Connected customer experience in the B2B domain

Image courtesy of Untung Bekti Nugroho

Malaysian oil and gas giant PETRONAS used a custom e-service portal that seeks to provide a connected customer experience for dealers, gas stations, and partners. 

PETRONAS Dagangan Berhad (PDB) is Malaysia-based retailer and marketer of downstream oil and gas products. PDB’s business ranges from retail – which are the PETRONAS stations seen everywhere in Malaysia – to commercial fleets, as well as door-to-door delivery of products. Besides reaching out to end customers of its retail business, PDB also has dealers and partners for different businesses that drive business.

In a media briefing session at a Salesforce event, Kelly Hoong, Head of Customer Resolutions at PDB, talked about the ecosystem challenges they faced, developing the portal on the Salesforce platform, the impact of its rollout, and more.

Since you deal with multiple stakeholders in business, what are some of the challenges you face in your broader business-to-business-to-consumer ecosystem?

As we move towards the future, the demand and needs of general public end users are leaning towards contactless payment and transactions, and everything online as well – like portals – at a very high speed that very few could actually foresee until the pandemic hit us.

This was when everyone suddenly turned to online platforms, apps, and everything digital. We had to deal with challenges like any other business, to gain a competitive advantage via digital transformation, and reach for the maximum value for our customers, dealers, and partners.

Your team created the e-service portal last year to better engage with petrol stations and business-to-business (B2B) customers across Malaysia. What were some of the key objectives and services you designed in this portal?

We wanted to make sure that everything is online for our dealers and partners, anywhere and anytime. So we provided them with end-to-end updates and resolutions.

You can make a few orders and you’re able to check the delivery status, which is a simple one-page ordering process that includes checking the status of the delivery from the terminal, all the way to customers. Other details include when the order arrives, and when customers get their invoices, billings, delivery notes from the past up until the present, and if they make any future orders. It’s all there and available in one page. This was one of the main objectives.

We wanted to ensure that our distributors enter their stock on a daily basis, moving everything online, so that they don’t have to manually manage things. Based on the trending of their daily stock-take, we are able to predict what volume to deliver the next day or week. Hence, this actually makes it seamless for us instead of having them figure it out. “How much do I have to order for tomorrow or the next day?” All we have to do is enter their sales volume and that’s it.

We predict how much is trending and we send it to them. It’s automated. In case of equipment and maintenance resolutions, for example if a certain equipment broke down, they are able to create a case for specific breakdowns and they get their notification via the Salesforce app and we assign our on-ground technicians all the way to them.

They are able to track the service level in terms of short hours and the breakdown period. We actually manage to save money and costs by converting this online and it’s automated. The portal was also meant to provide announcements from PETRONAS to all the users.

The e-service portal enables us to reach them as quickly as possible so that client requirements – or anything they want to implement – is as easy as making a few clicks on the screen. We engaged Salesforce Professional Services, which helped us customise the portal for all our users.

Why did you choose to build the dealer platform on the Salesforce platform? What was the development process like?

It’s with an aim to provide ease of access anytime, anywhere. That’s the main aim for our dealers and partners, and of course our commercial customers. To be able to generate a single source of information from one platform – including communications, financials, stock, and maintenance tracking between dealers and PETRONAS.

Every single notification is available and we are able to see and track it down to the second. We were unable to perform all of this on previous platforms. But Salesforce has been really helpful to us, as this platform meets our overall needs.

Was it difficult getting the adoption by the franchisee gas stations? How did you enable them to use the portal?

Since we have been dealing with the pandemic, we know that ease of access is what people want in running their daily businesses. So, the ease of communication to work on their daily operations is important. This is the only thing they have to use and it’s all on cloud too, so it’s easy.

We customised the login to the homepage for each profile, like for dealers and for some of our B2B customers. We know what they want to see based on their profile and logins, so we built it into the customisation. We make it easy and provide timely information. The portal actually helps them avoid wasting resources, as it minimises their carbon footprint by switching to digital. This helps them avoid using up all these papers and so on, and seamlessly mobilising their tankers for deliveries. 

We also focused on closing the feedback loop. If there are any complaints, we want to address it for our customers, knowing we are on it for them, and our stations or the dealers are doing their best to make sure that the complaints are all settled. 

What are the key business results that you have seen to date after rolling out the portal?

Internally, we deployed the Salesforce Service Cloud in our own contact centre and extended it as an e-service to our external users, which are our dealers and partners. So, internally we have actually increased our first contact resolutions by 10% after just four months of implementation.

We have simplified many processes with this platform. In terms of resolutions, we have achieved 94% of our service levels, compared to the 76% that we had previously. This is all enabled by real-time data to chase and follow up with the technicians on the ground on a more timely basis.

In terms of dealers and partners, there is less downtime. We have a record of 500 hours of downtime previously, and now it’s less than two hours since we implemented it. There are also savings from increased productivity. There are fewer manual entries, and faster handling of cases. Notifications are immediately reflected, leading dealers to get more updates.

The delivery notes can be generated and printed immediately as it appears. Resources are optimised and more efficient. In essence, I will say it provides more visibility and empowerment for our dealers and partners.

Lastly, how did the global pandemic impact your dealers’ needs? Are you planning on leveraging the portal in any new ways?

We continue to innovate and add more creativity to our dealers’ portal. As this platform has already met the basic needs of our dealers and partners, there has been continuous feedback that we receive from them.

The best part about their feedback is getting their creative ideas for more enhancements to be added, which eases their day-to-day operations. We are also doing our best to make it a reality for them. We will continue with more enhancements.

Fewer opportunities for face-to-face communication meant that the portal was also a platform to expand the functionalities for our B2B and B2C customers, like having a customised app to order your cooking gas and get it delivered to your doorstep.