Airplane is infrastructure for internal tooling. Here’s how they do support.
Why we love Airplane
Internal tooling is every startup’s kryptonite: under-invested in, yet core to the success of the company. But most SaaS offerings in the internal tooling space are decidedly low-code, making it hard for engineering-centric companies to get the degree of customization they need.
Squarely focused on developers, Airplane allows companies to build internal UI with just a few lines of code. Whenever it comes to deciding whether to build from scratch or look externally, Airplane wants companies to consider the in-between. It offers a rich React library, easily configurable permissions and integrations into existing systems.
How the Airplane team works
The team works in Notion, Linear and GitHub while support at Airplane happens through a combination of channels:
Email is the broadest channel and available for anyone
Airplane’s in-app form is available to customers using Airplane’s dashboard only. Using a structured format like a form allows Airplane to get all the information they need, cutting down on unnecessary back and forth
Slack Connect channels to stay close to both enterprise and prospective customers
Linear to track any work that needs to happen for customers, such as bug fixes, feature requests or other product tasks
How Airplane uses Plain
Before discovering Plain, the team had been using Intercom. While the tool would have been sufficient for the needs of a typical e-commerce company, like handling refunds or general questions, co-founder Josh Ma found it lacking when it came to features modern B2B SaaS companies would find useful.
“We really missed all the enterprise features a technical team would need, like ticket SLAs or assigning a priority level to incoming conversations,” Ma says, “For urgent issues, it was often hard to understand what areas had been impacted or to have a workflow to trigger pager duty.”
Per-seat pricing was also a concern for Airplane, who, like most engineering-centric companies, view support as a company-wide responsibility.
“Switching to Plain was a forward-thinking move on our part,” says Ma, who appreciates Plain’s vision for developer-first support tooling.
“It’s just very straightforward, there’s just not a whole lot of bloated features. UI-wise it’s just beautiful, no distracting buttons and sidebars,” adds Robert Guss, Support Engineer at Airplane.
The team loves just how fast Plain feels, especially the ability to prioritize customers based on different needs: feature requests being lower priority than bug issues, tracking who’s been helped and who hasn’t.
Customization through API
“As a support team with an engineering background, the API-first approach is great. There’s a lot out-of-the-box already, but we were able to use webhooks to customize Plain to our particular use cases.”
Plain also allowed Airplane to build an in-app contact form that feels deeply integrated into the product, providing a seamless experience.
“The form also gives us the specific area in the app that’s affected and certain ID numbers that lead us straight to the issue, which is a huge timesaver,” says Guss.
“Forms are notoriously hard, so the fact that Plain makes this so dynamic and true to our needs is incredibly valuable,” adds Ma.
Support as a retention mechanism
Airplane intend to stay lean and plan to keep it that way for the foreseeable future. So there’s an expectation that every engineer participates in support.
“I can’t tell you how often people mention the support they receive from Robert as being key to their loyalty to the product,” says Ma.
To Airplane, support is a crucial retention mechanism – a deeply held belief they share with Plain.
Want to learn more about Plain?
As a support team with an engineering background, the API-first approach is great. There’s a lot out-of-the-box already, but we were able to use webhooks to customize Plain to our particular use cases.
Co-Founder & CTO, Airplane
Airplane wanted a tool built for B2B SaaS, rather than one-size-fits-all
Plain's interface provided a workflow tailored to engineering-centric teams
Airplane easily implemented a custom in-app contact form using Plain’s API, helping reduce time lost to triaging
The developer platform for internal tools. Thousands of engineers use Airplane to rapidly build UIs and workload automation for engineering, support, and operations teams.