Why we’re not “Workforce Management (WFM)” software

blog cover image on a yellow background with the title: why we're not wfm software
Written by:
Picture of Natasha Ratanshi-Stein

Natasha Ratanshi-Stein , Founder & CEO

Surfboard provides team planning tools for customer service teams so they can delight their customers with quick response times without burning out their team. Category design or definition can be tricky and hard to get right and often there is no point reinventing the wheel when potential customers are looking for a specific category. But what happens when the category you naturally fit into doesn’t align with your product or values?

The type of software we are building is traditionally called “workforce management (WFM)“, “workforce engagement” or “workforce optimisation” software. Regardless of whether you call yourself “customer support”, “customer success”, “customer experience” or “customer service”, at Surfboard we aren’t building for a workforce, we’re building for a team.

We also don’t like the connotations associated with management. What comes to mind is the expectation of one way flexibility, surveillance, and mistrust. We think planning covers what we are doing in a more holistic way: making sure the right people are in the right place, taking into account the needs of both managers and teams, all with the objective of providing the best experience for the customer.

And then there are the other words in the category: engagement and optimisation. Engagement doesn’t tell us much about what the product does, resembling corporate guff. Optimisation sounds as if it is putting machines to the most effective use, not people.

This is why we call our product team planning software.

This encompasses a suite of features and tooling so teams can organise themselves to provide the best possible experience for customers and team members alike, including managers so they aren’t overwhelmed with spreadsheets or needing dedicated teams to make sure the team is in the right place at the right time. We calculate your forecast so you know how many tickets to expect, translate tickets into staffing required so you know how many people you need to solve those tickets. We will build schedules and rotas so your team knows what they will be working on well in advance including their shift patterns. And we provide you with an understanding of past service performance so you can plan to offer even better service in the future.

We also call team members surfers in our product. We think it epitomises what they do: surf the waves of inflow, with their friendly tool, the Surfboard.