The Silicon Review
In today’s digital world, internet technology is a powerful driver for libraries. Librarians must think strategically about their library’s technology offerings and come up with cost effective solutions to address the ever-changing needs of their community. The Internet presents many opportunities for libraries to innovate, boost engagement with users, and align services to meet the information-seeking needs of their community. Librarians can leverage digital technology to become a valuable – and necessary – community partner and to help users thrive in a digital-first world.
Various companies work relentlessly to create digital technology solutions for libraries, but one that stands out from the rest is Springshare. The company has built an impeccable reputation for providing affordable cloud-based solutions to help libraries better serve their users. By using Springshare tools, librarians shine in their communities. LibGuides is an easy-to-use content management system designed to help libraries showcase resources and promote library content. Springshare’s LibAnswers Platform is a virtual reference and helpdesk suite enabling libraries to offer 24/7 chat help, text-a-librarian service, searchable FAQs, social media management, and more. LibCal is a calendaring, event registration, and space/seat reservation platform that has been instrumental in helping libraries (and buildings of all types) reopen safely amid the COVID-19 crisis. LibStaffer takes the headache out of scheduling and staffing service points. Usage statistics are extremely important to libraries, and they rely on Springshare’s LibInsight platform for analytics and deep insight into the usage of library services. Last but not least, LibCRM is a customer relationship management platform designed specifically for libraries, with strong emphasis on user privacy and data security. Springshare was founded in 2007 and is based in Miami, Florida. The company has over 6,500 libraries on board, in 80+ countries.
In conversation with Slaven Zivkovic, Founder and CEO of Springshare
Q. Whom do you give credit for your business success? Why?
I grew up watching my father’s successful business career, and how he went from being an engineer to a skilled business leader. Applying his engineering acumen and scientific problem-solving approach translated well into solving business challenges for him – and that is what I aim to emulate as well. My dad has been the biggest and the most positive role model in my business career to date.
Q. What motivated you to develop a dedicated platform for librarians?
My first real job was at my college library. Timing-wise this was in the 90s when the Internet was just starting to really take hold in many walks of life. Working at the library, I saw the Internet’s enormous potential to help libraries expand their reach and increase engagement with users. Libraries are true societal treasures, so helping libraries succeed helps our society get better, more informed, and more engaged. Frankly, it is the best job in the world, and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else!
Q. Do you provide training services to prepare the librarian to use your tools efficiently?
Absolutely. We offer unlimited and free web-based training via our dedicated training team. All training sessions are recorded, and updated frequently, so clients can either attend live or watch the recording at their leisure. Additionally, we put on an annual virtual user conference for our clients called SpringyCamp, also completely free, where customers can learn how other libraries are maximizing usage of our tools.
Q. What are the factors that affect your cost? How do you maintain affordability?
We’re cognizant of the fact that our customers (libraries) are not as appreciated as they really ought to be, and that library budgets are always in flux. So, from the very start, our goal was to make our software as affordable as possible so that any library – large or small – can afford it. This means we run our operations as efficiently as possible, and we squeeze every bit of efficiency out of everything we do. We’re constantly optimizing our infrastructure so that it can handle more with less. We’re always innovating with various support and training initiatives to keep our costs down yet we continue providing a superior customer service experience to our libraries – our support is widely recognized as the best in our markets. We’ve been doing this for 13+ years, and I’ve been in the library market for 20+ years. Over time, we’ve accumulated a large volume of institutional knowledge and expertise in producing high-quality software at low prices. We never want to be in a situation where a library really needs our software but cannot afford it.
Q. Tell us about your customer service system.
Providing the absolute best customer service to our clients, free of charge, is truly in our DNA. Our customer service approach is a shared value that is reinforced daily, from the top down. Every single person at Springshare answers customer queries, from the CEO onwards – I spend many hours every week answering support queries. It’s the best way for us to learn what works vs. what features/screens inside our apps need more work. We also have a very strong social media presence where we actively engage with our customers. We often say that we’re a customer-service company first and foremost, and that we also make software, too! Our software is important, of course, but what truly separates us from the rest in the market is our high-touch customer service. Our customer service team is the largest team in the company – and that’s by design!
Q. Do you have any new services ready to be launched?
Yes! We’re launching a Pickup Manager tool that will allow building managers to create a simple reservation system to help users schedule pickup times of their requested physical items. When the user arrives to pickup their items, they can communicate with staff in the building via SMS/Chat right from their smartphones to let staff know that they’re outside awaiting delivery. This tool will be not only immensely helpful to libraries to deliver books to patrons but to any organization or group on-campus (and beyond) seeking to optimize and improve delivery workflows of physical items. Every year, we come up with a new module and new functionality to help our customers stay on top of their users’ changing needs. Even though we’re 13 years old, in many ways we’re just getting started – the opportunity to continue helping our libraries thrive is still wide open to us.
Meet the leader behind the success of Springshare
Slaven Zivkovic, the Founder and CEO of Springshare, is an ed-tech entrepreneur with a history of library innovations. Slaven started his career as a library technology assistant at his college library, where he worked while pursuing a degree in computer engineering. After completing his degree, Mr. Zivkovic co-founded Docutek Information Systems, one of the early entrants in virtual reference and electronic reserves space. Mr. Zivkovic founded Springshare in 2007 and has led its growth ever since.