What Is A Customer Portal Why Is It Essential To Empower Customers

What is a customer portal? Why is it essential to Empower Customers?

Everyone knows that only customers create value. You can create all the products in the world, you can have all the inventory in the world, but if you don’t have a customer, you don’t have a business.

Don Peppers, author & founding partner of customer-centric consultancy Peppers + Rogers.

Customers play a crucial role in a business, irrespective of the industry and the services, one is offering. No business exist without their customers. They are the ones who drive the business and sales. An organization needs to understand user behavior, activities, and their necessities. Also, catering to their requirements with a proactive approach is highly essential. Businesses should strive hard to build relationships and achieve customer satisfaction.

Focussing on customer satisfaction is a prime aspect of building a healthy and long-term relationship with your customers. It should be the prime focus as customers drive business and generate revenue. The study conducted by American Express shows that “when customers leave, around 61% take their business to a competitor”, which is straight away a massive loss to the company. Strategizing about customer satisfaction is very important instead, it will be a risky approach to take. One can bring customer-centricity in their business with the customer portals that should serve the needs and revolve around the convenience of their highly valued customers.

What is a customer portal?

It is a software interface that gives a personalized touch on an individual level. It is a single point of access to a company’s information such as policies, updates, invoices, orders, etc. Each customer has to login to the portal to access a piece of information. For instance, a registered customer in an e-commerce website can log in to the portal to purchase, check items, features, policies, order status. Customers can further be segregated into groups so that different groups have access to the different portals. For example, big branded portals are made accessible to big clients, specialized portals for wholesale and retailers, and basic personalized portals for the rest.

Benefits of Customer Portal:

  1. Increases customer satisfaction: Meeting customer expectations will improve customer satisfaction, improve retention, and this will enable businesses to give a competitive edge. Also, better customer satisfaction will make the customers happy and most likely recommend your brand to others. Word of mouth publicity is one of the most effective and powerful forms of communication that can increase the probability of generating huge prospects.

  2. Reduces Cost: One of the benefits of incorporating the customer portals is reduced labor cost. Customers can find most of the information online, which prevents them from calling the helpdesk. This reduces the labor costs involved and meanwhile, IT staff can focus on the issues that need human intervention enhancing employee productivity.

  3. Boosts web traffic: Customer portals are a great way to increase traffic to a website. The longer the customer stays on a page, the more the traffic is driven to that website. It is a factor that is taken into consideration by search engines to rank a website. 

How does it empower customers?

  • Self-service portal: Customers can access the portal at the time they need them. They gather information, relevant documents, policies, invoices, FAQs, password reset capabilities, raise a ticket, and track their status at a time that is convenient to them. It facilitates the customers to find information and solve their queries on their own before reaching out for help. Often the problems raised are inconsequential that can be dealt with without a customer care executive. A self-service portal boosts relationships and customer outreach. 

As per Salesforce Research, 2019: 69% of decision-makers at service organizations say self-service is an essential part of their service strategy.

Also, Gartner suggests that “By 2022, 85% of customer service interactions will start with self-service, up from 48% in 2019.”

Customers can also report problems through their registered account that is addressed with a simple mail later.

  • Personalized customer experience: A customer portal facilitates personalized data to the customers tailored based on their needs and preferences. It also addresses the customer with their name as they log into the portal. They keep the records of the products and services accessed to display relevant information.
  • Mobile access: Customer portals are accessible on all the devices such as tablets, laptops, and smartphones from anywhere irrespective of their location and time. After logging into the portal, customers can visit the section they want to explore. 
  • Hosts online community: Customer portal services allow communication and information sharing with fellow customers. It will be a place to discuss products and their functionalities, answer questions, and solve problems. Peer-to-peer interaction will develop a sense of belongingness and makes customers identify themselves with the brand. It will boost brand positioning and customers feel connected too.
  • Customer Engagement: Customer portals increase customer interaction which is a great sign for a healthy business. They visit the portal for posting queries, discuss, provide feedback, and learn about services and solutions. Customer portals foster customer engagement through learning and community platform. It increases the engagement levels as the customers gather relevant information to widen their knowledge about the products and offerings and utilize community forums from a single point of access. 

For instance, Apple’s customer portal, my support offers knowledgeable resources and learning content relevant to their products and services.

  • Make customers self-reliant: Customers coming up with a query and getting it solved in customer portals on a single occasion is not just enough. It is essential to empower the customers with best practices, so that the next time they face such issues, they would know how to deal with them. Self-reliant customers feel independent by not having to rely on the IT staff that improves customer experience and engagement.

Final thoughts:

Customer portal services will ramp up your support offerings as the business grows. Customers are empowered with portals to solve their issues which will lessen the burden on the IT team. It will enable the IT staff to focus on more complex problems that need human intervention. Portals are the perfect replacement for first-level support that will surely benefit a company from driving down the costs. Customized and personalizing the portal upon user needs will make them feel valued and develop a sense of connectivity with the brand. No business can fully operate without the customer portal in today’s business scenario, where losing one customer can take your business several steps back. 

Mesh 3.0, a ready-to-deploy digital accelerator platform facilitates extensive collaboration, communication, knowledge sharing with the help of Microsoft AI technologies. Personalization and recommendation, Knowledge mining, Cognitive enterprise search are some of the features of Mesh that can assimilate into customer portals for the best customer experience.

To know more about Mesh, please feel free to get in touch with our digital workplace consultants for a personalized demo.