What is a Customer Portal and Why It's Essential for Your Business

February 27, 2021

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Customer Portals Explained

Effectively, a customer portal is an online platform, usually a website or an application that allows your customers to access your services through the internet. With the help of a customer portal, they may be able to log into their account, see relevant information such policies and invoices, review past deliveries and orders, and adjust options to make your service suit their needs better.

Customer portals allow your business to have a way for customers to engage your business 24/7, without the need for any human intervention unless they request support every day. It depends on how your portal is built, but most are designed to work on desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, and other devices. Customer portals are also regularly known as self-service portals, or Client portals since they allow clients and customers to take care of many of their own needs.

Related: How to Increase Customer Satisfaction for Your Small Company or Firm

Why Businesses Choose Customer Portals

There are a host of benefits associated with implementing customer portals. Here, we’re going to look at some of the ways they can help both employees and customers when it comes to accessing and updating relevant details:

  • Reduce the cost of helping customers: Without self-service, customers have to rely on call ticket systems for more services, which takes time and money for your team to respond.
  • Customers can avoid human interactions: A lot of customers like to take care of their own needs. It saves them time and effort, meaning they develop a better impression of the business.
  • Allows your agents to focus on customer service that matters: If your agents aren't dealing with the primary requests for information that a portal can offer, you can instead have them work on more demanding and valuable customer interactions.
  • Drive more traffic to the site: A portal can be built into your existing business website, allowing you to drive more traffic to high conversion pages potentially.

Furthermore, new customer portals can be designed to be integrated with other tools that allow for much more effective and efficient service management. StandingPoint is a service management platform that combines the customer portal of our client-labeled interface with team management, workflow automation, and other tools.

Do You Need to Improve Customer Satisfaction? Check this out.

A Pathway Up

Why Businesses Need Customer Portals

Not every business needs a customer portal, of course, but many of them prefer them. If you're looking to enhance your support team's effectiveness or avoid losing customers due to them having trouble locating the information they need, a customer portal might be the right solution. They're secure, they're convenient, and they can be customized to meet the needs of the business.

If your business relies on sharing documents such as welcome packs or making relevant information available, such as order and invoice histories, then a customer portal is one of the most effective ways to deliver it. Furthermore, if you run a relatively small support team and don't want to recruit additional ones while reducing the monotonous fact-finding work your team needs to do, customer portals can take some of the workloads of your support team.

Related: How to Make Your Small Business Stand Out

What Customer Portals Can Do For You

Though customer portals tend to fit the definition stated above, the specifics of what features and functions they have can differ. Customer portals can be customized to meet your needs, especially with the help of service management platforms like StartingPoint. As such, here are a range of features to consider when you’re looking at the possibility of installing a customer portal:

  • Always Available Self-Service: Allowing clients to use a secure web service from all manner of connected devices, 24/7, every day of the year.
  • Order Management: Clients may be able to use the portal to place new orders, customize orders that haven't gone out yet, and look at past orders.
  • Use Your Branding: The client-labeled interface from StartingPoint allows you to maintain your logo and branded content to make the portal better integrated with your business.
  • Access To Relevant Records And Information: Customer portals can be integrated with CRMs, as well as service management features from StatingPoint to allow both customers and your team to access invoices, delivery details, payment statements, and more.
  • Permission-based Controls: You can make sure that your team members have access to the functions most relevant to them by setting permission-based controls on different information and features.

Ensuring Total Security

Aside from the kind of functionality and benefits mentioned above, any customer portal or service management platform you work with should make an effort to incorporate the security that you need. Multiple levels of authentication, permission-based controls, and other features can all ensure that the data stored on the portal is kept as safe as possible. 

Security features to look for can include the following:

  • Single Sign-On: Users who have logins for other systems, be it an eCommerce site or other service management software, can use a unique ID and password across related, yet separate, platforms.
  • Password Expiration Policies: You can ensure that users update their passwords regularly, reducing their risks of being leaked or stolen.
  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL): This is a method of encryption that ensures any data being sent to and from the portal’s host is unreadable, should anyone be able to eavesdrop on it.
  • LDAP: An authentication protocol that ensures any tools are authorized to access directory information.
  • IP Whitelists: Allows you to limit certain functions and data accesses to only the most trusted IP addresses.
Digital Security Matrix

Service Management Solutions Can Meet Your Customer Portal Needs

At StartingPoint, we offer a full client service management and retention platform that includes, amongst other things, a client-labeled interface that can serve as the customer portal that allows your customers to better interface with your business. By streaming communications, allowing for smooth online engagement, and providing your team with the tools to quickly respond to client needs, you can offer your customers much more value.

Please take a look around the site to learn more about how our service management solutions can meet your needs. Then you can get in touch with us to start building the customer portal and supporting tools that can take your business to the next level.

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