What is a Modern Customer Web Portal?
Customers today want to log in and enjoy a simple and good quality experience. This means it would make a lot of business sense for companies to implement a modern customer web portal, and here’s why.
In our hyper-connected digital world, a good customer web portal with a great user experience is pretty much mandatory for businesses that wish to stay ahead of the competition, engage customers in a positive manner, and grow their customer base.
A customer web portal is a website that allows customers to log in to a business (or government agency in the public sector) and enjoy a personalised experience as they request services, order products, find and read information, and peruse their own unique customer history. These portals are secure digital locations that give customers an easy and direct single point of access from which to explore to their hearts’ content.
Customer web portals have come a long way over the last 10 years or so. Today’s modern customer portals and service portals now offer advanced personalisation and customisation options, allowing businesses to provide highly curated information and unique features to their customers.
In this article, we’ll help you understand what functions and features are necessary to make a great customer web portal that improves the digital experience of your customers.
Why Do Customers Enjoy Using Good Quality Web Portals?
Customers have made their preferences for using web portals clear. Recent figures from Statista found that 88% of customers globally now expect brands to offer an online service and support web portal. If made available, 91% of customers would use an online knowledge base if it was tailored to their own requirements and Gartner predicts that by 2030, customers will generate a billion service tickets while trying to find answers for themselves online.
So, why do today’s modern customers enjoy using web portals so much? What exactly do they get out of the experience and what do they expect? In a nutshell, simplicity and good information. Customers want self-service portals to be responsive to their needs and enquiries, helping to solve their issues in a timely manner. Customer web portals need to be engaging, informative, and even entertaining as customers gain access to buying products and services in both B2C and B2B environments. In addition, it’s crucial for portals to be intuitive, delivering easy-to-use experiences across all touch points.
In other words, they want convenience - which leads to increased satisfaction - and they want it delivered digitally at the time of their own choosing.
Some of these customer desires transcend multiple channels, touch points, and interactions but a great customer web portal is definitely one way to create seamless and personalised experiences to ensure your organisation meets many of these modern customer expectations.
Use Cases and Examples: Why Users Would Use a Customer Web Portal
A customer web portal can meet the unique needs of your customers by delivering content, services, and tools that are specific to each customer.
Exact use cases tend to vary depending on the industry in question. Examples of common customer portals across various sectors include:
- Financial services: providing personalised online banking services for a retail or business banking customer.
- Utilities companies: providing online tools to monitor and control a customer’s water or electricity usage for a business, tenant, or homeowner.
- Software vendors: providing new customers with specialised onboarding help and tools when the customer buys software for the first time.
As you can see, the examples are numerous with each set of products and services across different industries presenting opportunities for delivering great customer experiences through a modern web portal.
Critical Elements to Consider When Deploying Customer Web Portals
Organisations often face the choice between building or buying when it comes to deploying a modern customer web portal. There are pros and cons for each approach, but the fact is that creating a customer portal from scratch can require extensive resources where time and costs will add up.
However, investing in great customer web portal software that’s been proven to deliver the following capabilities can help you build an effective platform to serve your customers better. These are the 6 critical elements to look for:
1. High Availability and Scalability as Your Business Expands
No matter what kind of business goals you have, any good portal software needs to have high availability and scalability built in to meet your needs as your organisation changes over time. This capability ensures that your software is built at the architectural level to mitigate against unexpected events and unplanned changes in your business landscape. Not only should your software be safe from a business risk perspective, it should also be able to handle a growing amount of interactions, expanding exponentially if necessary as your business, products, and services change and grow.
2. Robust Self-Service Capabilities
According to a recent study, 59% of consumers and 71% of business buyers say that self-service availability impacts their loyalty to a brand. In today’s digital environment, online self-service functions commonly exist such as access to a strong knowledge base, the ability to lodge and resolve service requests, and being able to easily find and initiate instant chat services. These offerings are no longer supplemental tools, they are online necessities that customers use every day. These features are now expected by most consumers, so it’s important that customer web portal software includes these self-service capabilities in order to create an instantaneous and positive digital experience.
3. Highly Flexible to Change With Your Business
Portal software can vary quite a lot in flexibility and adaptability, and great portal software will be the kind that can adapt to your business needs. For example, an organisation with a dedicated team of programmers would benefit from a customer web portal built on open source software which caters for extra flexibility, customisation, and integration. Equally, if the organisation doesn’t have programmers on the team, it’s just as important to find software that provides plenty of best practice out-of-the-box features and tools, so that non-technical team members can easily learn how to use the platform so the organisation can gain all of the benefits.
4. Security to Protect Your Customer’s Information
In our hyper-connected digital landscape, customer data as well as commercial company information is regularly stored online, often moving between locations. Customer portals will often need to contain sensitive information such as patient or client addresses, customer credit card information, order invoices, and other identifying data. A secure customer portal, with robust modern features such as encryption and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), will allow users to feel safe when inputting private information or accessing sensitive documents within your web portal. In short, best practice online security is expected with the ability to safeguard any and all sensitive data, so be sure to deliver a secure experience for your customers if you want to protect your brand integrity and customer experience.
5. In-Depth Analytics Tools for Improving Customer Experiences
No digital experience should remain stagnant; the beauty of online platforms is they can always be fine tuned, updated, and enhanced. Organisations need to ensure the digital experiences they present through customer web portals come with a high quality analytics function, harnessing data for analysis, scrutiny, and improvement. For example, you always want to know whether a particular page or service is performing well. Analytics can help you ask and answer questions like ‘does the customer know exactly where to find the information they are seeking?’ or ‘is there anything on a particular page that is negatively impacting user behaviour?’. The right customer web portal software includes valuable and comprehensive analytical tools and reports that deliver this key requirement, examining the effectiveness of your portal and providing information that will be helpful in continually enhancing the overall customer experience.
6. Customer-Centred Functionalities
Ultimately a customer portal should enhance the experience customers have with your organisation. When you are looking for software to start building a customer portal, consider offerings that include the functionalities that would best benefit the experience for your end users. No two customer portals will have all of the exact same features and functions because each business will have its own unique goals, products, and services. Whether the software you select has in-built advanced search functions, multi language support, or varying security hierarchies, make sure you choose the software with the capabilities that can best serve your specific customers.
Business Benefits of Self-Service Portals and How to Get Started
Beyond delivering a better customer online experience with your company, a web portal provides a range of business benefits. These include reduced costs from storing information digitally (reducing the need to print and post materials) and lower support costs as customers more readily help themselves without having to talk to service staff as often. Another major business benefit is staff utilisation. When a good quality self-service platform is available with the customer web portal, sales and service representatives have more time to focus on tasks of greater value.
Ultimately - while there are several key components that comprise great customer web portals, the most important elements are those that will build a satisfying customer experience for your users. Not just immediately but over the duration of a long-term mutually rewarding relationship. Furthermore, a portal that can be custom-tailored to your customers’ exact needs will be integral to your organisation’s ongoing success.
Ready to request a demo of Liferay’s customer web portal? If you’re in the research phase or planning your own portal, now could be the ideal time to explore Liferay’s digital experience platform (DXP) - you can request a live demo anytime and we’ll be happy to show you all the features and functionality built in to help you achieve your customer experience and process efficiency goals.