A customer self-service portal, as the name suggests, is a website or an application that allows customers to help themselves. Businesses leverage customer portals to help their customers find answers to their common queries and questions easily on their own. Customers may also place orders, raise complaint tickets, track their progress, etc. without any need for human support.
It is a win-win situation for both your organization and your customers. Because for you, it takes away the hassle of handling redundant queries and complaints. For customers, it helps solve most of their problems themselves which saves their time and engages them.
Elements and Features to Consider When Building a Customer Portal
When you build a customer portal, there are a few elements and features you can not miss!.
1. Online Community
When you build your own customer portal, having an online community for your customers is important. This way, you allow them to discuss your products, their features and share their experiences via forums. User-generated content can be a great way to boost your credibility via good reviews and recommendations.
One thing you need to make sure is to moderate the content after regular intervals. Check it for any spam and violation of language guidelines, respond to your customers’ frequent queries, questions, or complaints.
2. Ticket Generation
Your portal should provide your customers with the ability to generate support tickets. When you build a customer portal, it should allow customers to generate a new support ticket, track an existing ticket’s progress, and post relevant comments on a ticket if required.
3. Product Documentation
Online product documentation (primarily user manuals) is a feature you can’t miss out on when you build a customer portal. This is because no customer likes to wade through the long paper manuals that come with products.
As the complexity of a product increases, you can also provide other forms of media like videos on common issues, top-used features, feature-wise use cases, etc. to supplement it.
Well-maintained online product documentation reduces not only your customers’ but also your work.
4. Online Training
The concept of online training has lately been highly popular. Make sure that you provide online training to customers when you build a customer portal. The ways to provide the online training can vary but online training is a must.
You can develop an entire e-learning environment or create small tutorials and how-to videos about implementation steps, troubleshooting issues, etc. However, keep your language and training material generic and easily consumable.
Remember - your purpose is to simplify your customers’ work, not make it complex. So, stay away from excessive technical jargon and technical language while preparing your training material.
5. Search Box
A search box is a crucial feature to include when you build a customer portal. It helps save a customer’s time and redirects them to what they are looking for. One thing to note here is that the customer’s search should return the exact match of their search.
It can be a community post, product manual, a release note, or anything depending on what the customer types. This implies that a search operation shouldn’t always redirect a customer to a knowledge base but to the best relevant match.
When you build a customer portal, an exhaustive list of frequently asked questions is a must. FAQs let customers click on the link to a particular issue they are facing out of the list available and get the solution.
Keep revising your FAQs timely to keep them updated and relevant. Filter out the questions pertaining to products that are no longer in use or very old versions of a product. You can also find out details like most common search strings and top-used articles to create useful FAQs.
7. Decision Tree
A decision tree is basically a series of indexes to help customers narrow down content options and get what they need fast. For example, you can keep product names in the top tier. The second tier could comprise options like implementation, configuration, etc. for each product. The third tier could consist of more options specific to each product.
8. Chat Bots
AI-based chatbots are getting popular with each passing day. Virtually every site and service portal provides a chat bot option to help customers connect in real-time today. Chatbots have natural language processing capabilities which help them learn with more interactions with customers and enhance their quality of replies.
Looking to build a customer portal with the best features to suit your business logic? With CRMJetty by your side, you can stay assured of getting the best-fit portal for you.
How to Build a Customer Portal
1. Review Your Resources
Check and review your resources to be sure that you have the right infrastructure, technology, and team to proceed with. You can calculate working hours you would need to set up your portal properly and bridge the gap between working hours you need and those that your resources can provide. Also look for the framework and technology you will need to start your portal development.
2. Offer What Your Customers Need
When you build a customer portal, engage and interact with your customers to find out what they expect. Doing this will help build a portal that serves the actual purpose and doesn’t turn out to be “a white elephant”.
3. Review Your Processes
Going over the board and including non-valuable or irrelevant content or functionalities can backfire. It can cause customers to drift away and cause wastage of money, time, and effort. Hence, always review the processes and functionalities to keep them in line with the customers’ real demands when you build a customer portal.
You can engage with your target customers at various stages of development to get insights into their preferences and expectations. This will help you build a customer portal that customers will find valuable.
4. Gather and Analyze Pre-Launch Feedback from “Quality” Customers
Every organization has a loyal and quality base of customers. Make use of it for your portal development. Before you publicly roll out your portal, involve some best champion customers and request their feedback and reviews.
Analyze the feedback to improve your product to meet customers’ needs better. It won’t only make your portal more purpose-oriented but also bridge the gap between your offering and customers’ demands.
5. Make It Public
Once you build a portal, it’s time to release it. You can do it in phases or completely by providing the functionalities all at once. Also, prepare yourself and your team to preempt queries and issues that may present during the launch.
6. Market Your Portal
You build a customer portal for your customers. If you don’t inform them that you now have your own customer portal, how would they use it? Simply put, market your customer portal across various channels. Encourage your customers who call or email you to use your portal gently. Send out messages, emails, etc. to spread the word around. Highlight the new portal on your website on top or in a separate section dedicated to it. This only will help you get the traffic on your portal and reduce your support costs - the purpose you built it for in the first place.
7. Encourage Feedback and Reviews
You have given you best and you know that. But do customers know that too? This is where feedback comes into the picture. Let them be a part of your portal improvisation and upgrade by encouraging them to submit feedback.
You can use methods like auto-triggered event surveys after a fixed number of customers uses the portal. You also target specific customers to solicit quality feedback from them. Whatever be your way, you must get insights into what your customers think about your portal.
With the right feedback at your disposal, find out the gaps and scopes of improvement. Work on them and make your portal better and more fitting each day!
Advantages of a Customer Portal
A customer portal offers numerous advantages to both you and your customers. As customers can solve their problems themselves, it makes customer service management easier. Automated self-service via your portal saves you the expenses of hiring and training new support agents to handle customer’s increasing queries as your business grows. A portal also saves your support team’s time and energy on handling minor self-solvable problems. This gives them more time to focus on more complex problems, be proactive, and increase efficiency.
Customers are prone to errors and lethargy after working continuously for long shifts. A customer portal on the other hand can be a great replacement for your 24/7 support agent team. As it neither makes mistakes nor feels the burnout unlike humans. Coming to the cost, a customer self-service portal is the most cost-effective means of support among phone, email, or others.
If you are thinking of how to build a website portal for your organization, we can help you out. Our customer portal solution is a ready-to-integrate portal solution. All you have to do is to integrate it and start off.
How CRMJetty Can Help?
Self-service is the future of the customer support sector and it’s time you offered that to customers. If you also want to build a next-gen customer portal for your business, CRMJetty can be your partner.
We, at CRMjetty, provide a feature-rich and launch-ready customer portal solution. It is expandable and readily configurable to fit your business logic. It means you can customize your portal the way you want as per your business needs. Even If your requirements differ a lot, don’t fret. We can build a customer portal exclusively for you - from the ground up!
So, let’s collaborate to make you the best portal.