A contact form or a live chat can take care of specific inquiries and support requests. However, that’s likely not good enough if you intend to offer ongoing customer service. In today’s world, customer portals are becoming more of a requirement than a nice-to-have feature. According to a recent survey by Statista, 88% of customers stated that they expect a company to provide for one. Luckily for you, this article will help you learn how to build a customer portal. You can also see differences between custom-built and off-the-shelf solutions.
What Is a Customer Portal?
A customer portal is a software interface that provides customers with accessible information regarding their interactions with your company. They can track support requests, key metrics, or essential reference documents.
Customer portals may come in various forms, depending on your needs. It can be a patient portal to schedule doctor’s appointments, an online banking portal to pay bills, or even a student and faculty portal to download homework assignments.
Why Build a Customer Portal?
The primary purpose of building a customer portal is to provide extra value to your customers. A useful customer portal will save your business time and money by automating processes, such as scheduling, billing, or online payments. It will also improve the quality of interaction between your brand and customers. It does so by offering more responsive communication, easier access to information, and a more convenient way to interact with your brand.
Customers can track and manage their support requests. This reassures them that their concerns are being heard and addressed. Portals can also come in handy when monitoring customers’ interactions. You can highlight repeating issues or identify a new need.
However, it’s important to mention that a customer portal has the opposite effect when it doesn’t meet your clients’ needs. It wastes your company’s time and money and can lead to frustration among your customer base.
Building a Customer Portal
You should pay attention to certain aspects if you choose to build a custom customer portal for your business. That is why we’ve made this brief guide to help you ensure the best possible results with the least amount of risk.
Choose the Necessary Tools
You might want to link your portal to some typical applications or data repositories, such as:
- Customer relationship management (CRM). A vital piece for well-built customer service is the ability to open or check the status of queries. With a CRM customer portal, you can give customers access to specific modules associated with CRM records. Some of them include Account, Contact, Notes, etc. It means your clients will be able to edit their info on the portal. This ultimately helps sales reps and customer service agents to keep the information in CRM up-to-date and valid.
- Online community. A discussion forum or an online community is common in today’s consumer and enterprise technology companies. It allows customers to ask questions and add remarks to other conversation threads.
- Knowledge management. Another significant part of self-service is access to the online knowledge base. Most of these vendors sell multi-channel and self-service tools. They also provide a customer landing page.
Analyze Current Processes
Before making a plan with your development team, you should analyze your current software for interacting with customers. The key is to pinpoint the functions and features you need from a customer portal.
This step will help you in choosing the right technical approach to developing. You can rest assured it meets your customer portal’s needs and integrates well with other software that you use.
Make It Easy to Use
Don’t refrain from thinking outside the box when it comes to customer portals. In addition to allowing the customer service infrastructure to scale, it should help drive new business growth.
However, it would be best if you made sure the customer portal is easily accessible. It will be ideal if it’s only one click away from your landing page. A customer shouldn’t have to browse through your website for hours to find different information. They probably won’t bother and will end up emailing you instead.
The Difference Between Custom-Built and off-the-Shelf Solutions
A pre-built customer portal is the right solution for those who are already familiar with a standard set of operations, such as online banking or invoice tracking. If these services are not new to your industry, then there is likely an off-the-shelf product that will meet your current business needs.
A custom solution is the way to go for those who wish to attain a genuinely unique customer portal entirely tailored to their customer needs. Are you in need of a vast improvement in customer experience? If so, creating a custom portal with innovative features could be the game-changer that points your business in the right direction.
Sharing and collecting data is a crucial part of every customer workflow. Our advice is to invest in an appropriate customer portal, so your customers can log in, access, and manage their data. It will bring your company:
- Better data management: Customers can update and manage their data.
- Improved quality of interaction between brands and customers: It allows for responsive communication and easier access to information.
- Better automated workflows: You can integrate your customers.
- Time and money savings: A customer portal is affordable and easy to use.
If you decide to build your customer portal, be sure to choose the necessary tools and analyze your current processes. The final product should be easy-to-use in order to gain a better customer experience.
Your decision to learn how to build a customer portal should come from a desire to improve the customer experience. Having a customer portal may help you serve your customers better. But, before investing in a custom-built or off-the-shelf customer portal solution, determine whether it’s the right call. It has to fit in with your business goals, projected growth, and budget.