Shell Chemicals

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Shell Chemicals powers giant leap in customer satisfaction

The ancient Chinese principle of Yin and Yang probably isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when it comes to petrochemicals. But the concept of how, in nature, apparently opposing forces can in fact be interconnected parts of a single system – or two sides of the same coin – is reflected time and again at the trailblazer Shell Chemicals.  

This applies to everything from parent Royal Dutch Shell’s sustainability roadmap – which is guiding the company towards net zero emissions in step with its economic, social and environmental imperatives – to Shell Chemicals’ use of waste from industrial processes to create raw materials and chemicals that bring real value for society. 

“For me, our inputs – the people, processes and platforms we put in place in our organization – and business performance are like Yin and Yang; you just can't have one without the other,” said Martijn van Noordennen, Global Manager for Commercial Excellence at Shell Chemicals. 

“Ultimately, we’re in the business of serving our customers. We need to be proactive and responsive. We need to understand and anticipate their needs. Our customer satisfaction is now at an all-time high because we have built a platform that allows us to collaborate with and around our customers. This is where Salesforce comes in.” 

Salesforce powers Shell’s Chemical Customer Curiosity Cloud

Salesforce provides the foundations on which Shell Chemicals is building its Chemicals Customer Curiosity Cloud (also known as 4C or Foresee, a play on the acronym). The platform is helping the company revolutionize its customer service, sales and technical support functions in order to achieve its long-term goals. 

If you’re curious about the name, van Noordennen can explain. “Curiosity never goes out of fashion,” he said. “In a commercial context, curiosity wins customer satisfaction. If you truly understand who your customer is, the problems they’re trying to solve and why they came to you, ultimately you’ll be able to give them what they need.” 


Curiosity never goes out of fashion. In a commercial context, curiosity wins customer satisfaction. If you truly understand who your customer is, the problems they’re trying to solve and why they came to you, ultimately you’ll be able to give them what they need.”

- Martijn van Noordennen | Global Manager for Customer Experience & Operational Excellence, Shell Chemicals

Experience Cloud allows Shell to offer ‘unrivalled customer experience’

This journey began back in 2004, when Shell Chemicals became one of the first players in the industry to develop an eCommerce portal. A decade later, when the time came to update the technology powering the portal, the business went to tender. Salesforce provided a full mockup, allowing the company to actually see what the platform would look like once implemented. 

“I was hooked from there on in,” recalled van Noordennen. “We were buying a customer portal built on Experience Cloud, and that's how it started, but I could immediately see that it could become so much more than that once connected to a CRM system. Then we could really start to collaborate with and around the customer.” 

The portal went live in 2017 to help the business realize its bold ambition of providing an ‘unrivalled customer experience’. “I often described the customer portal to my colleagues as a virtual shop window,” said van Noordennen. “Customers can come in, order products, find their invoices and so on. Then I said we’re going to put in an office building next door, knock down the interior wall and create one seamless platform.” 

Sales Cloud nurtures leads with cross pollination of information

Sales Cloud became the central repository of customer data to facilitate intelligent sales processes across the business’s global operations. The system gives full visibility of the customer journey and logs all contacts with them. This allows opportunities to be nurtured more effectively, empowering salespeople to be both proactive and reactive, while anticipating future customer needs. 

“Previously, you could have two colleagues sitting opposite each other in one of our offices but completely unaware that they’re talking to the same customers,” explained van Noordennen. “Today, if they look up a customer in Salesforce, they’ll immediately see what’s happening with that customer and, crucially, what their colleagues are doing with them, whether they’re in Houston, Rotterdam, London, Singapore, or wherever.” 

Easy-to-read dashboards deliver huge efficiency savings

All this is displayed on Salesforce in easy-to-read dashboards, saving time previously spent drawing up reports. “We can connect the dots more efficiently and deliver something that's actually greater than the sum of its parts,” said van Noordennen. 

“We store all sorts of intricate detail on these dashboards, from orders and invoices through to the size of a coupling that a driver might need when they get on site. The entire journey is managed more efficiently without having our customer relationship coordinators spending the first two hours of their day compiling reports and deciding what to do first. Everything they need is there, in a single colour-coded dashboard.” 

Einstein ensures customer information remains in the business

Shell Chemicals is harnessing the power of AI with the adoption of Einstein Analytics (now Tableau CRM). By pooling all information gathered in sales meetings—and using intelligent search functions—people can unlock a much clearer view of their customers and how their needs are developing. 

“All that information is locked in and kept for posterity,” van Noordennen continued. “We need to reinvent our industry and, of course, decarbonisation and sustainability are huge opportunities . So if a customer has expressed an interest in a green technology or whatever, we can use Einstein Search to spot these opportunities and drive value. Our talent rotates every three to four years; Salesforce ensures that information does not leave when our people take on new roles.” 

Case closure times halved since the adoption of Service Cloud

Service Cloud is bringing even greater clarity to the company’s customer view. Every contact a customer makes with the business, be it a query about an order or a complaint, is logged, so Customer Relationship Coordinators can tap into a huge depth of information to address issues as and when they arise. Since the rollout of Service Cloud, the number of cases logged has tripled, while the time to resolution has more than halved. 

“The number of cases has gone up because it's easier for customers to interact with us and we can address problems far more quickly, which has driven the case closure time down significantly and boosted our customer satisfaction index which is now close to nine on a scale of 10,” said van Noordennen. 

Salesforce Knowledge facilitates instant information sharing

It’s not stopping there. Shell Chemicals is in the process of looping in its manufacturing and technical support personnel to Service Cloud to allow site visits to be scheduled through the platform. The company is also using Salesforce Knowledge, which will facilitate the instant sharing of information via the customer portal. 

“This will be hugely powerful,” said van Noordennen. “The search functionality has AI behind it so as soon as you start typing your question it will suggest helpful results. The feature I really love is the tick box that allows results to also be shared via the customer portal. Say you’re a customer, it’s 5pm on a Friday,  you have a delivery coming in the next morning and you need to download a certificate of analysis for your colleagues in production. As a customer, you now have access to a knowledge article that shows you how to do it via the portal – without having to call anyone -  because the whole back end is automated. Problem solved.” 

The business is also using Marketing Cloud to great effect, added van Noordennen. “The brilliance of marketing automation is that you can see how people are engaging with your content,” he said. “We’re able to use Marketing Cloud to nurture our leads up to a point where they’re warm enough—where the customers themselves say they’d like to talk to someone. It’s adding millions to our sales funnel.”

Shell Chemicals’ Salesforce platform continues to evolve

All this is just the beginning. The different elements of the Chemicals Customer Curiosity Cloud are tied together with their ERP system and a variety of other planning and operations systems through MuleSoft, and the platform continues to evolve as users suggest new functions and improvements, which are actioned by a dedicated team of around 30 people at Shell Chemicals’ Bangalore Centre of Excellence. 

“It’s constantly evolving,” said van Noordennen. “Another feature that we have added in is the Ideas Generator, which means that if a certain functionality is not to a user’s liking or if they have an idea, they can click on a button and share it with our development team. Colleagues can then vote for any new functionalities that are suggested.” 

The platform’s users and making life easier for them are always front of mind for the team in Bangalore. They’re clearly hitting their mark. The Chemicals Customer Curiosity Cloud boasts a 97% log-in rate; 88% of users are logging in at least once a week and 55% use it daily. And a whopping ninety five percent of users agree that the platform supports their daily activities. 

Ensuring this sort of user-centricity is as important as being customer centric, said van Noordennen. “User-centricity is one of the core design principles of this platform,” he concluded. “As much as our business revolves around our customers, if the work is going to get done and get done well, our platform needs to also revolve around our users. Again, they are like two sides of the same coin. It’s Yin and Yang.” 


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