Publication Details

This case study was originally published as Michael, K, Integrating Islands of Information Through CRM, in Lawrence, E, Lawrence, J, Newton, S, Dann, S, Corbitt, B & Thanasankit, T (eds), Internet Commerce: Digital Models for Business, John Wiley & Sons, Australia, 2003, pp. 176-179.


It was not so long ago that one would pull up into a service station and be greeted by an attendant who would customarily ask whether or not to fill up the car with petrol. Of course, today things have changed. Petrol station attendants have been replaced by something called 'self-service'. The customer is empowered and has the responsibility to fill up their own car with as much petrol as they want. A little extra effort perhaps but no one seems to mind, apart from the countless number of people who lost their jobs as attendants. What is noticeable, however, is the human contact between the attendant and the driver which has been forgone. The local service station is no longer where people will get a chance to talk to Jack, but merely fill up their car with petrol to make sure they can reach their destination. To this end, driver loyalty has diminished; people will fill up their car with petrol at any service station convenient to them. The traditional customer care that has disappeared along with the role of the petrol station attendant has had to be replaced by a new relationship based on loyalty card schemes and the like. The key message here is how to engage existing and potential customers and how to retain them, given that the new relationship is managed on new terms of interaction. One can almost hear customers saying 'if you want me to fill up my car here every week, you must give me something in return that I value or a good enough reason not to look elsewhere'.