Establishing contracts in the oilfield service business is hard – but it is retention of those clients that is the key to company success. What is the difference between service providers with a good reputation and those with an outstanding reputation? In this industry, it is often the difference in how service quality incidents are handled.
The Magic of Keeping Clients:
The magic of customer retention and maintaining a stellar service reputation is not about everything going right all the time. It’s how you manage the situation when things go wrong. Service companies are going to have incidents, some of which will require formal investigation for safety purposes. What is most important is how your company handles these investigations. Your responsiveness and transparency will have the biggest effect on your service reputation and the long-term retention of your most valuable clients. Serious incidents that entail formal investigation require that you bring your A game. You must disclose all your facts and lay transparency on the table as quickly as possible. Speed and accuracy are of the essence when it comes to maintaining the satisfaction and loyalty of your client.
In the past, our segment of the Oil and Gas industry was notorious for immediately firing any contractor involved in an incident. Rather than parse out cause and responsibility, old timers would just “run off” anyone involved. A few years ago, strong new regulations came into effect due to incidents like Macondo in the Gulf of Mexico. Now operators must educate themselves on those regulations and extend the same level of scrutiny to their third-parties. Circumstance require that all responsible parties are quick to act in the face of concern, make time, and show accountability to get to the root cause of incidents.
In most cases when an incident occurs, it is the client who calls you – and they’re already steaming mad. The client has been given incident information from the site (typically provided by the client’s people and usually a lengthy list of finger-pointing, issues and blame). Your service company is already behind the ball and in front of the trouble! Now you must scramble to reach your operations team and build your side of the story. Comparing your operation’s story versus the client’s version, you then begin to interpret what actually happened and how to fix it. In a best-case scenario, you’re engaging in a lengthy back and forth with the angry client. Depending on the client relationship and severity of the incident, it’s more likely that your crew is already packing and heading back home.
Now, consider this small but fundamental difference: You’ve been personally alerted to the incident by your own data. You’ve pre-emptively reached out to your operations crew and created a workable fix. In this version, YOU called the client first – before they were even aware of a problem – and presented an explanation and solution. You’ve gained an enormous advantage and saved the day! Being “run-off” is not an option for business that provide services to operators. Service companies who are utilizing newly available tools and real-time data to reduce incident potential are quickly overtaking their competitors. Being “run off” by a client in a downturn like we are currently in could be life-threatening for any business.
Repeat business is the name of the game:
According to sales management cycles, it is far easier to keep a client than to invest the effort and expense in procuring a new one.
Knowledge is Power:
For oilfield service providers, the fundamental difference between good and outstanding is the ability to immediately know when an incident has occurred and taking the initiative to reach out to the client. You should be able to instantly present all the information available – including the cause and suggested corrective action – with complete accuracy and transparency. Having the ability to proactively reach out to your client first with a solution rather than just a problem, gives you an incredible competitive edge over the competition.
In my bed, resting in the comfort that only a double ended ATCO trailer can afford, I had fallen asleep to the gentle hum and vibration cycles of the rig as we drilled ahead. Suddenly, something was different and it jarred me wide awake. It was still 22 minutes before my alarm, but the rhythmic pattern of the rig had changed from a steady hum to a stressed, high thrumming. I could hear the draw works ramping up and down as the driller varied the bit weight. Something was not right.
I quickly slid into my coveralls, laced up my boots and grabbed my hat, glasses and gloves. The cold hit me like a knife while fogging up my glasses, reminding me that I should have put on my long underwear. It must be -40° out there, but I hardly noticed as I came down the trailer stairs and cut a new set of tracks in the freshly fallen snow. I headed up the stairs to the dog house.
“Rat!” I yelled at the driller, who was looking slightly confused and worried as I walked in. “What’s going on?” “I am not exactly sure,” he replied. “It seems like we hit a bridge, but there is not supposed to be anything like this in this zone. It should be okay, but I’m working to get through it.”
Something was not adding up, and I was nervous. Then suddenly I could see the drill pipe drop 6” into the hole and the torque indicator spiked. We were stuck. The driller was running through standard attempts to get un-stuck without success. This was a very strange incident and my internal radar said something was very, very wrong. I turned around and walked to the back of the doghouse, trying to clear my head and figure out what was going on. I used the back of my glove to scrape a hole in the frost so I could see. The sky was just starting to lighten on the horizon. Directly behind the rig I could see a geyser of steaming fluid shooting into the air! This was most unusual and it took me a few seconds to understand what I was seeing. We were drilling the intermediate section, no pressure zone. Think, damn it! Think…
“Rat, can you cut the pump?” I asked. “Yes, sir!” The geyser quickly shrank and then disappeared. “Okay. Can you turn it back on for a second?” The geyser quickly leapt back to life. “Well, hell. I guess I better go wake up the company man,” I sighed. If you want to find out how this story ends, contact us about – “Don’t Get Run Off”.
About the Author:
Michael Szafron has held Management and Executive positions in the Oil and Gas, Medical, Information Technology and Retail fields. Michael has grown companies and operating divisions globally, having done business in multiple industries in more than 30 countries and counting. Szafron has just finished setting up the US-based Energy Division of an Israeli company that would like to bring their MRI and NMR products into the oilfield and refining sectors. Most recently joined Perfect Consulting Group™ as COO. Perfect Consulting Group™ is a market leading organization that provides More Than Advice™ to its clients. Accelerating and growing business with real deliverables.
About the Company:
PERFECT CONSULTING GROUP – Delivering More than just Advice PERFECT CONSULTING GROUP was founded with a pure objective of being a company that specializes in accelerating your business and delivering bottom line results. In a world of technology where business consultancy is a norm which could ultimately help your business to flourish and thrive, Perfect Consulting Group is the venue to approach. It is our experience that targeted campaigns will produce hundreds of direct sales opportunities. The creation of a comprehensive point of sale professional toolkit will be necessary to capitalize on the market inertia that is generated. Additionally implementation resources and planning are essential so that new sales bookings can quickly, efficiently and professionally be translated into installations and revenue. Our PERFECT CONSULTING GROUP is comprised of professionals with a wide range of specialized industry experience in multiple disciplines, from business development, marketing, sales, corporate development, manufacturing, HR, legal and supply chain. In addition we have extensive experience in the up and downstream Oil and Gas, Medical and Information Technology fields. Our perfect way to win together is to bring our clients closer and study with them their pricing philosophy. At Our Perfect Consulting Group our price and services interaction provide a perfect win-win situation. Just ask us about it!
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