What is a Customer Portal and Why Is It Important?

09 Oct 2019

    Tags

  • Customer Support

In today’s connected world, customer portals are becoming more of a requirement than a nice-to-have feature for many organizations. In a recent survey by Statista, 88% of respondents indicated that they expect a company or brand to provide an online customer service portal. It is truly becoming an age of ‘self-service,’ and how your company navigates this market demand can mean the difference between satisfied customers or missed expectations.

The use of customer service portals has developed rapidly in recent years, and there is a much greater level of interaction. Past systems only allowed customers to perform very simple tasks such as accessing documents, but today’s portals allow users to interact directly with a company's customer support processes. Rather than making a call to a customer support specialist, a customer can enter their own requests, track them, and access a knowledge base of past requests and updated documentation.

It’s an exciting time for developing these services and in this post, we’ll cover exactly what a customer portal is, how they are typically used, and ways in which your company can benefit from rolling out a customer portal software solution.

A Definition of a Customer Portal

A customer portal is a software interface that gives customers complete visibility into their interactions with your company. They can track key metrics, support requests, or other information such as reference documents that can be easily shared. It helps to strengthen the customer relationship and provides a transparent, secure and open forum for collaboration.

One of the great benefits of having a customer portal is that you can tailor the content to the information relevant to each customer. Some common uses of a customer portal include activities such as:

  • Creating and tracking support tickets
  • Distributing policies and documents
  • Managing purchase orders and tracking order deliveries
  • Looking up quotes and invoices
  • Sharing detailed FAQ information

Access to a customer portal helps to bring customers deeper into your ecosystem and plays an important role in helping to retain them in the long term. As technology continues to develop and our lives become more connected, consumers have a growing desire for self-service. In fact, surveys have found that 70% of customers expect self-service applications on a company’s website. When a customer feels like they have convenient access to important information and can resolve issues in a timely and transparent manner, they are far less likely to go elsewhere.

In many ways, your trust and accountability are built into your customer service capabilities, and a portal is an extension of that. The software may help make it convenient, but it's up to your organization to make a customer portal experience effective. There are also a number of benefits in enabling your customers to retrieve and share the information that they require.

Benefits of Customer Portals

Customer portals can provide a number of important benefits for you and your customers. Customers have the ability to track their support requests and the answers or resolutions they received for past requests, enabling them to use a customer portal as a knowledge source and avoid asking the same questions again. Customers can manage and track their support requests, giving them confidence that their concerns and questions are being heard and addressed.

Your organization can also track the interactions of customers within the portal to highlight repeat issues or identify a new need. Some companies are even evolving their customer portals into interactive communities that allow customers to respond to each other’s questions. Having customers engaged in a dialogue to help resolve issues and make improvements could be a great benefit to your customer support efforts.

One important use case for customer portals is the ability to view tickets sent by your organization. For instance, companies using a customer portal software like SupportBee to support a client can take advantage of our customer groups feature to create a group specific to that client and enable portal access for the group. In this scenario, anyone from the client’s company who writes to you can see other tickets raised by the company within the portal. This allows you to learn from tickets sent by other members and learn from their answers, as well.

SupportBee’s Customer Portal Software

SupportBee’s customer portal software is a great example of a platform that works to reduce any barrier between your company and your customers. SupportBee enables you to customize the portal with your company’s branding and share private links with your customers for access. This makes it as easy as possible for them to access their information without having to log in to another system. Inside, they have the ability to raise and track tickets with a few clicks and access all the past queries with replies. This provides your customers with a complete view of their interactions with your company and a convenient, accessible forum for making future requests.

A customer portal doesn't need to be complicated, but it does have to be effective in order to leave a lasting and positive impression on the customer. It is one of those services where a bit of forethought and planning can make a huge impact on customer experience. Having a customized view of their important information and a seamless ability to interact with your support staff make it a great choice in developing your customer relationships far into the future.