Canadian La-Z-Boy Stores Draw More Customers with Splice Software's VIP Voice Invites

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Like most retailers, La-Z-Boy Furniture Gallery has never shied away from sending out invitations to sales events, but recently was having trouble convincing people to show up. "We'd tried all the various ways of reaching out to our customer base," says Richard Williams, operations and marketing manager at four of the company's 200 North American stores, all in Canada. Whether it was by email or snail mail, "[the challenge was in creating] a balance between irritating someone by sending them so many invites and continually keeping in touch."

In search of new ways to engage buyers, Williams reached out to Splice Software, which provides its clients with authentic human voice recordings to more effectively communicate with customers. Among the services Splice offers is the VIP Voice Invite. Splice's VIP Voice technology uses samples from human actors to create a lifelike, smooth simulation. The program also takes into consideration factors such as gender, age, and nationality, as well as information such as products purchased, when deciding which voice is most appropriate for a customer.

"One of the biggest things for marketers is to make sure that they're not just broadcasting a message," Tara Kelly, CEO of Splice Software, says. "When you think about why you hate telemarketing, part of it is that the timing is always really bad. But it's also that it's totally generic and there's nothing in it for the customer. With La-Z-Boy, we've been able to develop reciprocity. We believe that you should offer [customers] a gift, thank them for participating. Make it a richer experience...so that when you ask for something, you're giving something back."

With this in mind, Williams scheduled events in his stores, three of which are in Calgary and one in Winnipeg. It took less than four weeks to set up a call system with Splice. Drawing from a database of registered customers, the software determined which 28,000 people to invite to each event via the VIP calls. La-Z-Boy reported a 94 percent contact rate—meaning that 94 percent of those contacted listened to more than 75 percent of the message—which led to more people showing up at the events.

The calls got customers into the store, but keeping them there was another story. Splice and Williams worked out a method to ensure that customers felt welcome once they arrived. VIP members received an Italian crystal vase worth between $50 and $100, as well as complimentary food and beverages. When the customers showed up, they’d collect their gift along with a promotion card offering a discount. Though some simply collected their prize and left, many made purchases. The four stores saw a 300 percent increase in traffic and a 200 percent increase in sales over similar events.

Further, replacing physical invitations saved 90 percent on invites, since phone calls typically cost around 15 cents each after Splice's initial set-up fee, while mailed invites can cost up to one dollar apiece.

With the increased foot traffic and festive air, the company reported increased customer engagement. "[Shoppers] show up and they feel loved, they feel valued," Kelly says. "[In the phone calls] we call them by their first names. They're coming to get something that has a fifty- or 100-dollar value, so they're coming with a really great mindset."

The Payoff

Working with Splice Software's VIP Voice to increase event-day attendance and overall sales, a La-Z-Boy retailer acheived the following:

  • a 94 percent overall contact rate with voice-automated invitations;
  • a 90 percent reduction in cost on event-day invitations;
  • a 200 percent increase in sales on event days; and
  • a 300 percent increase in event-day traffic.

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