2007, Indian Railways awarded a contract to Bharat BPO to operate its train enquiry service called Rail Sampark, which is based on the interactive voice response (IVR) system. Under this service, a consumer can dial 139 from a landline or mobile to get train information such as PNR status, current train running position, seat availability and fare enquiry.
Bharat BPO is a joint venture between Omnia BPO, a Spice Telecom group company, and Spanco Telesystems.
Now almost nine months after the contract has been implemented by Bharat BPO, the company is planning to monetise the inbound calls it receives on its IVR system from various parts of India by allowing marketers to advertise during the calls.
According to Shubhendu Ranjan Deb, general manager, marketing, Bharat BPO, "Our deal with Indian Railways enables us to rope in advertisers to monetise the process."
The service receives four lakh calls every day from all over India; in the next three months, this number is expected to go up to 16 lakh per day, and by the end of the financial year, to 128 lakh calls per day.
"This is an amazing number and we have plans to use this opportunity to allow advertising while the call is in progress. We can run a 10 second jingle while the information asked for is being retrieved," says Deb.
He adds, "We can also use our technology to segment callers as per a marketer's need. We can offer marketers consumer targeting based on language, location, time bands and caller identification number."
Bharat BPO has already set up a space selling team to rope in advertisers, but Deb is not ready to disclose whether they have any advertisers on board as yet. There are plans to promote the 139 number through TV, print, radio, Internet and mobile. However, no advertising agency has been hired as yet to develop the campaign.
Bharat BPO also offers SMS alerts to inform consumers about their PNR status. The Rail Sampark service is available in 11 languages - Hindi, English, Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Marathi, Gujarati, Bangla, Oriya and Assamese. The calls are handled from four centres based in Noida, Ahmedabad, Mysore and Kolkata.