Use the words customer portal and the average person thinks of a static unchanging system that is a gatekeeper that prevents them from accomplishing their needs. What most people don’t understand is many of the services they use on a daily basis are customer portals in everything but name.
Simply put, a customer portal is any system that provides your customers 24/7 access to do business with you. A website that allows your clients to shop-til-you-drop (drop to sleep!) or a lawn service company that lets customers schedule their next bush trimming while their waiting on the bus or even managing your IT infrastructure from anywhere.
Often a customer portal is simply the outward face of many systems running internally, such as an organization’s CRM, ERP, SaaS or support systems. While outward facing, the portal itself can have an immensely powerful impact on how your company and services are perceived. Let’s look at two different perspectives to understand some ways that we can grow the relationship between our business and our customers.
The Value of a Customer Portal?
Building a web portal for your customers or suppliers brings many benefits to both sides of the engagement. Let’s start with value for the customer.
#1 Enhanced Customer Experience
An empowered customer is a loyal customer. By extending your business to be always available, customers now have a level of control over the relationship with your business. At any time of day, they can log in to place an order, view it’s status, submit a support request, make an appointment, make a secure payment or interact with you in a myriad of other ways. Giving customers the ability to self service is a great way to enhance overall customer experience
In addition to customer value, web portals offer many important advantages to the business.
#2 Competitive Differentiation
When it comes to business value propositions, Product Leadership is an ongoing, and often uphill, battle. To win business in a mature market with heavy competition, it may be tempting to roll out “me too” products or lower prices to attract more throughput. Play a different game. Rise above your competitors by shifting where you’re competing. How often have people skipped out on a savings because they’d rather avoid doing business with someone. Be easy to do business with to charm your customers and outmaneuver your competition. As an extension of the convenience and personal empowerment you’ll build trust and loyalty for your brand which will increase future engagement.
#3 Revenue Gains
Web portal development contributes to the bottom line in several ways:
- Reduced labor for internal support staff. Customers can access product support, view and pay invoices, get real-time order status and schedule appointments via the portal.
- Additional order revenue. Through the web portal, customers can place orders even when your business is closed. Automatic reorders at scheduled intervals are also possible.
- Reduced DRO (Days Receivables Outstanding). From an accounting perspective, managing billing and payments via the customer portal results in faster revenue realization compared to paper mailings.
Customer Portal Example
Cloud Hosting Solutions Management Secure cloud hosting provider Whoa.com saw the need to differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace. Rather than lower prices to compete, they opted for a superior customer experience via a fully integrated web portal. The resulting “single pane of glass” management solution ties together a large number of resources including purchased services, real-time and historical usage, overall system health, support ticketing, billing, security threat detection and disaster recovery/business continuity services. Read about our work with Whoa.com.
Is a Web Portal Right for Your Business?
If happy customers, winning against competitor, or growing revenue are on your radar, a customer portal might be the perfect solution. Reach out to take the first step.