Applying Customer Experience to B2B Relationships in the Oil & Gas Industry

For the engineering, procurement, and construction companies (EPCs) in the oil and gas industry serving the owner operators (OOs), customer experience should extend far beyond customer support or contractual obligations. The mandate in B2B is that you become a strategic partner, helping your customers to execute their most important value-maximizing initiatives. This means you may not only configure/customize your products or services to meet their needs, but you take it a step further and develop your relationship into an invaluable partnership in which you transfer and share knowledge with one another, resulting in mutual increased revenues or decreased cost of doing business.

With WTI and Brent lingering in the $40/barrel range, minimizing the operational costs of your OO customers is essential. EPCs can do this by providing OOs with the information necessary to make data-driven purchasing decisions based on historical performance and maintenance costs. In addition, having detailed specifications of complex equipment provides the customer with the ability to build a complete bill of materials (BOMs), which minimizes downtime or reduced capacity when addressing maintenance issues. These enhanced capabilities can minimize the cost of ownership of their operational assets across the organization.

Another common problem facing a number of the leading OOs in the industry revolves around effectively managing data in a way that not only supports day-to-day operations, but enhances it by providing insight that leads to action. Typically, ineffectively managed data results in operational inefficiencies, as well as regulatory or safety incidents, all of which can have financial implications.

If EPCs are committed to optimizing the customer experience of their OO customers, they need to establish common organizational objectives in all aspects of the value chain. This can be done by establishing a center of excellence where all areas of the business are represented and can take ownership for driving the necessary changes. Second, they need to remain “in-the-know” on common business problems that customers face and take proactive measures to co-create solutions with customers. This may include partnering to understand their needs rather than telling (or assuming) what they need. No one knows your customer’s business better than your customer. Lastly, there needs to be a continual feedback loop that provides a channel to solicit and act upon feedback from both their employees and customers. As previously mentioned, a center of excellence that is responsible for driving the change initiatives can also be the “eyes and ears” of the organization while evangelizing the needed cultural shift.

If you want to stay competitive in the new economy, CX must become the grounding function for all operational elements and lead decision-making. Furthermore, making CX an agile, continuously-improved, and measured function will make it accountable for delivering value and pushing growth. In our latest white paper, “Optimizing Your Customer Experience-Focused Organization: An Actionable Guide,” Gartner cites that 89% of your competitors are already part of the vast majority of companies who plan to compete primarily on CX by 2016. Especially in the oil and gas industry, now is the time to take a CX focus into the boardroom, into the C-suite, and throughout the organization at all levels.

DeGregorio_SebastianThis article was co-authored by Sebastian Degregorio. Sebastian is a Senior Consultant with North Highland. He has 9 of experience in marketing strategy and project management in Technology Products, Retail, Oil and Gas, and Non-profit  sectors. Specific areas of expertise include growth strategies, product management, customer experience, channel strategy, and program management.

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