What your customers don’t have enough of is more time. So it’s no surprise that online self-service is increasing in popularity. With a customer portal, you can increase sales, offer new services and simultaneously streamline and reduce costs for customer service.
Being able to offer your customers a portal is starting to become a hygiene factor, particularly today where your customers have more options, more products to choose between, more information facilitating the buying decision and an increased range of channels for handling aftermarket issues.
4 reasons you should invest in a customer portal
1. To present information in an instructive and logical way
Give your customers all the information they need in a structured way, from size tables to contents list and informative guides. Otherwise they will look for this information elsewhere, which can result in your customers choosing to buy from one of your competitors instead.
2. To free up time for sales and support
Statistically, when your customers have the tools to find the answers to their own questions, they use them. So build a knowledge database with a FAQ, user guides or help the customer to do troubleshooting with a step-by-step guide.
Offer the customers the opportunity to view their invoices, contracts and loyalty rewards and to use a range of smart tools such as configurators, calculators etc.
This will reduce support tickets and you will save time, which you can instead spend on value-adding activities in your business.
3. To create a personalised buying experience
Offer your customers a personalised buying experience online. With tailored offers, individual cross/upselling, targeted marketing and tools to facilitate the buying decision, you can save time and make things easier for your customers. And tools such as chatbots or a voice interface can significantly improve the customer experience.
4. To maximise the customer experience for greater customer loyalty
Customers who can resolve the majority of their problems in a portal get a positive impression of the brand. Customers appreciate any service that simplifies their everyday lives or solves their problems. This contributes to customer loyalty.
For a customer to consider changing supplier, the competitor must offer at least as good a range of services, if not better.
In recent years, we have seen that B2B customers have started becoming more independent in their purchase process, and in the support context too. We see that increasing numbers of customers are expecting to be able to make purchases and get support by themselves, when they want and from whatever device they choose.
Forrester predicts that 2020 will be the year when increasing numbers of B2B customers demand a more appealing customer experience, and when you as a supplier must strive to fulfil their high expectations.
Challenges with creating a future-proof customer portal
But creating a customer portal that should both work now and be flexible enough to change as new business demands arise is far from straightforward. Naturally, you want to keep costs down, but at the same time you must create a portal that can quickly change based on the demands of the business and its operating context.
Here are just a few of the challenges that must be resolved:
- More system solutions will need to be integrated over time to handle future needs and demands
- The customer portal must often handle complex business logic that combines a number of business processes and functions
- The portal must support several different types of business model – this requires a complete solution that satisfies both the customers’ and company’s needs in the short and long-term
- The requirements of both internal and external users must be taken into account
- The user experience must be modern, helpful and easy to learn