Upgraded calendar view

Watu has released an upgraded calendar view for managers, with better formatting and the use of colours to convey how fully booked your job is.

watu calendar view for staffing jobs
The new calendar view detailing your booking progress

The new colour bars mean the following:

Green: Fully booked

Yellow: In the process of being booked

Red: Completely unbooked

Snapshop of Watu's calendar functionality
The calendar colours detail the booking status

And the cherry on top?

Now the colour bar will show you the progress of how far along your job is booked. Is the yellow line reaching the halfway mark? Well, then your job is similarly halfway booked.

And clicking inside of the job via the calendar still brings up the details you’re after, just like before:

Watu calendar for the managers detailing a job booking

As always, comments, questions, and all else welcomed in the comments or to info@watuapp.com

Connecting Watu to a Questionnaire via Typeform

Following a shift, many agencies are keen to collect data from their staff in the field. What was the public reaction, how many samples were handed out, who showed interest…how many tweets were tweeted!? A questionnaire provides a natural route to gather this data and is a feature that has been mentioned by a few clients who already use Watu.

At the moment, it’s not a feature we offer and whilst it is a task we are considering tackling, we really doubt that we can build it better than the experts. Especially Typeform, who create “Free and Beautifully Human Online Forms.”

How does it work?

Building a typeform is ridiculously easy. It offer very straightforward report-building software which you can use from the get-go. No need to read instructions, experiment with practice forms, or temporarily morph into a coder. Create an account, build your form. Magic.

Image of Watu customer service survey

What does it look like?

This is the best part about typeform. Beyond being super simple for managers to use, it’s beautiful for users (or, as they say, humans…) to reply via. Bold texts, varied colours, imagery and clean graphics come together with the singularly appearing questions to create a pleasant-survey-experience. Not three words you often hear together.

How can you add a form to Watu?

Whilst the form cannot be hosted by Watu itself (that’s taken care of by Typeform), you can easily insert the link in a booking email. To do so, simple take your Typeform URL – which you can find within the ‘share’ section of Typeform- and paste it into your ‘booked staffer description’ within the Job Description of your Watu account.

Add a little sentence to go along with it, let’s say for example “After completing your shifts, please take 2 minutes to fill out this questionnaire about the campaign” and paste in your link.

image of watu including a typeform link

Want to experience an example?

Conveniently for you, I’ve created an example and would love for you to take part. Check out our customer service survey and let us know what you think of Watu’s customer service at the same time!

Feature Proposal: Faster, easier payroll

Payroll is a fantastic feature of Watu, allowing agencies to have the confidence they are always paying staff, and never double-paying shifts, but we realise it’s a bit disjointed at the moment.

Currently, agencies do the following:

  • Run exports for PAYE staff wages
  • Run exports for PAYE staff expenses
  • Log invoices for Self-employed staff
  • Export payroll batches for Self-employed staff

The exports created contain valuable data but the process to export them needed some revisiting, so we have a new proposal: all the exports, in one sheet, and no more logging self-employed invoices.

How will it look?

Sometimes features are best explained with images. Here is how new payroll could look:

image of payroll for watu staff
Proposed payroll change

So what would change?

  • Self-employed staff: You would no longer have to mark each invoice received. Instead, signing off would confirm the wages and you would be able to run the export immediately based on the date of the shifts
  • One export, not 3: You would be able to run the export for PAYE wages, PAYE expenses, and Self-employed payments all at the same time into one document (maintaining the relevant columns for each)
  • Toggles: The ability to toggle before exporting, choosing between exporting expenses, PAYE wages, or self-employed payments – or all three

Let us know what you think:

How we rebuild this feature will depend on your feedback, so let us know! Is this a time-saving move forward for your agency? Or is there a change that will leave you short of data? Let us know by emailing us at info@watuapp.com and sharing your thoughts.

Autofill Job Locations

The other day, Elizabeth from Tidy Models wrote to us and asked why Watu’s autofill was only offering her one address option. A problem that we would have loved to solve, if we actually offered autofill in the first place.

It was a fantastic idea and I started to add it to the to-do list…but hold on, hello brilliance! If browsers are already offering this for us, why double the work?


Here’s how to add autofill options via Chrome:*

(*Why Chrome? Because it’s our most compatible browser.)

  1. Click the menu button in Chrome near the upper right corner and select ‘Settings’
  2. Click on ‘Advanced Settings’
  3. Scroll down to ‘Password and Forms’ and select ‘Manage Autofill Settings’

4. Select ‘Add new street address’

5. Add in your frequently used addresses then hit ok

6. Next time you’re building a job in Watu, start to enter the address and watch autofill pop up


My extra tip? Make sure that little red pin pops up — and in the right location — as this confirms the job has been mapped correctly, and can be made public.

Software magic, brought to you by W̶a̶t̶u̶ Chrome

Feature Release: Holiday Pay | How to opt in

We’re so pleased to be presenting to you the much anticipated holiday pay feature for UK clients! It’s been in the making for some time and offers the opportunity to bring your agency in line with HMRC requirements.

In case you would like a refresher, here is the basis behind creating the feature.

Whether or not you plan to opt-in, there are changes that will affect all UK accounts so please read through to the end.


Release Date: 12th February (Sunday)
What’s happening: You may opt-in to holiday pay

The Holiday Pay feature:

  • The main goal of adding this feature is to display the difference at the time of booking between wage and holiday pay. This is simple enough – in theory – but it has a few knock-on effects including:
    When staffers see a new job following your opt-in, they will not only see the wage entered by you. Instead, they will see it split into “base pay” and “holiday pay”
  • The split will be calculated automatically by the software and will take holiday pay from the total you want to pay. Example: if you want to pay the staff member £100 total for the day, you will still enter £100 from which the software will calculate the percentage of holiday pay. Therefore, it will display the wage as less than £100 + holiday pay to the staff member
  • Subsistence, bonus and taxable adjustments will be included as wage. Holiday pay will be calculated from this wage total.
  • Once you opt-in and the feature is live, every job you create after that will have Holiday Pay. New shifts added to existing jobs will not, however. This is only for new jobs created after Holiday Pay is turned on for you.
  • There are changes to the payroll export for those who opt-in and those who opt-out. Please read these changes or send them on to your accountant

What’s next?

If you would like holiday pay activated in your account, please email info@watuapp.com to confirm. If you do not want this feature to go live, you don’t need to take any action as we will assume you don’t want it. You may opt-in at any point further down the road.



A bonus update…

We made one more small change which will be released on Sunday 12th along with Holiday Pay. When sending booking emails, if the shifts have different times and breaks, there will not be a summary at the top of the email. Instead, each shift will be listed individually for better clarity.


As always, I welcome your questions and comments so please do comment or get in touch via info@watuapp.com if you would like to discuss the feature.

Updated HMRC Ruling: Promo staff must be PAYE

Promotional model Jennifer Su: https://flic.kr/p/aCmeJd

It has long been a grey area as to whether promotional staff should be self-employed or on PAYE. Are they employees or do they set their own schedules? Do you determine their work day, or do they do that on their own? Is their place of work determined by you, or by them?

A lot of these answers depend on a campaign itself, rather than being a sweeping ‘you’ or ‘them’, and this has given some freedom for agencies to choose whether to hire staff as self-employed, or employees.

However, just recently, HMRC has clarified these rules within the employment manual and refer specifically to brand ambassadors and similarly related roles.

First they tackle the fact that many promotional staff work as actors, singers or models, by explaining that these roles are exempt:

HMRC actors models singers except from PAYE

Having clarified that models, singers and actors working as models, singers and actors, do not have to be paid under PAYE, they then tackle the subject of models, singers, and actors working as promotional staff:

Promotional staff must be paid under PAYE

As above, HMRC specifically state that promo staff undertaking activities such as “carrying out demonstrations”, “keeping supermarket shelves stocked”, and “sales promotion on manufacturers’ stands…” is “therefore within the legislation”.

If you’re already using Watu as your software provider, making this switch is easy.

Firstly, within general>settings, you will see options relating to how you would like to allow your field staff to register with you:

Payroll settings watu

Simply keep only the option for “staffers to sign up as Employees” ticked, and this will be the only option moving forward for registering staff.

It’s worth noting that managers can always override this setting, so if you have a staff member who must be registered as self-employed, it’s possible for a manager to select this on behalf of the staff member.

And what about those staff who have been self-employed, but now need to switch to PAYE?

Watu can help out with this, as our developers can change some system settings to ‘sweep’ your account so-to-speak, and change everyone to PAYE. As these staff members wouldn’t have their payroll details entered already, it will set all these recently switched staffers to “payroll incomplete”, meaning they can’t be paid yet.

But again, there’s a solution for this! Within ‘payroll’ there is a section called ‘incomplete payroll’, and clicking there will bring you to this page:

incomplete payroll watu

See that little ‘request payroll data’ button? Click there, and that will send an email to everyone who needs to enter their details in order to be paid. It takes care of the guess work and manual typing, so all you have to do is click a button.

Bonus: A helpful – and little known – tip for those agencies using PAYE

Our system asks for the payroll data that is also required by HMRC. We stick to their mandatory/non-mandatory questions so that the software is aligned with government regulations, but sometimes you may find that the system asks for something which you just don’t need.

If you find that a staff member is marked as incomplete but you’d like to pay them anyway, here’s how to do a system override:

  1. Click into the staff member’s profile
  2. Click the menu (three lines) in the upper right corner
  3. Click ‘payroll’
  4. Click ‘edit’
  5. Click ‘Admin Information’
  6. Tick the little box stating ‘payroll data complete’

mark payroll data as complete in watu

We know that going through a payroll switch and all of its consequences can be daunting, and we would like to be here to help as much as possible. Whilst we cannot offer accounting or legal advice, we would be happy to offer suggestions and help you along the way as you make the switch.

When you’re ready to ask a question or get started, just click the ‘tech support’ button to reach out to the team.

Filtering agency emails

Image of mailboxes to represent filtering agency emails Photo by 白士 李: https://flic.kr/p/mMthm6

The excitement of signing up to a new agency and receiving your first job offer provides for a real buzz. A new team of managers, a different range of clients, and the potential for some awesome gigs coming through into your virtual mailbox appeals to your curiosity and inbound post is read with relish.

Until that email turns into hundreds. Then maybe thousands, as you register with more agencies. And not just that, but you’re hectic at the moment with finals and shifts and social events galore. You want to apply to some shifts, but the amount of incoming mail is overwhelming and not to mention, totally drowning your inbox to the point where personal emails get lost in the subject headers and you decide it’s just not even worth checking the mail. This just isn’t working.

Many staff, at this point, get in touch asking to be taken off the books, preferring to not be registered with an agency at all rather than be bombarded by potentially irrelevant job offers. But there’s another option: filtering your agency emails. Here we have a look at the most popular email servers and how to create filters.

Filtering incoming mail for Gmail

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. In the search box at the top, click the Down arrow Down Arrow.
  3. Enter your search criteria. If you want to check that your search worked correctly, see what emails show up by clicking Search Search.
  4. At the bottom of the search window, click Create filter with this search.
  5. Choose what you’d like the filter to do.
  6. Click Create filter.
  7. When you create a filter to forward messages, only new messages will be affected.

Use a particular message to create a filter

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Check the checkbox next to the email you want.
  3. Click More.
  4. Click Filter messages like these.
  5. Enter your filter criteria.

Filtering incoming mail for Hotmail

  1. Select Options | More options… (or just Options in Windows Live Hotmail classic) from the toolbar.
  2. Follow the Automatically sort e-mail into folders link under Customize your mail.
  3. Click New filter.
  4. Select the desired filtering criterion under Which messages are you looking for?.
  5. Choose the folder to receive all mail matching your criterion under Where do you want to put these messages?.

Filtering incoming mail for Yahoo

  1. Mouse over the Settings icon Image of the Mail Settings icon. | select Settings.
  2. Click Filters
  3. Click Add.
  4. Enter a Filter Name.
  5. Enter the filter criteria.
  6. Select a folder to deliver the affected emails to or select New Folder to create a new one.
  7. Click Save.
  8. Click Save again to return to your emails.

Filtering incoming mail for Outlook

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. Click Manage Rules & Alerts.
  3. In the Rules and Alerts dialog box, on the E-mail Rules tab, click New Rule.
  4. Under Start from a blank rule, click either Check messages when they arrive or Check messages after sending.
  5. Click Next.
  6. Under Step 1: Select condition(s), select the conditions that you want the messages to meet for the rule to apply.
  7. Under Step 2: Edit the rule description, click an underlined value for any condition that you added, and then specify the value.
  8. Click Next.
  9. Under Step 1: Select action(s), select the action that you want the rule to take when the specified conditions are met.
  10. Under Step 2: Edit the rule description, click an underlined value for any action that you added, and then specify the value.
  11. Click Next.
  12. Under Step 1: Select exception(s), select any exceptions to the rule, and then click Next.
  13. Under Step 2: Edit the rule description, click an underlined value for any exception that you added, and then specify the value.
  14. Click Next.
  15. Under Step 1: Specify a name for this rule, enter a name.
  16. Under Step 2: Setup rule options, select the check boxes for the options that you want.
  17. If you want to run this rule on messages that already are in the Inbox, select the Run this rule now on messages already in “Inbox” check box.
  18. By default, the new rule is turned on. To turn off the rule, clear the Turn on this rule check box.
  19. To apply this rule to all email accounts set up in Outlook, select the Create this rule on all accounts check box.
  20. Click Finish.
  21. What filters should you create?

Filtering your inbox by subject

Perhaps you’d like to separate job invites from being shortlisted to a shift, and confirmation requests from decline messages. If so, there are some key words that most agencies using Watu will use.

How to create a Gmail filter in your inbox
Creating a Gmail filter

When a box like the above Gmail option pops up offering you various filters, here’s what to enter:

Job Invites: (Subject) “Would you be interested in”
Being shortlisted to a job: (Subject) “Status: SHORTLISTED”
Confirming a job you’ve been booked to: (Subject) “Status: SUCCESSFUL”
Your application to a job was declined: (Subject) “Status: UNSUCCESSFUL”

Extra: From: This is a bit trickier, as each manager has an individual email address. If you opt to use this filter, note that it will be from an email address with ‘watu’ in it, and not the manager’s direct email address. (hint: also add this inbound email address to your contacts, to avoid spam!)

So rather than choosing between leaving the agency for good or having to deal with 452 new job offers every day (which technically sounds good but, in practice, stinks), have a go at setting up filters. That way when you decide you’re ready to read through what’s available and get stuck into some work admin, you can opt to dive in.

 

Photo by 白士 李

Creating a weekend reserve list of staff

It’s always an agency’s intention to staff an event with pre-approved or confirmed staff, but sometimes, stuff happens. Cars break down, illnesses hit, or maybe – just maybe – the sun shines in the UK. These and a million and one other reasons can cause drop outs so it makes sense to have a reserve list at the ready.

Not to mention, sometimes clients themselves have last minute changes and before you know it, you’ve promised to have two extra staff members at a beer festival on the outskirts of Aberdeen.. Hmm…now how to find those people…?

So whether you have a weekend coming up that is particularly packed with events, or just want to know your staff’s general availability in case of drop outs or a client’s request for extra staff, we’ve come up with the best way to do this in Watu.

Here’s how to build a weekend reserve list of staff, step-by-step:

  1. Create a new job. Use a title that will be obvious it is for a reserve list only, and not a specific job. Remember that you can search your own jobs using keywords, so name it appropriately. Enter a staffer description clarifying that they are simply noting that they’re available as reserves, and not applying to a job. In the booked description, explain that they will be booked directly on a job if the chance arises, rather than into the reserve list itself. Creating a job in Watu
  2. Build your job. You want the reserve list to reflect nationwide availability, so enter in various locations at ‘hotspots’ around your country. In the UK, this may be “London/Edinburgh/Manchester/Birmingham”, for example. In the US, you may want to focus on where your events will be, or know general availability in the larger cities like LA, NY, Chicago, and so on. Choose any location to ensure the pin drops on the map, as this is how staff will search for the job. As for roles, you can choose to either simply add one role – we would suggest something standard like “brand ambassador” – or you can make it more detailed and add additional roles if you know you have specific requirements for that particular weekend, like “bartender”. The time can cover the whole day, to capture total availability. And we’d suggest leaving the pay as 0, so that you can confirm this on a job-specific basis.  Building a job in Watu
  3. Save the job. Check that it’s looking correct in the booking page Viewing available shifts in watu
  4. Make the job public. Click the toggle to publish all locations to the job market. This will immediately take you to the job advert page.                                                                                    Publishing a job within Watu
  5. Customise your job advert. You can leave the advert content as is, with the pre-filled description, or you can choose to customise the advert per role. Remember you can also choose to only advertise specific roles to people who have already worked in that role previously. Hit publish and you’re done! Creating a job advert in watu
  6. View applications. Should the need come up for booking a reserve staff member, just check into your reserve weekend job. Here, you can see Natalie’s application which means she should be your first port of call if a shift opens up in her location.                                                         Viewing job applicants in Watu

Viewing it from the staff member’s point of view

So how does the reserve list job show for staff members? They can see it as a normal job within their job market, hence why it’s important to label it ‘Reserve List’ very clearly.

Viewing the job market in Watu
Viewing the job in the job market

 

Applying to a job in watu
Applying to the job as a staff member

And finally, it’s worth noting that whilst you could make this a recurring job every weekend, you’re probably better off building one per weekend. The reason being is that the job will show afresh within the job market each week that it’s created which means more applications. Also, you’re more likely to have an accurate reserve list if it’s specific to a weekend rather than being spread across a month or more – availability can change in a snap, so encourage your staff to apply on a weekly basis!

So, here’s to no more frantic Saturday morning phone calls and availability scans. No more mass messages or bulk texts to check who is around and willing to work. Just log into your account, check the reserve list and drop the right person a line.

Maximising your customer service queries

Customer service how can i help

Before transitioning to the tech world, I always viewed customer or tech support as something to be avoided. A button to click or address to email only in the most desperate of times, when things just were not working. It would end up being a hassle, special numbers or passwords would be required, and responses were often lacking helpful solutions.

Since then, I’ve spent a couple of years providing customer happiness for Watu, immersing myself not only in customer service but also the wonderful world of software. In addition to being an eye-opener with regards to this magic little button of tech support, the industry has also come a long way in terms of customer appreciation, transparency and openness. Now, in fact, there isn’t just one access point to customer service – you have access via chat, tickets, Twitter, email and more.

Zappos’ incredible customer service focus has inspired others to give the ‘wow’ factor and suppliers have realised the value of happiness. And not just happiness in clients. Software companies like Automattic, Buffer and Baremetrics are leading a cultural revolution, hiring happy folk who genuinely have a passion for helping others. We don’t want to just answer your questions and close your ticket. We want to solve your pain point, make your day, ease your workload, simplify steps and put a smile on your face.

So how do you, as the customer, make the most of this change in heart? And what exactly do those responses you’re receiving actually mean? I’ve read through blogs and analysed my own experiences to provide 3 suggestions for decoding your tech support and maximising your customer service experience.

Your feature suggestions

Like most other startups, we have a path laid out for our app, but it’s a flexible one. One that can be scrubbed away and redrawn, or at least one that might ocassionally take a detour. This is where clients play a crucial role: the app is for you. Especially if you’re a heavy user and pay for the more expensive version of the app when available. It’s not that paying more means your ideas are more valid, but rather that you are clearly invested in the product, use it regularly, and therefore can provide the most applicable suggestions.

The fact is, maybe we, on the software team, have some grand ideas that we think will benefit you, but in reality if all our customers are pleading with us for X feature, chances are, we need to listen.

So what really happens when you put in a feature request? Well, check out the response tone to see if you can decode it. ¨Your request is being sent to developers for review and we may take it on.¨Ok, this is the most open-ended. What does it mean? Quite literally what it says. Your request will get added via another software platform like Trello or Jira as an idea for developers. Gain enough traction via requests from other clients, or a developer being particularly keen, and it may get the thumbs up. But don´t hold your breath.

What if the response isn´t so positive, yet more polite – something along the lines of ¨Thanks so much for submitting. That idea isn´t in the pipeline at the moment, but we´ll bear it in mind.¨ Dear clients, this is the gentle let down. The customer service equivalent of ¨It´s not you, it´s me.¨

The fact is, an app has many clients. And each client has their own specific workflows and needs. But most startups provide platforms, not customised software. What you suggested may be a brilliant idea for your business. But it could be completely irrelevant for everyone elses’. So it´s a no, and not just because developers´time is expensive, but because platforms have features that must be the same across the board, for all clients and the teams behind the product want to avoid ´product bloat´. Make a change in the former, and suddenly all clients have this appear in their account. And if you´ve requesteed a cat gif giving a high five for every win you make, the others may not appreciate it so much.

cat giving high five gif

 

Errors in the account

This is normally why the support button is sought after and clicked. You´re running into a problem and it may be a bug, it may be your browser, it may be…anything. That´s the support team´s role to don the detective badge and find the source. But we don´t want to just find it. We want to find it with as little delay, with minimal communication (i.e. interruption to your day) and as efficiently as possible. Therefore the information that you provide can play a huge role.

The safest default in this case is: the more detail, the better

Providing the support team with a background – what were you clicking? Your stats (not 36-24-36…) like what internet browser are you using? Desktop or mobile? And what the error was, as in, what exactly did the error state and when did it occur? If you want to put a bow on top, throw in a screenshot. I, in all my geekiness, love a screenshot as it helps me to almost immediately diagnose a fix the error.

In our staffing management platform, for example, we might get tickets like the following:

Client: Your site isn’t working
Support team’s first reaction: Hmm. Which part isn’t working? It’s not loading? Or it’s displaying in a strange way? A specific feature isn’t doing its job?

Client: The staffer isn’t showing as booked on her job
Reaction: Which staffer? Which job? Which manager booked her, and when?

Client: There’s an error when I download payroll
Reaction: What type of error? Can you screenshot the page when it’s happening? Which payroll run? When?

You can see the pattern and what’s missing. Detail, detail, detail. The above type of ticket normally takes 2-3 more messages between myself and the client to determine the problem and provide a solution vs an initial email detailing everything that happened and, most likely, a response from myself saying it´s been fixed. I think we can all see the appeal of the latter.

To add to it, our software along with many others, have clients based around the world and that introduces something rather tricky: timezones. On most days, my clients submit and get a response with 24 hours, if not just a few hours. But sometimes, throwing varying workig hours and time zones into the mix means this back-and-forth can delay solutions tremendously. And that doesn´t usually lead to client happiness.

So overshare, spill it all, get verbal. Send us the whole story, and we´ll get back to you with a solution.

What about a good ol´ fashioned helping hand

The previos two points – feature requests and solving errors – applies to most tech software companies. As the customer happiness rep for Watu, I also believe wholeheartedly believe in the following for our service:

Get in touch.

Not just to report a problem, not just to suggest a feature. ¨Get in touch¨ isn´t just a canned mssage line or a polite way of signing off an email. It´s a genuine welcome, an open arms, encouraging clients to reach out for any help they may need in the software.

My goal isn´t to just solve your problems and have you on your way. I want to do this, and have you confidently using the software, making use of all the fine detail, and taking advantage of everything we have to offer. I know the software inside out and I want to share this knowledge. In our case, I relish the opportunity to take a pain point of a client and turn it into a task they didn´t realise could be so simple. Asking me the optimal way to build a complex job in the system, for suggestions on what type of questions to ask as part of their staff application form, if I can review their account and provide better workflow ideas. All of these are valid support team questions and offer me the chance to apply my knowledge creatively, whilst providing clients a step-up with the system. It´s a win-win.

So don´t hesitate to click that support button. Drop us a line (or rather, many) and give us that satisfaction of making our clients the happiest. Take advantage of all these ridiculously friendly customer support teams and share your questions, thoughts, and doubts. Go on, will you please get in touch?