The oil and gas sector is a potentially very profitable one – in the UK, despite the fact that supplies have fallen in some places, it is still worth a great deal to the economy and could be extremely lucrative for the companies involved in extraction, sales and so on.

Retired businessman Sir Ian Wood recently completed his government-commissioned report on the industry, with the coalition now keen to fast-track many of his proposals as it attempts to effectively support the economy.

42 billion barrels of oil and gas have already been produced from the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) – however, some 12 to 24 billion more could still be generated, meaning it is vital that the sector is given the chance to perform well in the near future.

The near-term prospects for the UKCS are strong, but it is facing an extremely different environment than it did ten or 15 years ago when production was at its peak, Sir Ian explained.

But what has all this got to do with CRM? Well, many upstream oil and gas firms rely heavily on this kind of technology in order to manage their relationships with customers and keep track of their information effectively, a process that could become even more important as the market in the UK becomes squeezed.

For firms in the oil and gas service industry keen to upscale their forecasting models or develop their customer management abilities, investing in software such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM could be a good idea, particularly in the build-up to the various changes put forward by Sir Ian.

Here are some of the ways that investing in CRM can help upstream oil and gas businesses fulfill their roles.

Providing a strong customer view

This isn’t necessarily an industry specific benefit, as it is generally considered the core benefit of installing a CRM system whatever sector you are working in. However, the complexities of the deals involved in utilities sales and other common occurrences in the energy world mean it can be especially helpful here.

A well-integrated piece of CRM software can make detailed notes, document attachments, communications, open quotes, pending orders, well status, production volume, service contracts, services issues and more available to workers across an organisation.

Keeping all this data in one place can have major benefits – it makes the sales and marketing process more efficient, but it also means it is less likely that a piece of vital knowledge will get lost in a (figurative) pipeline, saving the time that can often be spent attempting to gather all the information about a specific transaction.

It also makes it easier for business intelligence experts and other analysts to gain a picture of how customers are behaving, which can be extremely helpful in the relatively volatile and fluctuating world of oil and gas.

Real-time integration of industry data

As CRM software gets more sophisticated and powerful, it can provide firms with real-time integration of data – again, given the fast-moving nature of the energy market and the fact that the UK’s natural resources are no longer at their peak production level, this could prove extremely useful.

Many firms offer an oil and gas sector-specific form of CRM that can access all leading industry databases in order to provide decision-makers with the information they need. This can also be a good way to generate leads.

Track competitors

Oil and gas, as mentioned above, is a competitive sector. By using CRM to keep track of how rival firms are doing, a company would be able to plan its next move with the necessary context.

Dynamic, high-tech mapping

Again, by using industry databases, firms can create a representative model showing well permits and well production status, among other important pieces of information.

Customer service improvements

Firms will be able to assign, manage, and resolve support incidents by using a CRM database. By providing historic information about customer interaction, it will make it easier to form strong relationships and engage with buyers.

Basically, it will streamline the process of linking up with customers, as it can do for any B2B or B2C industry.

Sir Ian “estimates that full and rapid implementation [of his plans] will deliver at least 3 to 4 billion more barrels of oil than would otherwise be recovered over the next 20 years, bringing over £200 billion additional value to the UK economy”.

If this is the case, there are still plenty of profits to be made by firms that are canny enough to deal with the ways in which the market is going to change.