Customer Experience (CX) vendor Zendesk today announces it has completed the acquisition of Tymeshift, a workforce management (WFM) solution built on the Zendesk platform. The AI-powered solution is designed to help organizations automatically schedule complex CX agent workloads across multiple channels and can then adjust them in real-time, for example when there are sudden spikes in customer inquiries. The announcement was made on stage at today’s Zendesk Showcase event in London by Tom Eggemeier, recently confirmed as CEO of Zendesk.
Traditional workforce management solutions for call centers aren’t designed for the kind of multi-channel environment that modern CX systems like Zendesk supports. This was the impetus for creating Tymeshift, which provides real-time visibility into agent activity and automatically creates schedules, forecasts and reports. The product is already in use by more than 350 Zendesk customers. David Birchmier, formerly CEO of Tymeshift and now Director of WFM Strategy and GTM at Zendesk, speaking to diginomica today, explains:
The problem that we’re ultimately trying to solve for is to help our customers get the right people in the right place at the right time to be able to respond to customer inquiries on time …
For scheduling out this this type of work, whether it be the calls or the emails or the chats, the idea is we basically take the constraints and we try to figure out how much contact volume is coming in from each of these channels. Then we use an AI model to convert that into a staffing forecast, figure out how many people are we going to need, at which times, doing which things, to be able to respond to all the requests. Then using that information and using when agents can work and all their preferences, we can then convert that into a schedule.
Multiple channels and rapid change
The need for this type of flexible workforce management isn’t restricted to large companies, adds Matt Price, SVP at Zendesk Labs. Even companies with ten agents or less may sometimes need to pull other workers in to provide support at peak times — and every business is now having to straddle multiple channels and manage ongoing change. He elaborates:
What we’re actually seeing now is a rise in demand for the need of this, with more channels to have to balance, synchronous versus asynchronous channels. There’s the need for multi-lingual support, different skills needed. Then on top of that, just the rise of AI for handling certain types of things, and rebalancing the skills of AI with the agent as well, and understanding who should be handling what. All of that change is happening really quickly these days.
At the same time, Zendesk is being used in a broad range of contexts, including internal employee experience settings or providing pre-sales support. Across all of these disparate engagements, adding Tymeshift makes it possible to manage resources far more responsively. Price goes on:
You might have a surge in your chat channel, which means that people are waiting beyond your service level. That can be identified immediately. But the question is, then actually, what are you going to do about it?
Once you reach any kind of scale, there are a number of things a workforce manager can do. They can take people off back-office work and put them on front-office work. Immediately, what Tymeshift can do is republish a new schedule, and then alert those agents to actually change channel.
Visibility into scheduling
There are various levers available to managers, and the system also takes into account agents’ skills, preferences and compliance constraints. Price adds:
Tymeshift schedules breaks. It could be used to schedule overtime, and things like that. These are the things that the manager has [available] to do it. Then very quickly, rather than then having to email everybody, or publish a new spreadsheet out and say, ‘Hey, everybody, look at this,’ immediately the new schedules are published directly to the agent interface, informing them to change what they’re working on.
Features now available as part of Tymeshift, provided as an optional module, include:
- Predictive AI-powered forecasting — the system analyzes Zendesk data to forecast ticket volumes and subject matter, helping organizations plan future staffing needs and providing real-time insights that can help reduce operational costs.
- Scheduling — a completed schedule is automatically created based on staffing forecasts, so that companies can schedule teams appropriately based on data.
- Reporting — ability to visualize historical and real-time data to optimize costs and service levels.
- Visibility over team productivity and performance — companies can see how productive agents are and analyze staffing decisions to make improvements.
Birchmier sums up:
What Tymeshift provides is visibility, in order to understand what’s happening in real time, see what your team is doing in order to be able to figure out, okay, what changes do we need to make to be able to make sure that we take care of our customers.
An unexpected move and one that adds a distinctive extra capability to the Zendesk proposition. The need to manage workforce resources across so many different parameters underlines the demands of servicing customers successfully across multiple channels.