes you find – you can just point at your scorecard and show off your stellar metrics!

Remember: WFM is a partnership. Though it provides clear actionable reporting to assist operations in making decisions when running the business, the communication and data-keeping it provides also gives specialists and agents structure, information, and resources. And the ability for specialists to engage with their performance, ask for help when needed, and justify the need for more help and support from their superiors. 

Work/life balance is becoming increasingly important with more teams working from home and having a level of separation from their office life. This is why it’s imperative that teams have a tool to manage the key metrics and KPIs of interest, as well as promote a workplace that supports and sustains its customers and internal teams. 

So let’s make this a partnership that benefits everyone! 1…2…3…GO!

About Tymeshift:

We’re Tymeshift, an effortless WFM solution made exclusively for Zendesk to make workforce managers’ lives easier. Our workforce management tools include shift scheduling, forecasting and analytics. A perfectly intuitive Zendesk integration makes your CX agents’ lives easier. Learn all there is about us and our product on tymeshift.com

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