customer portal
Back to articles Back to articles

Customer Portals: An Introductory Guide to This Must-Have Feature

Katie Iannace April 4, 2023

As the online world has expanded immensely in the past decade, the demand for a better customer experience from brands has grown with it. In the digital age, the customer experience is synonymous with customer service portals. Customer service portals provide a variety of ways for users to access information and self-service options, such as shipping and tracking information, past purchase history, customer service information, and online communal knowledgebase forums. 

In fact, according to a survey conducted by Microsoft, over 90% of customers expect companies to provide a customer support portal. Likewise, another report conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Twilio Flex found that 24% of Americans would rather shave their head than speak to customer service. 

In an age where contacting customer service can prove frustrating, having a self-service portal is a great way to conserve resources, avoid long waits for customers, and provide quick solutions to users who are likely already upset over a particular problem.

So, what other ways are customer portals used, and can your company benefit by incorporating one into your software solutions? Let’s break it down into a bit more detail below.

What is a Customer Portal?

A customer portal is a quick and standardized way for a company to provide relevant information and customer self-service options to its users in a secure interface. It’s designed to give customers a glance into their privatized interaction with your company, such as past purchase information, support requests, or item tracking information. 

Customer portals can also serve as a virtual landing pad for technological support, providing documentation, community forums, and other resources for helping customers with issues specifically related to your product. Ultimately, the customer portal is designed to increase customer satisfaction by providing an efficient, accessible, and open forum for knowledge and help. 

Why are Customer Portals Becoming More Important?

Customer portals seek to provide simplified solutions to complex and resource-consuming issues that an IT or customer service department may not be scaled to meet the demands. Customers’ feelings and experiences while interacting with your software influence their opinion about your brand and overall client retention rates. Happier customers equal better business. 

And while the concept isn’t rocket science, finding new ways to meet the demands of a larger customer base becomes difficult. As the demand for emphasizing the user and customer experience in today’s design becomes more important than ever, the emphasis on developing user-friendly, comprehensive portals has grown along with it. 

Benefits of Having a Customer Portal

So what are the benefits of customer portals, and why might developing one benefit your brand? Below are some of the top benefits of having a well-designed customer portal.

Highlights Potential Problems

A customer support portal not only engages your customer community, but it can also highlight needs or problems within your software before they become full-scale problems, giving you sufficient time to address them.

Allows Your Company to Provide Your Users with a Unique Value 

Likewise, customer service portals can provide a unique value that other similar companies may not offer, such as an automated process like bidding on items, price comparison features, or access to financial estimates on specific services or products. Customer service portals can also become a launching pad for customized service features that other businesses don’t offer, providing a unique niche in the market to exploit. 

Automates Processes

Similarly, portals offer the benefit of reducing resources for customer service departments by automating processes that would otherwise have to be done manually and by providing easy access to documentation that may solve a handful of user problems before they land at the IT desk. 

Makes Scalability More Accessible

They also provide a feasible strategy for maintaining a high quality of customer service while increasing the scalability of a business. In other words, they’re incredibly beneficial to grow companies. 

developer programing a customer portal in a custom web app

Does Your Business Need to Have a Customer Portal?

Not every business needs to have a customer portal, so it’s critical to fully understand when creating one is in the best interest of your company and when, to be frank, it’s simply a waste of your resources and time. 

If your business wants to create additional value for your customer base by empowering them to manage a delineated set of tasks, then a portal could be the right move. However, it’s important to note that just creating a customer portal simply isn’t enough— in fact, a poorly designed customer portal can be just as bad, if not worse, than not having one at all. So plan to spend money and invest resources in creating a portal that will genuinely improve the customer experience by offering more convenient ways to interact with your company. 

Likewise, a portal may be worth investing in if you want to scale your customer service infrastructure and expand your services as your client base grows. A well-designed portal can serve to both standardize knowledge and create a more accessible avenue for finding vital information.

What Features Should a Customer Portal Have?

While the scope and breadth of a customer can vary heavily depending on a business’s needs, a few staple items remain high on the list of priorities for any well-designed customer portal. 

Some of the most common building blocks for any customer portal include things like:

  • User customization options
  • Chatbot integration
  • Order invoice history
  • Statuses of any standing orders or services
  • Favorited items or wish lists
  • FAQ and a knowledge base 
  • Community forum support
  • Customer support and inquiry status updates

How Do You Create a Customer Portal for Your CRM?

So perhaps by now, you’ve determined that a customer portal is in your company’s best interest. What are the next steps to take to see your portal come to fruition in its best possible form? 

Find the Right Development Team 

The first step you can take is to find a development team capable of creating a fully integrated and responsive portal that aligns with your business’s budget and needs. It’s essential to find a design team that understands how to custom-build a portal according to your specific needs instead of a team that merely culls from past designs with other clients. 

Working with developers who actively communicate through their iteration process, amending specifications according to your project’s budget, timeline, and end goals is also critical. 

Determine What Features Your Current Software is Missing

By analyzing your current software and determining what functionality with customers it’s currently missing and carefully surveying existing customer feedback, you and your design team can determine what type of features and needs your future software should utilize.

Create a Prototype

Before creating a final product, the development team should provide you with a clickable portal prototype. This prototype will help your business to identify any concerns or issues before finalizing anything in stone, helping to iterate the best possible version of your final product.

Final Thoughts

The customer experience is a vital part of the digital user journey. As companies scale, finding efficient ways of providing service to their customer base becomes more pressing. Customer portals strive to provide the most efficient service to customers while promoting less drain on company time and resources. Implemented well, customer service portals can instill greater brand confidence and loyalty amongst users and drive growth. 

Are you ready to build a customer portal to meet your business’ growing needs? Not sure where to start?

Designli can help! 

Our expert team of developers has discovered many pain points for developing effective customer service portals over our years of experience. We understand the unique needs of businesses across several different industries and know that one solution does not fit all. 

Want to learn more about how we can ensure your digital project resonates with its user base? Schedule a free consultation with us today!

You might also like:

Let's build together.

We'd love to hear about your product or idea.

Get in touch