STORES Magazine - June 2008 - (Page 70)

NUTS AND BOLTS / SUPPLY CHAIN Directory Assistance Call-routing system has Radiator Express hitting on all cylinders BY LEN LEWIS t may not be the sexiest thing in retailing, but the selling of car and truck radiators is proving to be one of the most recessionproof businesses in the country. I “It’s not one of those parts that you can wait to have repaired,” says Mike Carvalho, chief technology officer of Radiator Express. With customer service now a key differentiator in sales and marketing, however, even the best economic conditions and escalating demand won’t make up for a phone system that allows customer orders to fall through the cracks. This was the scenario facing the Benicia, Calif.-based franchisor, which has been successfully serving the radiator and auto parts market for nearly 25 years. The company’s rapid growth in sales resulted in an expanding network, which now consists of 220 franchisees across the country. But growth also put a severe strain on call data capacity. “Basically, we distribute products from 70 STORES / JUNE 2008 Routing solution Qwest, the company’s carrier, The closer a call is to a border between suggested that Radiator Express infranchises, the more scrutiny it receives, vestigate a solution offered by with the system asking more questions so AdGeo, a St. Louis-based company that the call can be routed properly. specializing in call routing, tracking continued to exand reporting and data mining systems. It pand. As recently as did, and the switch to AdGeo was fully January 2007, “we integrated in June 2007. were doing our own “There were some issues to work phone systems in through, such as misconfigurations on house using a prodthe initial set-up which impacted routuct provided to us ing of some calls,” Carvalho says. “But by MCI,” Carvalho the AdGeo team did everything they says. But area codes could to make the switchover as painless and ZIP codes don’t as possible. It was basically a matter of necessarily corredeveloping standard operating proceWWW.STORES.ORG the manufacturers to our customers, who are made up of automotive body shops, parts stores and dealerships,” Carvalho says. “They are the ones that order through our toll-free numbers, and we can usually deliver to them within two hours.” While the company has a growing retail component generated through its website and online auctions, the bulk of Radiator Express’s sales come via the telephone. “When calls come into our toll-free lines they are routed to franchisees,” Carvalho says. The territories and boundaries of each franchisee are determined by ZIP code. This system became one of the company’s biggest challenges as its network spond neatly to one another. “The result was that in large metro areas like Chicago we had franchisees whose borders came together or overlapped and who sometimes shared area codes,” he says. Consequently, the number of calls going to the incorrect franchisee was increasing. “The problem was simply a lack of accuracy,” says Brian McNichols, network manager for Radiator Express. At that point, the company was receiving about 11,000 calls per day through its main toll-free number and about 75 secondary lines (the secondary numbers align with advertisements for ROI tracking purposes). Identifying incoming calls by area code and prefix “was about as granular as we could get,” McNichols says. “The downside was that the same area code and prefix combination could exist in two different ZIP codes with different franchisees. We basically had to default one way or another.” Radiator Express then created “exception tables” that would automatically route calls when a specific number came up. “The problem was with our large wholesale customers,” McNichols says. “Every time they added a new telephone number or moved or changed a number, it became an exception. The situation became even more complex with the addition of new franchises. http://WWW.STORES.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of STORES Magazine - June 2008

STORES Magazine - June 2008
Executive Editor's Page
President's Page
Tesco Tests Carbon Labels
What Shoppers Think
10 Things You May Have Missed
Numbers Worth Counting
Full Price/Markdown
Retail People
Cover Story: Boom - or Bust
Green Retailing
Online Marketing
Building Traffic
Water Management
Digital Marketing
Loyalty Programs
Special Report: Taking on Teens
Supply Chain - Robo Crop
Human Resources
Supply Chain - Directory Assistance
Loeb Retail Letter
ARTS Update
Point of View
NRF News
Retail Crossword
Retail Industry Calendar
Last Laugh

STORES Magazine - June 2008