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Transforming Customer Service in Downstream with Salesforce

In an industry notorious for slow, manual processes in which the customer often takes a back seat to operations, a multibillion-dollar refining company recognized an opportunity to transform critical business processes to refocus on the customer. At the time, the customer service team was stretched thin because of the high-touch, manual and paper-based processes. The sales team operated with very little information on customer activity, inventory positions and contract margins. There was very little connection between the refinery distribution operations, the sales team and the corporate functions and systems.

The refining leadership team wanted to redefine the customer experience to what customers have come to expect from the likes of Amazon, United Airlines, UPS and their personal bank – an experience in which they have access to information any time of day and by any medium (i.e., phone, tablet and computer); an experience of being able to communicate and transact with their supplier without phone calls, emails and delays. The leadership wanted to provide visibility into not only what a customer ordered, but also the status of the order fulfillment, transit time, product specifications, BOLs, COAs and invoices. The challenges included changing the refinery’s own processes, culture, systems and data to support a real-time, integrated and insightful order-to-cash process that delivered value to both the refiner and its customers.

To address this challenge, the refiner engaged Opportune because of its industry and technology expertise, plus Opportune’s ability to innovate in new and agile ways. By leveraging the power of the Salesforce platform and its Sales, Service and Community Cloud capabilities, Opportune’s team delivered a solution that exceeded everyone’s expectations in a mere four months. Primary capabilities delivered include:

  • Order Entry & Management – Customers are now able to view their existing orders, submit and edit orders and view BOLs, COAs, invoices, pricing and confirmations. The entire process is integrated real-time with multiple refinery systems, including the supply and trading system (Right Angle), the rail system, the terminal management system and document management system.
  • Customer Self-Service – The customer can access important account information such as contracts, invoices, BOLs and certificate of quality documents, order confirmations and other relevant information related to the refinery’s products and operations.
  • Case Management – If customers can’t find what they need, they can submit inquiries to change an order load date, request a product sample and investigate pricing discrepancies. The Salesforce system routes customer inquiries to the right personnel and tracks response times. The data is useful for training support personnel to improve service levels and identify customers that have recurring problems that might lead to low satisfaction and retention.
  • Business Process Automation – The Salesforce platform automates processes that were once manual and time-consuming, such as notifying customers of pricing changes or generating and sending order confirmations. The real-time integration of key systems reduces manual entry and improves data quality and timeliness.
  • Advanced Analytics – The Cloud solution provides robust customer activity and contract performance reporting and analytics to all users via browser, tablet and phone. The system provides a holistic view of customer activity to the sales team, including expiring contracts, pricing, volumes and service issues.

In a little over four months, Opportune added value by delivering a customer engagement experience that streamlined the order-to-cash process, increased customer satisfaction, reduced support costs and provided insights previously unavailable to the sales and customer service teams. They now have access to a holistic, 360-degree view of the customer anytime they need it through the web or their phone, enabling them to respond to customer needs and serve the customer in a way that is more akin to a relationship with UPS vs. the USPS.

Industry-leading performance requires leading technology and insight. Opportune combines deep understanding of the energy industry and the market-leading digital platform, Salesforce, to enable energy companies to define and implement business transformation strategies that drive financial and operational improvement in the highly competitive energy industry. For more information, CLICK HERE.

William Saunders

ManagerOpportune LLP