How Splitting a Business can Improve its Customer Focus:
A Spotlight on Softlink Information Centres
Do you serve more than one vertical market with your software?
Software companies that serve multiple vertical markets are faced with the challenge of dividing their focus and attention. At Volaris, we believe that a stronger customer focus can enable good businesses to become even better. When teams have the ability to focus on a smaller group of customers, they are able to improve customer service and strengthen their company’s position in the marketplace.
We’ve worked with several of our businesses to help them split into separate units with a stronger customer focus. Softlink is one such company. Already well known for their industry expertise and good service, Softlink split the company so that they could take their customer focus to the next level.
September 2013: Volaris Acquires Softlink
Softlink is a global library management software business headquartered in Brisbane, Australia. When the company joined Volaris, they catered to both school libraries and corporate & legal libraries (or information centres). Acting in the best interests of customers has long been central to Softlink’s identity. Post-acquisition, Softlink continued to invest in its products to meet evolving customer needs and to provide great customer service.
July 2016: Softlink Splits into 2 Business Units
Softlink’s education and corporate customers have similar but different needs. Education clients require a fast-paced system that can handle a large volume of students and printed materials, whereas corporate clients store more electronic materials and therefore require a system focused on digital archives. Softlink provided different software solutions tailored to the needs of each vertical market.
In 2016, Softlink decided that Softlink Education and Softlink Information Centres (Softlink IC) would become separately managed businesses with the intent of optimizing the customer experience and accelerating growth within each distinct market.
Post-Split Improvements at Softlink IC
“After creating Softlink “IC” as an independent business, we were able to truly focus in on the specific needs of our Information Centres customers to serve them even better than we were before.”
— John Crook, General Manager, Softlink IC
Softlink IC has seen improvements to their R&D, Deployment, Customer Support, and Business Development. Softlink IC Technical Service Manager Sarah Thompson describes how each of these functional areas changed after the split:
“We have been able to make significant improvements to our mobile app for our customers, and add a new module for bulk storage of digital content.”
— Sarah Thompson, Technical Service Manager, Softlink IC
A focused development team can better meet the needs of Information Centres clients as they now know them and the issues that need to be solved much more intimately.
“Customers noticed that we were getting their problems solved quite quickly.”
— Sarah Thompson
Deployment specialists are able to spend more time getting to know their corporate customers. By having a deeper understanding of their customers, deployment staff are better able to get their needs addressed.
“Since the split, we’ve been able to improve the quality and consistency of our customer service and support across all of our teams globally.”
— Sarah Thompson
After the split, the company was restructured to allow staff in Brisbane, the US and the UK to work more closely together. Improved cross-border communication is helping staff address the needs of customers in each region.
“We can be more targeted with the events we choose to attend. We’re taking the opportunity to start going to new conferences and we’re going back to ones we haven’t been to in years.”
— Sarah Thompson
Attending industry conferences is one of the top ways vertical market software companies connect with prospects. Now that Softlink IC is focused exclusively on corporate & legal libraries, they can attend more targeted conferences and increase their market exposure.
Improved Service and More Opportunities
By helping larger companies split into more focused businesses we are helping to improve the way customers are served and provide great opportunities for employees. The split from Softlink Education has enabled Softlink IC to become more focused on orienting their R&D, Deployment, Customer Support and Businesses Development toward their Information Centre customers. The company’s staff are able to more easily become experts in their industry, to the benefit of both employees and customers.