As more and more businesses continue to try to find new ways to connect with their customers and provide as much long-term value as possible, one strategy that pops up time and again takes the form of the customer portal.
Regardless of the type of business you're running, you never want to make a customer change the way they like to do things to make YOUR life more convenient. You want to give them options to interact with your brand on THEIR terms, and a customer portal is designed to do precisely that.
But what exactly is a customer portal? How can you make sure that yours quickly becomes the invaluable resource and wealth of information that both you and your customers need? The answers to these questions may seem straightforward, but they do require you to keep a few key things in mind.
Why Customer Portals Matter
At their core, customer portals are exactly what they sound like—a software resource where a customer can get the information they need without actually talking to a service employee.
The immediate benefit is that customers get to check their ticket status, get answers to their questions, or troubleshoot problems without taking up the time of your human employees who can then focus more on those tasks that really need them.
A Help Desk is a prime example of a customer portal, but there are others as well. Even something as simple as an FAQ page or a knowledge base filled with helpful articles would fit the description.
Overall, customers can get answers to quick questions or address concerns without picking up the phone or sending an email. They get immediate access to what they need, creating a better experience along the way, and you get to save time and money by allowing your employees to focus on those tasks that will propel your business forward. It's a classic case of the "win-win" scenario in every sense of the term.
Building a Better Customer Portal From the Ground Up
In order to create the best possible customer portal for your own business, you'll first want to make sure that yours does what it was designed to do in the first place. That is to say, it needs to be a way to proactively support customers rather than waiting for them to reach out for you to help.
If you know you're going to be pushing out a software update, for example, sit down and think of a list of possible things that may go wrong on the customer's end. Then, write helpful articles walking them through the process of fixing these problems on their own.
Likewise, keep customers in the loop about what this update is supposed to do and why it's so important in the first place. Not only can this help save your support team time during the immediate aftermath of a software update, but it also increases customer engagement and satisfaction in a way that supports business growth as well.
It's important to understand that your customer portal needs to be a true learning environment. It needs to both empower communities and be customer-centric in its nature. To have success in these areas, you'll want to focus on things like:
The user experience
Follow all design best practices to make sure that your customer portal is as easy as humanly possible to use. People should be able to find the information they're looking for literally in a matter of seconds. All the information in the world won't help if people can't reliably access it.
Customize your portal
This helps make sure not only that you're offering a rich user experience, but one that is also consistent with all of your other touch points like your website and even your social media channels.
Constantly update your customer portal content with new information
If your customer portal is allowed to fall out of date and is filled with nothing but information that hasn't been relevant in years, people are going to feel that pretty quickly. Not only will they stop using it--you'll also develop a reputation as someone who only pretends to care about their customers. Make an effort to write fresh, helpful content for your customer portal on a regular basis to help prevent this from happening to you.
If you're able to accomplish all of these goals, your customer portal will become yet another brick in the rock-solid foundation that your entire business rests upon.
A Partner in Technology is a Partner in Relationships
At ManoByte, we've been helping businesses like yours accomplish goals like these for many years and we're honored for the opportunity to do the same for you, too. We understand that a customer portal is more than just another tech-based resource to you. It's a way to improve your relationships with your existing customers and build your reputation as a thought leader in your industry at the exact same time.
With a goal that important, you need a partner who understands what you're trying to do and why it's so important. At ManoByte, that's exactly what we're here for and we wouldn't have it any other way.
If you still have any additional questions about how to build trust and communicate with your customer base through customer portals, or if you have any other topics that you'd like to discuss in a bit more detail, please don't hesitate to contact ManoByte today.