- Investment in service and development doubles -
15 July 2003 ~ Many companies that started out riding the dot-com roller
coaster, notably Boo.com, have long since been thrown off the tracks and
ceased trading. Others still struggle on as public companies, weighed down
with high costs, low growth and disappointed expectations. One year ago
Actinic Software, the best-selling developer of ecommerce software, took a
different course, launching a management buy out (MBO) from the London
Stock Exchange. A year on reveals a remarkable turnaround in the fortunes
of the company. Costs have been cut and sales targets have consistently
been beaten. Before the MBO Actinic had never been profitable -- now it has
just posted its seventh consecutive month in the black.
Chief executive Chris Barling attributes Actinic's success to its strategy
of targeted investment married with careful control of costs. He comments,
"Whilst cutting costs following a management buy out is text book stuff, we
wanted to adopt a more positive approach. We always believed that customer
service was crucial, but this issue had received far too little management
attention while we were public, particularly running up to the MBO. Since
then it has been our number one priority, and a few months ago we started
receiving unsolicited compliments. While we cut costs in every other area,
we have nearly doubled the number of customer service staff. As we've seen
sales rise and profits flow, we feel totally vindicated in taking what
could be regarded as a risky business approach."
Actinic's customer service has been improved by centralising the department
alongside other core parts of the company; recruiting specialist staff; and
deploying sophisticated technology that helps the team, and enables both
customers and partners to access the new Knowledge Base.
Now Actinic is focusing on the ongoing development its core products, using
offshore recruitment to continue keeping costs down while maintaining
product quality. The company, which already employs five Hungarian
developers, recently signed a contract to employ another five programmers,
this time in India.
Two surveys on service quality have found that of those who have called
Actinic in the previous month, an average of 90% will recommend Actinic to
other companies. Phil Rothwell, Actinic's business development director,
comments, "Customer service can be seen as a cost, but we don't view it
that way. The cheapest way of getting the word out is by recommendation,
so there are huge business benefits that flow from good support. A bonus
is that we all want to work for a company that takes its obligations to its
customers seriously, so there are staff morale and retention benefits too."
The change in Actinic since its MBO has not gone unnoticed by customers:
"As a small business owner it's reassuring to know the guys at Actinic are
still there to help on an ongoing basis," says Richard Fisher, director of
"I emailed Actinic technical support directly, the same morning I posted
the problem on this site. I was amazed and impressed to get a reply within
2 hours! It's saved us a lot in lost sales so thanks again," adds Stuart
Reedie of www.homevisionUK.com
"Since converting all of our online commerce activities to Actinic
software, our sales have become far more manageable, from stock control to
order processing. Also, our in-house technical team can now show a 100%
time saving in updating the site templates and adding, amending or deleting
products. For our non-technical staff, the fear factor of ecommerce
software has now been removed after four years online," says Mike Murphy of
For further comment, contact:
Chris Barling, Actinic Software. Tel: 0845 129 4800, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Actinic's PR: Jane Lee, Dexterity. Tel 01273 470199, email@example.com.
About Actinic Software Ltd.: Actinic power more UK ecommerce sites than any
other company. Search for 'acatalog' on Google to see the vast range of
online stores that run using Actinic. Founded in 1996, Actinic specialises
in developing PC-based ecommerce software for small and medium enterprises
(SMEs) that want to sell online. Actinic is a key partner in the DTI's UK
online for business programme. Some of Actinic's better known UK users
include the Royal Opera House, Lloyds of London, Focus Do-it-All, Robert
Dyas, the Royal Navy and Help the Aged. Visit www.actinic.co.uk
Trademarks: Actinic Catalog is a registered trademark of Actinic Software
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