Keeping customers happy is essential to maintaining a healthy business. But recent disruptions like the global pandemic and economic uncertainty have made that harder than ever to achieve as customers expect more out of their digital solutions. To meet these changing demands, organizations need to have the tools and processes in place to support the customer experience from end to end.
Too often, however, companies lack adequate tools or use a disparate patchwork of tools, which creates a disjointed and frustrating user experience. So, what’s the solution? To empower your clients and customer-facing teams with a modern customer portal.
What Are Customer Portals?
A customer portal serves as a central location for your customers to access all the tools and information they need to manage their accounts and take full advantage of your company’s products or services. These spaces are usually private and secured through a customer login.
Customer portal software is designed to enhance the user experience by:
- Providing self-service features to help customers update their personal information, manage their own orders and returns, or schedule a service request.
- Personalizing what your customer sees in one view so that everything related to their purchase, such as documentation, order information, and announcements, is easy to access.
- Helping users quickly get to the content they're looking for through a relevant knowledge base, community forum, or tailored list of search results.
How Can a Customer Portal Support Your Digital Customer Experience Strategy?
Not only does a customer service portal empower users to find what they’re looking for or resolve an issue without agent assistance, but it also frees up your staff to focus on higher-priority tasks. Additionally, it can help you track user behavior on your site so that you can improve customer experience over time. For example, your portal can use the data to automatically recommend complementary products or services to your customers and deliver more relevant content as they navigate through your site.
Ultimately, the right online customer portal should have the tools and functionality you need to make your internal teams and your customers more efficient.
But not all customer portals are built the same. To create an optimized, seamless digital experience and serve more clients while using fewer resources, every customer portal software should:
- Centralize your systems to create an easy-to-access self-service platform.
- Provide publishing tools to ensure content is up to date.
- Enable your team to launch improvements over time.
Top 10 Trends in Customer Experience
This is only a fraction of what a great customer portal solution is capable of. When it comes to meeting the demands of the modern customer, you might wonder what others in the market are doing and which trends you should consider implementing yourself. Here are 10 of the top trends we’re seeing in the customer service portal and digital experience spaces:
1. Customers Expect Greater Personalization
For the past decade, personalization has been at the forefront of most successful digital strategies. However, advancements in this area have made customer support more competitive while driving rising expectations. According to Gartner, 86% of B2B customers now expect companies to be “well-informed” about their personal information for each interaction. Customer portals are a great way to not only centralize personal information and capture user behavior in one place but also use the data to deliver tailored, relevant content on a regular basis. Automating this process allows you to consistently meet and exceed your customers’ expectations.
2. Leveraging Analytics and Data Is Essential
Most customer portal software provides you with a traditional analytics package that allows you to track things like user behavior, page popularity, and content performance. This is useful for making general improvements on your site over time. In fact, 84% of service and support leaders cited leveraging customer data and analytics as a top priority for achieving organizational goals in 2023.
However, the true power of a portal lies in its ability to connect to different data sources so that you can automatically pull data from separate systems and show them in one view or dashboard. This allows you to unlock new insights that can help you improve your business. For example, customer-facing teams can identify at-risk customers by cross-referencing CRM data with your ticketing system to see how service resolution times impact customer spending.
3. Businesses Want Data Privacy and Protection
While data enables the experiences that customers demand, it also comes with a responsibility to protect your users’ privacy and information. According to Gartner, 84% of businesses report data privacy as “the most valuable factor” when making purchasing decisions around new solutions. It’s essential that your customer portal software comes with strong built-in security features to keep your users and your organization safe from data breaches.
4. Customers Demand Faster Support
Outside of security, two-thirds of customers value speed as much as price, according to a new report from Jay Baer, a customer experience expert. In fact, over 50% reported hiring the first business to respond — even if it was more expensive. For B2B companies, this means your customer service portal needs to provide easy self-service tools that allow users to find the information they’re looking for efficiently.
5. 24/7 Availability Is the Norm
When it comes to customer portals, efficiency, and accessibility go hand in hand. Not only do customers demand fast response and issue resolution times, they also want flexibility in when they interact with your brand. In addition to speed, a portal offers 24/7 availability. Through a secure login portal, a user can access their account whenever they want and find personalized information.
6. Chatbot Adoption Is on the Rise
To further empower customer self-service, many organizations are taking advantage of chatbot advancements. According to McKinsey, around 65% of leaders reported a significant decrease in call volume after implementing these self-service tools. Chatbots offer speedy, 24/7 assistance to field the majority of customer questions, freeing up valuable time for customer support agents to focus on higher-value tasks.
7. Emerging AI Generates Human-Like Responses
Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are pushing the boundaries of what chatbots and other self-service tools can do. With natural language processing, these intelligent, AI-powered bots can provide customers with immediate responses while allowing businesses to scale their support operations.
8. Mobile Support Is Essential
As younger, digitally native generations age into the role of B2B consumers, they’re increasingly demanding mobile-responsive customer support. Today, 78% of customers use their mobile devices to connect with brands for support. If your customer portal doesn’t provide a consistent experience across desktop and mobile devices, you’re likely missing out on valuable interactions and potentially driving away prospects and loyal customers.
9. A Seamless Multi-Channel Customer Experience Is Critical
Beyond moving from a website to a mobile app, today’s customers want a seamless experience across every touchpoint. It’s not enough for companies to use a patchwork of disconnected technologies that customers must navigate. Instead, organizations need to provide a consistent, omnichannel experience across web browsers, phones, email, messaging, and more — leveraging user data to personalize each interaction and save your customers time.
A customer portal can help you ensure a seamless experience by automatically routing your customers through an approval process or handing them off to the right service representative based on their inquiry. It can also make it easy for your teams to create content in one place and optimize the way it’s delivered and displayed on different channels, such as a smart/IoT device, kiosk, or virtual assistant.
10. DXPs Make It Easier to Manage Experiences
As customer expectations rise, many organizations seek individual tools to handle some aspect of self-service. However, without a platform to unify these tools in one place while providing a modern, comprehensive self-service offering, you can end up with a disjointed, confusing customer experience.
A digital experience platform (DXP) offers all of the tools you need to streamline customer support interactions and enhance visibility into user behavior. By connecting your organization’s existing systems and providing out-of-the-box self-service tools, the right DXP allows you to deliver a more reliable, consistent, and scalable digital experience for your users.
What to Look for in a Customer Portal
So, what capabilities and functionality should you look for in a customer service portal? While it’s easy to find examples of exceptional customer portals, let’s take a look at some essential features.
At a fundamental level, your self-service solution needs to offer 24/7 accessibility, fast response times to questions or issues, and consistency across all channels and interactions. Beyond that, a customer portal should help your organization:
Connect Systems in Your Tech Stack: Your portal should connect disparate systems within your tech stack, providing a single gateway for customers to access all the content, tools, and resources they need while staying consistent with your brand.
Deliver a Unified Experience: Once you have a portal connecting your systems, you can create workflows, unlock insights, and streamline processes to deliver a better, more unified experience to both your customers and employees.
Streamline Customer Onboarding: A portal needs to offer a streamlined onboarding process so customers can start seeing the success of your product or service as soon as possible. This increases the likelihood that they will integrate it into their routine and recommend it to others.
Improve Navigation: Customers expect an easy way to answer their own questions. Your self-service solution should have a user-friendly interface, simple navigation, and powerful search features to help them find what they need.
Keep Your Portal Up-to-Date: Outside of the customer, a portal should also improve your team’s experience by equipping them with the tools they need to keep everything up to date.
Want to learn more about how a customer portal can benefit your customers and your business? Read our ebook to delve deep into the five building blocks of a modern customer portal.