Thursday, December 13, 2018

Build a Better Customer Portal & Customer Facing Website

It is no secret that customers have become increasingly demanding in recent years. One reason for their increased demands is the evolution of a digital culture in which gratification is only a click away. As a result, when a customer experiences an issue with the service or product in which he or she has invested time or money, a lightning-fast resolution is expected. In an attempt to deliver a quick response to customers, many companies have built customer service portals. However, these portals do not always offer the functionality required to satisfy demanding customers.

The benefits of having a customer web portal

Customers today have higher expectations than ever before. Being placed on hold for even two or three minutes or waiting hours for an email response can be unacceptable to many people. In addition, repeated surveys have indicated that customers overwhelmingly want greater control over their buying experience, from initial research to tracking shipments in transit.

With an online portal, customers can serve themselves. 

They can access a knowledge base of troubleshooting tips, check their purchase history or find helpful tutorials. Many questions or issues can be resolved without the customer ever needing to speak to or email a CSR. Representatives can devote more time to issues that cannot be resolved through the portal, while customers receive answers more quickly and with less friction. Self-service portals need not be a cloud solution. In-house deployments allow businesses to retain control over the portal and the underlying data. Security measures can be tailored to match the needs of the business or industry-specific regulations.

In addition to reducing costs, online portals can help improve revenue. 

Marketing campaigns can be personalized and targeted for each customer or for a group of customers. Reminders or suggestions, such as service appointments or deadlines to purchase items covered by a free shipping promotion, are easily passed to the customer. Sales representatives have more time to work leads or devote to customers whose issues cannot be resolved through the portal.

In today's competitive economy, it is important to give customers what they want -- and one thing they want is the ability to choose self-service. An online portal is an easy solution to help meet their needs.

Here are three features that you should consider adding to your customer service portal.

Make sure your portal is mobile friendly

One of the most critical features for your portal is optimizing it for mobile devices. The number of users who rely on smart phones and tablets for all of their online needs has been growing in recent years. If mobile users cannot access, navigate or otherwise avail themselves of your portal, they can become frustrated and angry. Ensure you work with a developer who is experienced in building mobile software applications.

Keep customers updated on issues

Set up a status page so that customers can track what you are doing to resolve their issue. It need not be elaborate, but this extra communication lets them know that you are working on their problem. Often, this can calm disgruntled customers and help salvage your reputation.

Make contact information easy to find

Many companies overlook an essential part of an effective customer service portal — your contact information. This includes information such as phone numbers or email addresses, but it should also include vital information such as the hours that your phone lines are open or the time it will take you to respond to an email. Furthermore, customers should not have to search through various pages to find this information. Instead, a navigation link or tab should be prominently displayed if the actual information does not appear on the same page.

About the author

Joe Lewis is the owner and president of PhaseAlpha, a custom software company that develops solutions for businesses of all sizes in all industries. We can help you with a custom solution for your customer web portal. To learn more, email info@phasealpha.com or call (888) 559-5673.


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