Overcoming Resistance to New WFM Software

Posted by Call Design on October 25, 2023

After a long road, you’re finally ready to implement. You did the research and selected the platforms you wanted to look at. You sat through too many demos and sales calls and finally selected your new Workforce Management (WFM) platform. The platform has been installed, you’ve set up the initial configuration, and you’ve gone through the training. Everything is ready to go, and then, like an amusement park ride at Disney World, the resistance begins to rise. You start getting pushback from the agents, their supervisors, or maybe even your own WFM team. What is this all about?!

Well, let’s start with why you might be getting some of this internal resistance.

Understanding the Resistance

Internal resistance to change isn’t unique to WFM or contact centers. From professional to personal, non-profits to Fortune 10 companies, the world is full of people who are scared or uneasy about change. Whether it’s because of loss of control, excess uncertainty, or past resentments we need to stop and consider the environment of our key stakeholders. Why might they be resistant to a WFM software change?

1. Agents: Balancing Work and Life

Agents often view changes in WFM software through the lens of their daily routines. This software, more than others, directly impacts their work/life balance. Issues like schedule selection and management, PTO requests, and overtime availability are vital to them. Study after study has shown work/life balance can have huge positive impacts on employee engagement. When WFM software is introduced to an environment agents are rightly going to be concerned that it may negatively impact their work/life balance and be resistant to this change.

2. Agent Supervisors: The Changing Roles

Agent supervisors are often the bridge connecting management’s directives and the agents on the frontline. When new WFM software is introduced, it can signify a shift in their roles, and this can lead to resistance.

Imagine you’re a supervisor accustomed to handling PTO approvals, schedule adjustments, or real-time monitoring. These responsibilities are integral to maintaining team performance. However, as the new WFM software takes its place, these tasks might transition to automation. For supervisors, this shift can be met with skepticism and apprehension. They may wonder if their importance is diminishing, as the software now handles functions they previously managed.

3. WFM Team: Embracing Automation

Similar to the supervisors, the WFM team may see the new software as a threat to their roles. Automated forecasting by just clicking a few buttons can feel threatening to a forecast analyst who has built a career on the accuracy of their Excel spreadsheets. Schedule optimization and what-if scenario building can also look like a threat to the WFM professional who has always heard “Your schedules are so creative!” Automation can appear to replace their expertise, potentially leading to downsizing, and this will consistently lead people to resist change.

4. Company Leadership: The Big Picture

For company leaders, software changes represent more than just a shift in tools; they can affect the entire organization. These leaders, responsible for steering the company toward its goals, often view such transitions with a critical eye. They may be concerned that these changes could disrupt daily operations and potentially divert attention from primary objectives. Anything that may negatively impact customers, employees, or the business is going to be met with resistance.

(Sure, we might have forced a dog picture into this blog off of the “adoption” header… but aren’t you enjoying this blog a bit more now that this picture is in here?)

Fostering Buy-In and Adoption

Now you better understand why the people around you may be resistant to change, but what do you do about it? Regardless of role, there are three keys to fostering buy-in and adoption that you need to keep in mind:

1) Know and Connect with Stakeholders

Before you can connect the software to what matters to them, you have to know what matters to them. Get to know your stakeholders and understand their priorities and challenges before you start implementing new software.

Once you know their priorities and challenges you can then connect the new WFM software to what’s important to them. Coming to them with WFM bells and whistles that aren’t grounded in what they care about will do nothing to reduce or eliminate their resistance. Get to know them, and then show them how the new software will help remove their challenges and reach their goals.

2) Don’t Stop Training

You’ll certainly adjust the training of the platform to the audience, but you at least need to introduce the product to all of your stakeholders. Company leaders need a walk-through, the agents need to understand how to submit requests, and the WFM team needs to understand how to administer the platform. We all know the value of training, and differing that training for the audience, but one training isn’t sufficient.

Of course, the contact center environment is often hard-pressed to find another 30-60 minutes for classroom training. However, there are a variety of ways that you can go after additional training.

WFM team members can get additional training through the user groups, WFM networking groups, or 3rd party consulting. This is especially critical as new features are released in the tool and new functionality is made available. They can also sign up for online webinars that they can either attend live or watch the recording afterward.

Agents and supervisors may need less access to consistent training, but the adoption of the platform will benefit from the WFM team making themselves available. This might look like Office Hours where WFM is available to field any questions they may have. It could also take a more structured approach where WFM shares best practices during a town hall or webinar.

The key to long-term adoption is consistent training. Helping people understand the value the platform provides, how it continually adds value to their environment, and how to best use it for their needs. You may not have another 30-60 minutes for in-classroom training, but you shouldn’t need it to still provide additional training.

3) Communicate Throughout the Process

One of the best ways to create buy-in from all your stakeholders is to keep them in the loop throughout the process. You should have already connected with them and you’re able to show how the platform benefits them. But if you’re not communicating with them about the changes that are coming, before they happen, then all of the benefits in the world won’t be able to overcome the resistance to sudden and unknown change.

Agents and Supervisors – You may want to wait until you’ve settled on which platform you’re going with, but letting them know a change is coming in a few months will help. This gives you a chance to explain to them why it’s happening and how the new platform can help them.

WFM Team – You’ll probably want to include them in the research and vetting process. Maybe the whole team doesn’t need to be involved, but you’ll get great buy-in from your team if they feel like their opinion is being heard when it comes to selecting the tool they’ll use every day.

Company Leaders – Varying what you share can be important for this group. You don’t want to overshare details with them that they aren’t going to find helpful. However, keeping them in the dark until rollout will also likely frustrate them. Pay attention to how involved they are with the contact center. If they are heavily involved then they’ll likely want updates throughout the selection, training, and implementation process. If they have little to do with the contact center, then just give them an overview as you select the tool and roll it out to the team.

Understanding the Benefits

You get the resistance to change, and you understand how to get buy-in, but maybe you aren’t sure about why people would care about WFM software. As a leader in WFM, we can easily miss the larger picture and just see the value of our environment. Ease of use, increased forecasting, better reporting, and visibility, all these features clearly benefit WFM, but they can benefit others in the organization as well.

As mentioned above, knowing how the software can benefit others is critical for adoption, and you still need to hear from them before you can sell them. But as you’re listening to their challenges and priorities having these benefits in mind may help you highlight the value of the software.

For Agents

  • Improved Work/Life Balance: WFM software can streamline scheduling, making it easier for agents to request time off, pick up extra shifts, and maintain a better work/life balance.
  • Empowerment and Autonomy: The ability to indicate their shift preferences and availability can give agents a sense of empowerment and greater control over their work schedules.
  • Fair Scheduling: With the help of the software, agents can ensure a fair distribution of shifts and opportunities, reducing any perceived scheduling biases.

For Agent Supervisors

  • More Time for Coaching: With automation handling administrative tasks, supervisors can focus more on coaching and providing support to agents to improve their performance.
  • Data-Driven Decisions: WFM software provides valuable data and insights that can highlight performance gaps for supervisors and enable more data-driven decisions.
  • Team Visibility:It can be challenging, especially in remote environments, for supervisors to see who is working and when their team might be able to meet for a team meeting. WFM software can provide them visibility, and could even go a step further in scheduling team meetings at optimal times.

For WFM Team

  • Enhanced Efficiency: Automation in forecasting and scheduling simplifies complex processes, increasing efficiency and accuracy in their roles.
  • Creative Scheduling: WFM software can help the team develop more creative scheduling solutions, enabling them to create schedules that meet business needs, while still providing exceptional customer service and employee schedule flexibility.
  • Real-Time Monitoring: The software provides real-time data, enabling the WFM team to make informed, timely decisions based on the latest customer and employee data. It isn’t just seeing what is happening in the moment, but also better predicting what will happen the rest of the day and making adjustments accordingly.

For Company Leadership

  • Optimized Staffing: WFM software ensures that staffing aligns with customer demand, reducing unnecessary labor costs and increasing operational efficiency.
  • Improved Customer Experience: Through efficient scheduling and staffing, the software helps maintain high service levels, leading to improved customer satisfaction.
  • Increased Employee Engagement:  The software can also provide agents the schedule flexibility they’ve been asking for without having to sacrifice customer or business outcomes. This will increase employee engagement, helping the organization retain talent that they likely see as their strategic advantage in the marketplace.

Implementing new WFM software comes with its share of challenges. Agents, supervisors, the WFM team, and company leaders may resist the change, but it can be effectively managed by understanding their concerns and offering ongoing training. Embrace the software’s benefits, such as improved work-life balance for agents, streamlined decision-making for supervisors, and better staffing alignment for company leadership.

At Call Design North America, we’re here to guide you through this transformative journey, ensuring your organization is fully prepared for the transition. We don’t just implement or train and leave, we make sure you are thinking through all of the challenges of change management and helping you avoid common pitfalls. We can also help with continuous training, ensuring you’re getting the most out of your WFM platform.

Change may be challenging, but it’s also an opportunity for growth and success. With the right strategies and the right partner, resistance can transform into enthusiastic adoption, propelling your contact center to new heights.