Airspace is a VC-backed, tech-enabled logistics company providing transportation for time-critical shipments, such as high-tech components or organ donations, that need to be delivered without delay — not the next day or the day after. They operate in the US and Europe and are currently expanding into Asia.
We interviewed Michael Brady, VP of Strategy & Operations, and Jeremy Tackett, Senior Manager of US Domestic Operations to understand their experience of working with Adelante on customizing Zendesk to meet Airspace’s unique needs.
“There’s a core operations team at Airspace that manages the logistics of getting drivers to the right place, ensuring the package gets on the flight, etc” Michael explains, “We have patented tech to manage that process. But it’s not a workflow solution as such. Clients need to communicate with our team via phone, SMS, or email — and we need a system to manage that communication.”
Previously Airspace was using Front — and as it wasn’t a sufficiently mature solution, their agents were stepping on each other’s toes while trying to respond to the volume of emails coming in. They needed a more structured solution, as Michael describes, “We had to fix that ‘stampede’, but also we needed to measure what our agents were doing. If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. We didn’t have visibility of first response times or resolution times across our different subteams.”
There were similar issues in the customer success team, Michael recalls, “They work closely with the operations team so they can proactively reach out to clients if there’s an issue we need to assist with. That communication was happening in a single Slack channel — assigning tasks and following up in a crowded thread with 130 users. We needed to fix that.”
“We decided to bring in Zendesk first of all to make sense of the mass of email communications and bring structure to it. It’s a 100+ person team at the core of what we do — we have to get it right. In our business, email responses need to happen in minutes — even under a minute,” he continues, “It was a high risk, high reward implementation. The whole team needed to migrate at once so they’d be operating out of the same platform — there wasn’t really an option to stage it”.
Before Airspace connected with Adelante, they had worked with a boutique consulting firm on implementing Zendesk, but problems quickly arose. “Their level of technical knowledge was nothing compared to Adelante,” Michael remembers, “They didn’t give us the right advice when we needed it and they failed to adapt to our way of working.”
“And they didn’t give us a heads-up on likely issues or a sense of how hard or easy it would be to achieve something. For example, it wasn’t obvious to us that you can’t easily create shared inboxes, Zendesk isn’t really set up to work like that. So we ran into critical problems where our workflow behavior couldn’t easily be migrated to Zendesk.”
“We realized we needed an implementation partner where the actual working team has in-depth technical knowledge. That’s Adelante full stop. We came across Adelante on LinkedIn. They had great recommendations and they got back to us immediately, which is always a good sign,” explains Jeremy. “They didn’t just say ‘here’s how Zendesk works — you need to adapt to Zendesk’. It was always ‘Let’s figure out how Zendesk can adapt to support you.’”
“Where Adelante stood out from other partners was that those first conversations were not about scoping, how many hours to bill, all that business stuff,” says Michael, “They wanted to understand our problem deeply enough to be clear on whether they could solve it first. That was so great. Most conversations with consultancies aren’t like that — that’s why we kept talking!”
Michael sees Adelante’s consultative approach as having been key to the success of the engagement, commenting, “We had certain problems, and they very patiently sought to understand the actual behavior we wanted, case by case, without presumption.”
“They would scope the problem, set everything up in the project management tool, and then review each element of the proposed solutions with us in plain English to ensure they aligned with our goals. That sounds basic — but it really isn’t. From that first meeting, we knew it was going to go well, it gave us a lot of confidence.”
Jeremy adds, “The issues we would run into, given the time/critical nature of our business, called for time/critical solutions. Adelante’s response times and the thoroughness of their scoping gave us confidence we could troubleshoot and solve issues at the pace we needed.”
“I’d say the most effective aspect of the project,” Jeremy continues, “is that in contrast to the previous support we’d received, with Adelante there was a quick understanding of the difference between native Zendesk behavior and how we need and expect our platform to operate. They got that we needed customization to make Zendesk fit our specific needs and were able to quickly build out solutions that adapted to our workflows.”
“That level of ownership is amazing to get from a boutique consultant partner,” adds Michael, “They care about us as a client — often the bigger firms don’t. And there’s no time wasted in meetings, they are able to scope and implement quickly. We’re not a small firm, we have around 200 agents. For anyone in a similar zone — where you’re not big enough to bring in deep technical resources but you need a technical partner — I think Adelante is the perfect match.”
“The last thing I’d like to point out, that I appreciated,” says Jeremy “is that beyond the scoping and troubleshooting, Adelante was able to instill confidence in us, that we’d picked the right solution, we understood it, and that we’d be able to implement it properly. It’s one thing to be presented with a problem and then fix it, but what Adelante does exceptionally well is to take a very complex solution, present it in a way that’s digestible, and allow us to understand it and build on it to prevent future issues arising.”