Firestone Expands Customer Care, Business Intelligence

Firestone expands business-intelligence and customer-interaction capabilities
With all the news about tire recalls, Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. might sound like it could use help with customer loyalty. But the company's retail division, which includes Firestone Tire & Service centers, MasterCare by Firestone, and other auto-service shops, has had a successful customer-loyalty and campaign-management system in place for two years, and the Rolling Meadows, Ill., division is expanding its business-intelligence and customer-interaction capabilities.

Bridgestone/Firestone uses campaign-management software from NuEdge Systems LLC to segment 30 million customers from its 1,500 automotive-service centers. The software sorts through data collected from point-of-sale systems, including how frequently customers visit the shop and how much they spend. It's adding on-line analytical processing software from MicroStrategy Inc. for in-depth analysis of customer trends. In June, the company will debut a Web site, www.mymastercare, where customers can look up their car's maintenance record.

Bridgestone/Firestone wants to identify those customers who might be coaxed into its shops more frequently with the right incentives, and lapsed customers who haven't shown up for a while. The NuEdge system is used to mail coupons, special offers, and other incentives to keep customers loyal. About 15% of its customers account for 60% of sales, and those reached in this way are 50% more likely to come into a service center, says Jim Stahulak, database and Internet marketing manager. "Many people would rather do their taxes or go to the dentist than have their car repaired," he says.

The campaign-management system works only with data about customers who have come to a Bridgestone/Firestone service center and didn't play a role in last year's recall of some six million potentially defective tires. In fact, Stahulak says the system has helped the company build relationships with customers who came to the service centers for replacement tires.

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