By Greg Paluska on Jun 11, 2018
Based in Texas, Greg Paluska leads the Eastern US Lubricants Technical Advisor team. With a decade of experience at Shell, Paluska provides coaching and support to 10 technical advisors who cover, he says: “every type of B2B customer you could imagine.”
This breadth of experience reflects the challenges that Shell’s Lubricants experts are up against every day. “There are varying degrees of needs or attitudes across sectors but even within sectors across customer groups. Some are pretty well advanced and others – they need a lot more support.”
That said, even with his more advanced clients, Paluska notes that “there’s always room for improvement”. Such improvement can range from simply getting good lubricant practices adopted across the organization to sit-down sessions with clients to discuss equipment innovation and how that impacts lubricant recommendations and needs.
One expert, 50 minds
Collaboration for Paluska is key. Engaging with Shell Lubricants technical experts should always be an opportunity for customers to explore new options, iron out challenges, and generally make use of the vast reservoir of information the experts have access to.
Beyond Paluska’s team of 10, there are a further 16 across the North American group alone. Through a single Expert, customers have access to a 50-strong global lubricant hive-mind, which includes coaches and product application specialists.
He takes a similar approach to developing the next generation of advisors. It’s vital that any transfer of knowledge isn’t just a data dump and then moving on to the next challenge. “I My role is to work with my team on various challenges and scenarios. I want to make our joint projects somewhere we can work together on a customer project or a site assessment.”
Navigating the web of information
Digitisation of customer information has presented an interesting challenge to Shell Experts in every field. Increasing education around lubrication has been a goal for many as it makes having conversations around total cost of ownership (TCO), premium lubricants for specific applications, and overall equipment health much easier.
But even for those working in these sectors, the information around equipment lubrication needs and best practice can be dense and complex. With the whole of the internet at their disposal and little guidance or editing, self-education is not always the most effective.
Finding a way to cut through the forest of information has been one of Paluska’s particular goals. This has led him to work on an internal Shell app development that can support some of the activities account managers and Technical Advisors do for customers on a daily basis. This has increased their efficiency and clarity of communication when it comes to procedures such as product recommendations and calculations. It’s an important cultural shift that Paluska has noticed resonates with his like-minded customer base.
“Many of our key customer stakeholders are becoming more and more of the younger generation and the whole idea of apps and Google is second nature to them. Everyone googles everything, including our customers. For Shell, being high on a search engine for gear oil is important. But customers also see their oil analysis report and don’t necessarily know how to read it or they may have a question so they go to Google before anything else. We need to have digital tools that answer this.”
Digitisation or not, the role of the Shell Lubricants Technical Advisor will remain pivotal to customer satisfaction now and in the future. Paluska explains this in the terms of a Planetary Gear Set. A Planetary Gear Set, which can be found commonly in automatic transmissions and even pencil sharpeners, is a very unique and powerful mechanism. It has a very synergistic design as it connects multiple gears of different forms. There is a sun gear at the center, planet gears surrounding the sun, and a ring gear holding it all together.
Using this idea of a planetary gear set, Shell also sees its work with customers functioning in a similar way. “At the centre of that gear is our expertise. Our technical advisors, account managers, product application specialists and so on, out in the field working with the customer. Then gear number one is our products. For 11 years running we have been the number one global lubricant supplier.
He continues ‘Gear number two is our services. Take Shell LubeAnalyst or LubeExpert which we apply to those products to make sure they’re optimized. The final gear is our projects – identifying a couple of key projects at the customer facility that is in line with their annual goals and coordinate and work on them together. The four nuggets at the centre of expertise, using products, service and projects drive the whole total cost of ownership and improved equipment reliability story.”
Partnerships with his customers are, for Paluska, the enduring heart of the Shell Lubricants Expert story.
We typically have great relationships with our customers. We like delivering solutions. We hate for there to be a problem but we also like there to be a resolution and we like to be a part of it.