BACKGROUND: Plow & Hearth (P&H), a division of, is a national catalog company that specializes in products for country living. Begun in 1980 as a small retail store, Plow & Hearth has experienced tremendous growth in its 18-year history. Plow & Hearth is known for running its business on ideals you find in a country store: good value, high quality, exceptional service and an unconditional guarantee on all of its products.

PLATFORMS: DecisionPOC runs on Windows 95, 98 and NT platforms and interfaces with data from anywhere, including SAS, Oracle, DB2, Informix, Sybase and ODBC-compliant sources.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Plow & Hearth needed a way to predict customer purchase behavior at the point of sale. The company wanted to increase the penetration and profitability of its point of sale up-selling efforts during the Christmas season. They expected to leverage the real-time scoring capabilities of DecisionPOC and reduce costs, improve operational efficiencies and at the same time increase response. By making more relevant offers to its customers, Plow & Hearth expected to improve the customer's shopping experience and ultimately increase customer lifetime value.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The implementation of DecisionPOC into Plow & Hearth's point-of-sale operating system proved to be quite simple. There was very little disruption to its MIS and customer satisfaction departments. The product integrated seamlessly with ModelMax, A.S.A's predictive modeling software package, thus allowing Plow & Hearth to produce real-time scoring at the point of sale. DecisionPOC allows new scripts to be easily developed and quickly moved into production.

STRENGTHS: Plow & Hearth chose to implement DecisionPOC because it integrates with ModelMax, a product the company has used for several years, allowing real-time scoring to be used at the point of contact. The system promised easy implementation and the ability to make fast, dynamic changes to scripts with very little involvement from Plow & Hearth's MIS staff.

WEAKNESSES: Plow & Hearth's reporting and measurement capabilities are limited at this point in time. The data stream flowing into DecisionPOC needs to be supplemented to make a full accounting of the product's impact. The reporting function in DecisionPOC is a little cumbersome, so much of the reporting will be done through offline database analysis until the reporting function enhancements are released.

SELECTION CRITERIA: DecisionPOC was selected because Plow & Hearth has a long track record of success with ModelMax and was confident that real-time scoring would greatly improve the effectiveness and profitability of its point of sale up-selling efforts. The product was also easily implemented and allowed for fast dynamic changes to scripts.

DELIVERABLES: Using DecisionPOC, Plow & Hearth has maximized its cross-sell and up-sell opportunities at the item level. Customer service agents are prompted with selling scripts as each line item is entered into its system. A second DecisionPOC module scores each customer in real time with a response model built using A.S.A's ModelMax. Customer service agents are scripted to attempt the sale of phone "specials" based on each customer's score. The penetration rate of phone special sales nearly tripled in just two weeks after implementation and, at the same time, the number of offers was greatly reduced. The profitability of the phone special program improved dramatically.

VENDOR SUPPORT: A.S.A's staff is very professional and has gone beyond the call of duty in getting P&H up and running on and benefiting from DecisionPOC. A.S.A is a very customer-focused company.

DOCUMENTATION: The online and printed documentation is being published in fall 1999.

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