Newsflash: Watu system updates

Image of tools from Unsplash to represent Watu's features

We’re constantly working on giving you more, and better, tools within Watu. As a front-end user of Watu, you may sometimes be wondering what we’re working on behind the scenes, so in case this is you, here is a list of recent releases which are visible to to clients*;

*this means you will be able to see the difference. There is plenty that goes on in the background which would only make sense to developers 🙂

Booking Emails are Clearer

This is the latest release and one which many of you have been asking for! Previously, ‘successful booking’ emails listed the shifts with details at the top of the email, followed by exceptions.

This was confusing. For everybody.

Image of booking confirmation email from Watu to temporary staffer

Now, as seen above, it lists each shift with its details, unless all the shifts are exactly the same in which case it lists the detailed information just once.

Introducing Canadian Payroll

For our lovely and loyal Canadian clients, we released a detailed payroll data capture section integrated into Watu, much like we have for the UK, US and Australia. This means that Canadian accounts will now be able to ask staff for their bank account payment details, SIN numbers, and everything else necessary to be able to pay staff.

Image of bank detail capture in Watu for Canada

And when payroll is being exported, all this information will automatically populate the spreadsheet. Hello, simple payday.

Fixing a calendar glitch

When staff were looking at the calendar to pick a date – like their birthday – the white text would show up against a white background. Oops.

Image of Watu's calendar feature

This has happily been corrected!

Easier profile cancellation for staff

Whilst the system previously had many blocks in place for staff cancelling their profiles with an agency, we eased some of the restrictions so that staff can now cancel even if they had been shortlisted for a job – as long as the job is in the past.

This should mean fewer emails to managers asking to be suspended.

Portfolio background image

Previously, the portfolio background had two black sections on either side to contain the image. We realised that this wasn’t ideal for some agency images, so the image now covers the entire background.

It’s ever-so-slightly sleeker and a slight adjustment to a feature we’re excited to be renovating in the future.

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!

Viewing your promotional campaigns in Google Maps

Photo by Nicolas Raymond: promotional staffing mapping with google maps

We all look at data and arrange it differently in our minds on order to best understand it. Some of us may squeal at spreadsheets whilst others prefer flowcharts, and yet the ‘visual learner’ group  wants things presented as an image. It’s why there are so many organisational apps out there – what works for one person, one team, or one company may be totally irrelevant to the workflow of another.

Watu also provides various ways to view jobs, for example in the job schedule page or downloaded to CSV for those spreadsheet nerds, but what about the visual group?

Here’s a solution for you guys: creating a promotional campaigns map in Google Maps

How does it work?

Within Google Maps, once logged in, you can choose to create and save a map based on your data. This data can, of course, be imported, meaning you can either whip together a spreadsheet of what you want to visualise, or you can choose to download straight from Watu. The map then saves pins on your locations with all the columnised data stored within each pin.

If you’re going ‘huh..?’ – don’t worry, this blog piece is for visual learners. So let’s make it so.

Step 1: Create the document

Once you’ve built your job in Watu, click ‘Download Job Schedule’

Alternatively, you can choose at this point to build your own spreadsheet in Google Drive or another document. If doing so, just place the column headers in the first row so that Maps can read the titles correctly.

Creating a google map of a promotional campaign

Step 2: Filter your document

Filter to what you need by selecting repetitive columns and deleting them.

In this case, I’ve chosen to narrow down the rows to just one line per location, rather than having a pinpoint for each time the location appears.

Creating a google map of a promotional campaign

Step 3: Go to Google maps

Create your map by going to Google Maps then clicking on the menu and selecting ‘My Maps’. Note that you’ll have to be logged into Google in order to create your own map.

Creating a google map of a promotional campaign

Step 4: Create your map

Click ‘create’ at the bottom of the menu

Creating a map of promotional campaigns

Step 5: Import your data

Import your map by selecting the layer and clicking ‘import’. Select your document and then click ‘location’ (or however you named the address column) to have the pins reflect the addresses of your campaign.

Creating a map of promotional campaigns

Your customised promotional campaign map:

There you have it, your final results. In this case, a basic map with just a few job points, but with the potential for many more.

Creating a map of promotional campaigns

The pins are instantly placed on the locations specified in the spreadsheet. Clicking on a pin will display more detail:

Creating a map of promotional campaigns

Once you’re at this point, the map is yours to explore and add to like, for example, adding additional layers if you have other campaigns you’d like to add in.

Happy mapping!

Photo by Nicolas Raymond

Spring clean your email inbox

The previous app recommendation I shared with you was for Slack, whose goal is to have you ditching your inboxes. But being honest, that’s a pretty big leap and we’re far from reaching that point if we even want to get there. So to keep with the theme of cleaning up your inboxes and reducing the daily dump (the inbox, that is), today we’re having a look at Unroll Me.

What is Unroll Me?

If you’re a subscription addict, you need this app. Or even if you think you aren’t, you probably need this app. These days it’s impossible to navigate the web, explore a site, or download that freebie report without subscribing to a newsletter. Plus, those catchy pop up’s do their job.

Chances are, you actually have no idea how many newsletters you’re subscribed to and the truth is, you just can’t be bothered to find out nor unsubscribe from them all. Well, that’s my story anyway.

Unroll Me takes this problem and sorts this out for you, with minimal effort required from your end.

How to spring clean your email?

First step, no surprise, sign up via the website:

Desktop and mobile friendly, its platform provides a straightforward, simple way to unsubscribe. One that you’ll be pretty accustomed to if you’re a Tinder fan: swipe left.

Following your clean-up, Unroll Me then bundles the rest of your newsletters into one neat and tidy email that hits your inbox once per day. Take a peak into its contents, select what you want to read and dig in.

And the clincher? The app identifies all your newsletters for you instantly, so there’s no boxes to tick or lists to scroll through to have to submit. Ah, the magic of tech.

Uncluttered Mailbox

That’s pretty much it. Enjoy your once-a-day digest or if you don’t, delete the offenders. Suddenly, between Slack and Unroll me – and who knows who else we’re yet to discover – your inbox is looking a whole lot quieter. Which means you’ll actually be able to get some work done.


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?

Blab for staff training

Blab for staff training image and logo

As part of brand immersion and as well as ensuring staff are on an equal platform in terms of product knowledge, brands will often request for a training session to be held between clients, the agency, and the field staff. Whilst very beneficial for all players in the game – the client have the confidence that the staff are trained, the agency knows the staff are knowledgeable and engaged, and the staff are clued up about the brand – organising these training sessions can be an agency headache.

Traditionally, training is held in person, gathering the team together and squeezing them into the headquarter’s meeting room. But this requires coordinated availability for at least half a day between all three parties (especially unappealing for field staff who prefer full days of work to half day training) and can be costly across the board after the hours spent travelling and attending have been tallied, along with the training rates and travel pay offered to staff. What’s more, this time spent out of the agency office by managers means less focus on other jobs and clients who may also have upcoming or live events needing their attention.

Skype or Google Hangouts offer an alternative, but these feel more like software that can be used for training, not software meant for training. The user experience might be a bit rough, with too many faces and voices on the same platform and the ability of only one route of communication – speaking – which can lead to interruptions, inefficiency, and maybe some awkward pauses.

What is Blab?

Now the makers of Bebo, after a genius night sitting around the bar, came up with Blab. In their own words, Blab “let’s anyone have their own show.” With users ranging from Basecamp’s CEO who performs interviews, to Heidi and Spencer who host podcasts, Blab provides an online platform through which the hosts direct the show, but allows for audience participation too.

Blab video hosting infographic

How does Blab work?

Getting started is super simple – I signed up and set up my first session in a matter of minutes.  Using Twitter to create an instant account, Blab then walks you through setting up your first meeting along with making it clear what options you have.

First, you tell the programme four basic points: what is your subject, theme tags, an image, and when you want the session to happen:

Setting up a meeting in Blab

If you don’t want your meeting to start immediately, it’s very straightforward to choose another date and time:

Scheduling a blab meeting in the future

Once set up, you’ll see the countdown to your next meeting. Here you can also see the page set up including the availability for messages, mentions and questions from the audience, as well as a map detailing where everyone is located. The meeting can be shared either through an embedded link, Twitter or Facebook, or by sharing the URL.

Countdown to Blab meeting

Blab for staff training?

So can Blab replace in-person staff training? Very possibly. In one example scenario, the client representative, agency rep, and event manager could join as the hosts of the Blab and run through a discussion of the product, goals of the campaign, and any other key points to highlight. The audience could then use the question feature to fire across any specific queries throughout, or at the end of a session. With many more detailed features available, the opportunity to run a smooth show is yours through this simple (and free) software – encourage staff to get involved from the comfort of their home, commenting, questioning and discussing brand questions with the management teams. Without the potential for awkward breaks in the training flow or untimely interruptions, Blab allows for management led training with to-the-point staff involvement.

Saying that, there is one big drawback that I’ve found so far which is that Blabs cannot be made private. All Blabs are open to the public so there is potential for others to view the training session. However, I do wonder what the chances of members of the public actually coming across, and joining, a staff training session are. Or, as Blab is such a new product, perhaps there is room for development in the future along the private session path.

This is just the briefest of introductions to Blab, which has already garnered a huge amount of interest as well as well-known users. Luckily for you, much more in-depth guides are already available and these delve into the potential of using Blab as a social media tool as well, offering insights into sharing, growing an audience through keywords and URLs, and other marketing tips that you may or may not want to take part of. If you do give Blab a try for your next training session, we’d love to hear about it!

Mapping your staff with Maptive

mapping promo staff with maptive

Every now and then, I come across an app that would come in handy for staffing agencies. And Maptive is exactly this. If you’ve found yourself trying to understand your densities of field staff placement, but instead are left staring at Excel sheets with postcodes by the hundreds, Maptive will be able to help by mapping your staff. “Your data, on a custom Google Map, crazy fast”, it promises. It’s the crazy fast bit that caught my eye.

Maptive have taken the cumbersome task of mapping and made it elegant, not to mention, foolproof. Provide them with raw data, and they will place your hundreds, or even thousands, of staff on a Google map. If you’re keen to explore your data even further, they provide the options of filters, radius circles, grouping, and determining the most efficient routes between locations.

So what can you do with a map of your staff? Well, it’s more like, what can’t you do…

  • Present your staff spread to a client needing nationwide coverage – and proof that you can do it
  • Know which locations you need to focus on for hiring purposes
  • Tackling a job with multiple stops? Easily find the quickest routes
  • Use the attractive display options to present to clients when displaying potential target areas
  • Share routes or other staff members’ locations with your Event Manager via Maptive’s mobile friendly feature
  • Use your imagination…

Begin with a free trial and, if you won’t be using it extensively, stick to the limited and free version. But if you’re ready to explore more, check out the different packages starting at $250 for 45 days.

It can be daunting taking on new software, but adopting new apps and finding which ones stick can be game-changers. If you give Maptive a go, be sure to let us know if it’s helped you out!