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HOME NRI JOURNAL Creating New Experiences at Service Stations by Using Digital Technologies: Showa Shell Sekiyu’s "Shell CONNECT"


Innovation magazine that generates hints for the future


Creating New Experiences at Service Stations by Using Digital Technologies: Showa Shell Sekiyu’s "Shell CONNECT"

Yuichiro Omura, Head of Marketing Department (in charge of new projects), Showa Shell Sekiyu
Hayato Murase, Senior Director, Brierley+Partners Japan
Yusuke Akamatsu, Deputy-Chief Consultant, Systems Design Consulting Department, Nomura Research Institute


#Customer relation

Apr. 24, 2019

Showa Shell Sekiyu's "Shell CONNECT" enables timely service meeting customers’ needs by aggregating and analyzing the service usage of each customer. We spoke to the representatives of Showa Shell Sekiyu, Nomura Research Institute (NRI), and Brierley+Partners Japan (Brierley Japan), who are trying to build new relationships of trust between customers and service stations (SS) by using digital technologies.

Creating a customer experience that prompts the customer to visit the service stations again

Until now, SS have been building relationships with their customers by acquiring members through credit cards and point cards. However, the POS data only provides the record of purchases and not that of communications with customers. This has limited the ability to create mid-to-long term trust relationships. Recent reductions in SS have caused tens of thousands of customers to visit a store in a year, making it difficult for staff to remember the name and face of each customer and provide optimal service.
In order to solve these problems, we decided to develop a new digital marketing infrastructure that collects and analyzes purchase, customer service, and vehicle maintenance data and communicates in a timely manner through smartphone apps and store service tablets. The aim was to establish a trust relationship with customers by strengthening the services of Showa Shell SS throughout the customer journey, i.e., before, during, and after their store visit.
In this way, Shell CONNECT came into existence.

Changing mindsets instead of creating systems

NRI's Systems Consulting team provided complete support in implementing business IT for Shell CONNECT from planning to deployment while keeping profitability in mind. Further, Brierley Japan of the NRI Group, which specializes in CRM and loyalty marketing, contributed to the implementation of one-to-one communication with the customers before, during, and after their visit. They provided support such as designing CRM scenarios and deploying them at the dealers’ agency or service stations, implementing PDCA, and promoting the system within and outside the organization.

"It was a new initiative to differentiate our customer experiences, i.e., customer service and communication, for gasoline products, which tend to become commoditized and price-competitive. Rather than just creating systems, we needed people from various layers such as SS, dealers, Showa Shell's branch offices, and headquarters to understand the significance of Shell CONNECT and change their attitudes. In order to address the issues that were difficult to resolve through discussions alone, NRI and Brierley Japan provided specialized support incorporating the operational perspective." recalls Yuichiro Omura of Showa Shell Sekiyu who led the project.

Realizing high-quality customer service through proper communication with customers

When a customer visits the store and checks in using the smartphone app "Shell Pass", his or her information is displayed on the tablet "ConnecPad" in the SS.

"We were always grateful to the SS staff, who became the anchor for providing customer experience value in planning services. Members of Showa Shell including Mr. Omura along with development vendors identified the required information and interface so that the busy staff can understand the optimal approach just by looking at the screen for an instant”, says Yusuke Akamatsu of NRI.

"In developing Shell CONNECT, in addition to the theoretical approaches to CRM and creation of loyal customers, we designed detailed communication scenarios through data analysis. The idea of retaining customers based on data was new to SS and dealer staff, but the key point was how they could incorporate it at the site. For this, we created convincing indicators backed by a good track record and communicated them persuasively. We managed to smoothly explain things that would not be understood by theory alone," recalls Hayato Murase of Brierley Japan.

Talking about the changes he felt after the new system was introduced, Omura says, "In addition to their system and marketing expertise, they provided us all possible support whenever we faced an unexpected situation. The SS that actually introduced Shell CONNECT, for instance, offers timely reminders to customers in need of oil replacement for their vehicles and recommends air pressure check to customers who do not use the service much. This allows them to provide optimal service to each customer."

The real value of Shell CONNECT is yet to be demonstrated

Murase says, "At present, all the phases from planning to introduction have been completed. In order to ensure that the newly-created reforms continue, it is important to put them in a framework. We will continue to actively support the development of Shell CONNECT in the future."
"This initiative is a springboard for digital transformation. We will do our best to demonstrate the true value of Shell CONNECT," hopes Akamatsu.
Omura says, “After the launch of Shell CONNECT, changes have begun to take place within Showa Shell as well as dealers and SS. For instance, they are forming a new organizational structure in response to digitalization, and are exploring what new can be done for the customers.” Outlining his outlook for the future, he further says, “Our next goal is to extend these developments to the entire value chain of Showa Shell Sekiyu.”

Front row, from left to right : Showa Shell Sekiyu’s Mori, Omura, and Okamura; Back row, from left right : NRI’s Akamatsu and Brierley Japan’s Murase

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