The last few months have presented us all with an unpredictable situation. We would like to not only look at the challenges that have come along with COVID-19, but also to highlight that the current situation also offers us opportunities to take new paths, or even accelerate plans. Our partner Shell is ready to #StartTheRestart optimistically as Hans Joerg Einfalt, Head of International Key Account Management at Shell Fleet Solutions Europe, told us in our interview.
Hans-Joerg, how do you and your colleagues experience the current situation across Europe?
I've been working for Shell for 25 years now and with a lot of passion. But I’ve never experienced anything like the current situation. It’s challenging but also interesting as there’s more than ever a demand for new solutions. Shell has a very long and innovative business relationship with Alphabet. Together we want to actively offer individual options to all our customers, so that at the end of the day the customer can decide which solution they want.
The crisis has challenged us to go new ways. But it also gave us the opportunity to further deepen the relationship to our customers and to accompany them through the energy turnaround/transmission phase. We can advise them and develop long-term sustainable concepts that are a win-win-situation for both sides. For this effort we need the best employees but also partners like Alphabet who are pursuing the same sustainability goals in the long term and actively promote them. In any case, we are convinced that we are able to adapt to the situation and are looking forward to offer our customers a large product diversification of "future fuels".
As a partner of Alphabet you provide corporate fleet customers the right solution with the Shell fuel card. How has COVID-19 changed business and customer behaviour?
Well, many company car owners have had less need for fuelling as they’ve worked remotely. Thus, they switched to only filling up their company car every other week instead of weekly. In all countries we had a volume loss of up to 30% in the first three months – but we’ve seen a recovery already in July and we hope that we will reach the level we had before the crisis by the end of the year – provided that no strong second wave hits us in autumn, but of course, yes, our Shell fuel card is the best solution for all fuels (including future fuels and EV-charging, too).
And in addition, our customers prefer of course more and more contactless payment. Therefore, a big advantage for business customers during these times is our mobile fuel payment service “Shell Pay at Pump”. You can pay for fuel through your smart phone quickly and easily from inside your car, actually offered in some selected test countries with the goal to roll it out on a wider scale in the next 6 to 12 months. It works as part of the Shell App and thus offers contactless smart fuelling at Shell petrol stations. Moreover, I believe that depending on age, gender, place of residence and the overall life situation our customers will choose different mobility concepts now.
What precautions have been taken in your nationwide network and are there regional differences? Has a special hygiene concept been developed by Shell?
Yes of course, one of our most important company pillars is HSSE. H for Health, S for Safety, S for Security, and E for Environment. We can surely say we go a step further in taking care and responsibility! It doesn’t matter if employees at the petrol stations, in the offices, or on the oil platform: we are all trained on COVID-19. Especially in the customer area (e.g. shop, fast food restaurant, cash zone, petrol pump) it plays a decisive role how we behave towards, how we protect the customers as well as our employees. Additionally, we have weekly COVID-19 HSSE calls, where we learn from the other countries and departments and actively exchange ideas.
Moreover, we started a global program, where we provided doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and other professionals that actively help us during the pandemic with free drinks, coffee and sandwiches at the Shell petrol stations.
What are the advantages of an international network and which regional differences do you see?
We try out future fuels, like LNG, hydrogen or EV charging in one country, gain experiences here and can then scale quickly also to other countries. That is probably one of the biggest advantages we have as Shell Group due to our globality. This allows us to guarantee premium quality and high customer satisfaction at any time. In addition, we are always looking to expand our network and are constantly looking for partner networks – for all future and existing fuels.
Do you believe that mobility will now take on a different meaning for customers and what do you think are the mobility services of the future?
I think that in the next years mobility in general as well as fuelling related services will be more and more determined by the customers and their demands. And as we see, there are already changes not only due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Our customers more often ask for sustainable, emission free and friendly solutions. Therefore, Shell is very active in becoming an energy partner that provides innovative and sustainable concepts now and in the future. Especially offers for electric energy, hydrogen and BIO-LNG as well as biofuels will all play an important role.
With our quick charging stations SHELL RECHARGE for example we have just launched an offer where an electric car can be charged in about 20 minutes. Our goal is to set up a global network of these rapid charging stations in the next few years. As a first step, we equip selected motorway stations in Europe with this offer, but certainly more to come soon. The first stations we have opened are already very well received by our electrified customers.
By this offer, we would like to actively support partners like Alphabet on the market. Our credo is to avoid and reduce CO2 where possible. But we also offer a CO2 off-set program in case there is still CO2 left at the customer's side that cannot be avoided or reduced.
Thank you for your time, the insightful interview and sharing your optimistic thoughts with us, Hans-Joerg!