Cox Marks Stage 1 of Data Warehouse

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Cox Communications Inc., Atlanta, has completed the initial phase of its data warehousing project, and is scheduled to launch its first enhanced, targeted direct marketing initiative to customers April 1.

The data warehouse is complete 10 months after the company -- which serves 3.8 million residential customers in 18 U.S. markets -- took its database management function inhouse and began segmenting its market. It turned its database into an open, client server-based system with two data marts: one for finance and one for marketing.

Cox collects real-time customer data from its Web page, its nine call centers and from direct mail material it generates for its cable television services along with digital video television, high-speed Internet access services and local and long-distance telephone services. The database includes names and addresses as well as behavioral and purchasing information from both its customers and noncustomers in the areas it serves.

By April 1, Cox expects to append all of this data together, and use a variety of data mining and OLAP tools to find cross-sell opportunities and help it get the right product line and message targeted to the right customers at the right time.

"We will find out the defined target audience of each of these products," said Virginia Gray, vice president of marketing at Cox.

Cox will use campaign management product Prime Vantage from Prime Response Inc., Denver, to track and analyze its customer contact.

"We are going to track every time we touch a particular customer," said Margaret Ross, director of direct response and database marketing. "And, we are going to collect how they came back to us and why they have come back to us." Cox also will have the ability to learn the best way to reach customers -- through e-mail, direct mail or by telephone, for example.

"We are also planning to develop very personalized retention programs," Ross said. "We will be able to identify those customers with the highest lifetime value and then put them on retention tracks."

Ross added that over the next year, the information collected and tracked in the marketing data mart will enable her department to make recommendations on the best way to use Cox's marketing budget.

The data warehouse initiative is scheduled to last three years, and will be updated and improved each quarter.

Meanwhile, another telecommunications provider, Bell Atlantic, New York, has selected Boston-based Exchange Applications' Valex campaign management software to use in the first stage of a multiphase customer relationship management project.

Bell Atlantic will use the product to market products and services to more than 11 million residential customers in seven Northeastern states.

The company will use Valex to create direct marketing campaigns based on customer needs, to capture promotion history for future campaigns and to implement marketing programs that integrate different offers across multiple channels.

Similar to Cox, the company is expecting the product to increase customer retention, cross-sell and upsell rates, profit-per-customer and overall revenues.

In addition to implementing Valex, Exchange is working with Bell Atlantic's internal IT and marketing staff to create an integrated campaign database across the enterprise that satisfies privacy and other regulatory mandates. Later this year, Bell Atlantic plans to use Valex to market to millions of small business customers.

The first phase is scheduled for completion the first quarter of FY99.

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