When it comes to customer service, much focus typically goes towards the front of the spear when it comes to your company: are we selling consultatively or aggressively?; how much does our marketing message resonate with prospects?; how many leads are we getting each month? Though the tip of the spear is incredibly important in building a differentiated brand, it’s even more important that once your prospects convert into customers that they have an exceptional experience. After all, we all know it’s easier to retain existing customers than it is to attract new ones.

Depending on your line of business, you may very likely have a backend platform that your customers visit to manage the details of their account. For instance, you may be a school that provides student, parent and faculty logins for your users to sign up for courses, browse upcoming school events and participate in online chats. Or perhaps you are a property management company who provides logins to your tenants, vendors and suppliers—each requiring different backend functionality from the ability to pay rent to log maintenance work.

Related Reading: Building Customer Loyalty with Dashboards

Businesses are increasingly placing importance on building a world-class customer portal as a core means to delivering exceptional customer service. But this increased focus also means brands must ask themselves a critical question: is our customer portal up to snuff?

When performing this exercise, consider whether your portal is:

  • Rich with functionality that your users actually desire—like the ability to pay bills online, participate in discussion forums, perform a search, etc.
  • Designed with user experience best practices in mind, leveraging appropriate fonts, color, spacing and charts to promote interactivity and engagement
  • Self-service and intuitive for your users from a navigation and flow standpoint

If you feel it’s time to evaluate, upgrade or evolve your customer portal, you may want to do so against some the backdrop of the following market research. Let’s take a look…

 

By 2020, the customer will manage 85% of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human (Gartner)

Simply put, your customer portal has to be failproof from a usability standpoint. Customers crave simplicity, intuitiveness and ease when it comes to using portals. What’s more, clients are more reluctant than ever before to reach out to a business when they need help. Rather, they want to be able to problem solve in real time on their own. As such, it’s critical that your portal is designed with robust features to support the user—think knowledge centers, user training tips, live chat support, etc.

 

60% of consumers view a brand with a mobile-responsive self-service option more favorably than one that doesn’t (Capterra)

With more and more customers logging into your portal via their mobile device, this means that you need to approach design, functionality and experience completely differently. Consider the following to make your customer portal more mobile-friendly:

  • Rethink your content strategy and how much content is palatable on mobile
  • Declutter your interface by being methodical and purposeful about every button, chart, picture and video you use
  • Chunk content. For example, if your customer will be updating his/her billing address, credit card information and email in the platform, consider creating a step-by-step process that divides each step with a separate pane

 

80% of customer service professionals say their current customer service systems won’t meet future needs (Dimension Data)

Your frontline employees, the ones responsible for delivering that ultimate client experience, have doubt that the systems of today will meet client needs of tomorrow. In revaluating your customer portal, spend some time talking with those in your organization who are responsible for delivering superior customer service. Not only is it imperative that your customer portal provides a heightened experience for your clients, but it’s also important that your team has the right tools to perform their job expertly.

As our Principal of Business Solutions Dana McInnis said in a recent blog post: “Make a concerted effort to ask your employees what would help them do their jobs better. They certainly know and will tell you if your company is committed to hearing about how they can make company-wide improvements.”

 

Is your mind swirling with ideas on how to enhance your customer portal? Drop us a note! We work with clients across all verticals on creating customer portals that operate as community engagement tools. We’d love to discuss your ideas together!

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