Kmart Tyre and Auto Service calls up IT success

Retailer embraces speech recognition technology

Using speech recognition has helped independent car service and tyre retailer Kmart Tyre & Auto Service (KTAS) to pinpoint how effective its marketing spend. The retailer started using the technology and its online analytical tools a year ago.

KTAS marketing general manager, Tony Skallias, said in a statement he was looking for a replacement to its telephone store locator system which relied on callers knowing the postcode of the store they wanted to be connected to.

“Given that we have over 250 stores across Australia, expecting customers to remember post codes was a huge ask and in many instances simply didn’t work.”

The company decided to implement a store locator from speech recognition company Inference Communications. The Inference store locator is a centralised business reporting system which automatically collects data about where calls are coming from and where they’ve been connected to, enabling users like KTAS to drill down to the nature of the calls and profile customers.

Unlike other call locator systems, which ask for a postcode and route a caller to the relevant store, the locator enables callers to be connected without knowledge of postcodes.

Inference CEO Kirsty McCarthy said KTAS also wanted to use the system to understand more about customer behaviour and tailor marketing campaigns.

For example, she said the retailer is using the system to present store specials and information about services in the call. “The company can record a special phone link to a particular region. Inference developed a web portal for KTAS so Tony (Skallias) can click on a particular store such as Castle Hill and record an announcement for phone callers to that store.”

This is done in real time so callers hear the message as soon as it is loaded on to the portal. Each store can log in to the portal as well to change specials every week.

The system will soon be rolled out to state management teams across Australia.

Skallias said state managers will be able to gauge whether calls to their stores are being answered or whether they’re receiving engaged signals. "What this could potentially be telling them is that there are insufficient phone lines or just not enough resources to pick up the calls,” he said.

Provided as an externally hosted service, the locator system has already improved call traffic throughout the entire organisation.

“Because the system can aggregate where calls are coming from, we can now effectively measure channel performance whether it’s online, white pages, catalogues, press, radio or TV.

“This is particularly useful when we’re running an integrated marketing campaign where multiple communication channels are being used,” he said.

“Because each marketing channel is given its own phone number, whenever we run a marketing campaign and the phone begins ringing in response to the campaign, the speech recognition system automatically recognises which number has been called. Once the campaign is over we have a raw measure of where all the calls have come from.”

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Tags kmartbusiness analyticsInteractive Voice Response (IVR)

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