How we helped Spidertracks stay globally connected 24/7
8 MIN READ
In 2005 when a high profile New Zealander crashed his helicopter and was not found for two weeks, Spidertracks was soon born and was given a mission to keep an eye on every plane that has a “Spider” in its cockpit, to help save lives, no less.
It’s one of those rare products that provides value that can’t be measured in currency, as it relies on exceptional engineering and seamless communication to keep things running smoothly. There’s only so much insurance that you can buy for malfunctions, whereas Spidertracks has become synonymous with reliable tracking and support in the midst of mother nature’s most violent aftermath. In essence, a lot of people depend on their Spiders to work and for Spidertracks to be there when things don’t go according to plan.
It goes without saying that having a robust phone system is critical when a business is in the business of providing a peace of mind, and for Spidertracks to operate as both efficiently and effectively as humanly possible, they tapped us to help them connect to their customers worldwide.
Bread and Butter: Real-time flight tracking with enhanced communication capability no matter where the pilot happens to be
Operations: Spidertracks operates in every continent and have offices/team members in NZ, RSA, USA, and CA
Customers: From amateur pilots to commercial airlines, a Spider can be spotted in over 100 countries and is trusted by thousands of aircraft operations
Call Routing Setup: Incoming calls can be directed to four departments (Support, Sales, Accounts, and Main Office)
Phone Setup: Everyone but sales people uses a wired desk phone that’s connected through VoIP (the sales team has individual mobile plans)
When we first sat down with Spidertracks’ ops and support team to talk through their challenges, we asked them a simple question: what is the single most important problem that you would like to solve with a new phone system?
Their answer: To be able to provide seamless support to our customers worldwide
It didn’t take long for us to diagnosis their current set up of communication challenges, some harder to solve than others:
The effectiveness of their call routing is limited by the fact that their “Business Hours” can only be configured to one office (HQ), even though they have customers in every time zone. The result was a high number of missed calls when the customer called “Out of Hours” even though someone was technically available but is not located in HQ.
Another challenge they faced was one that continues to hover above many SMBs in 2017: being tied to a desk phone. I think we can all agree that desk phones should go into the same R.I.P. bucket as beepers (remember those?) and even my beloved iPods.
One other hidden challenge that often gets overlooked is the costs associated with setting up a new user and maintaining your phone system in case something goes south. Spidertracks has spent tens of thousands in maintenance costs over the years and the amount of time spent on setting up each new user can easily outweigh the costs of their monthly service. The concept of future proofing your existing business tools can’t be overstated in this case — What is your time worth when you start to scale your business?
We had always envisioned Cradle to be a communication tool for the globally connected. But frankly, we didn’t have the necessary working solutions that were required for solving their most pressing problem for a good 1–2 months. This gave us a high degree of motivation to focus building out a couple of core features that would dramatically change how their customers’ calls would get routed. In turn, solving their primary challenges led us to completely redesign how our current and future users would set up their routing scheme from both a UI and structural standpoint. In essence, their communication challenge became a universal one.
From a product standpoint, our old routing scheme was very limiting in that it only allowed one routing engine per org, even if this didn’t represent the way the business was organized in the physical world. In order to accommodate Spidertracks’ multi-office and time zone customer support operation, we sought to completely overhaul the existing relationship between an office number and what you can do with this number. In other words, instead of being given a single choice for your pizza topping, you’re now given a platter full of them (extra olives, yum!).
With our new feature Offices we can now help Spidertracks set up an unique routing scheme for each number and/or office. This single-handily solves their primary goal — to be able to provide seamless support to our customers worldwide — where now calls can be better routed based on a set of rules unique to each number and/or office or also known as “follow the sun” strategy. For example, if a caller in North America calls the U.S. hotline out of their normal business hours, the calls can be routed to the support team in South Africa to maximize the chance of it being picked up by a live person.
With Cradle every employee is now connected through a centralized phone system. The entire sales team can now be connected within the routing engine without losing their individual mobile number. This helps prospective customers reach the sales team faster when they call in, regardless of which number they’ve dialed. With Cradle Spidertracks is able to create custom roles such as “Sales-HQ” and “Sales-North America” and connect them to the most appropriate office number, even if their current location doesn’t match the number’s area code. Very soon they will also be able to route calls based on each user’s Presence which will add even more coverage and flexibility to their workflow.
Before Cradle Spidertracks was only able to transfer calls to any individual with a sitting desk phone. So if someone was on a business trip or out-of-office, then they were outta luck.
With Cradle users can easily transfer calls to the appropriate person and set clear expectation for the caller on the other end of the line. In addition, the team can see who’s actually available to take the call by relying on Presenceso they can reduce the number of calls being transferred to voicemails. With Teams everyone also feels more closely connected as they can put a face next to each name and know that they can talk to one another with just one click (no more need for Skype).
Rather than paying third-party IT thousands to maintain their phone system and shipping desk phones to their team around the world, Spidertracks can maintain their phone system with minimal efforts and the peace of mind that everything just works. Better yet, they can reinvest the time and money notspent on getting everything to work, into more productive areas such as product innovation and team bonding trips!
After running a pilot with small group of brave users, we rolled out Cradle to the entire org eight weeks later as soon as Offices became live. It didn’t take long for them to give us their honest feedback (having encountered a few small obstacles initially). One of the main points of opportunity is not being able to see more information for each call when another user takes the call (currently it just says “missed call”). This limitation will be resolved by our upcoming feature called Shared Call History which will provide more contextual insight for each call such as “Picked up by James” or “Voicemail sent to Gary”.
Overall, the sentiment has been overwhelmingly positive, especially in areas of user experience and call quality. One of our most recent feedback came from their South Africa based support hero, Nadine.
We’ve been using the app now for almost a month with calls being routed to me via the South African registered number. This is by far, the best internet call service and surpasses the ever popular Skype, a million times over! Making international calls from South Africa has always been a challenge due to expense and line delays but I haven’t had any issues with Cradle at all. It streamlined our process and made things so much easier and more efficient. Thank you!
Reading this out loud in front of the whole company made every single late nighter, bug smashing sesh, and heated debate, feel that much more validating and worthwhile. In the end, we were able to effectively create a flexible and all encompassing routing scheme that ensured that their customers would connect to a live person regardless of where/when they were calling. We also made their operations a lot less painful (no more coming in on Saturday mornings!) and provided every employee a way to stay connected with their customers and each other. When their customers give them praises for their stellar customer service, then it’s a small win for us at the end of the day.