How to Design a Great Online Customer Portal

July 11, 2018

Customer Support has been one of the key drivers for any Business to sustain in this competitive market. When the significance of this new extension to Business Vertical was realized, the solution demanded presence of Contact Centers. Nonetheless Customer Contact Center has been serving the purpose fairly for over a decade, but Customer Engagement and Support demands have been changing drastically. With the advancement of technology and accessibility of information at finger tips, so has the expectations of Customer base shifted to online support information hub which is couple of clicks away.

Shift to Online Customer Portals

Use of Online Customer Portal varies based on the type of interaction the Customer engages or even the sort of information need seeking. However, there are certain standards which can be considered for customer portal strategies. Providing a help-yourself platform is merely one of the reasons for the Online Customer Portal.

1. Cost Effective

cost effective Why to incur a cost by hiring an assistant executive, when simple things can be simply updated by a Customer. Often any personal information that needs modifying, in a traditional system was usually done by Customer support team. With changing demands and time saving state, Customers are conscious to invest any amount of time talking to a Support exec and then undergo a certain process of verification. It’s vital to offer easy access to Customers, so they can take charge of their own information. Not only this saves time for the valuable customers, but also avoids any frustration and contributes in reducing the cost of Customer Service executives to the Business. Availability of information with quick search and easy access is directly proportionate to reduced volume of calls coming through there by optimizing the support cost.

2. Knowledge Hub

knowledge hub Customer engagement is key to happy customers for any Business be it Product or a Service based, hence it’s pretty imperative to maintain rich Customer Experience. If the information is cluttered across different locations, the Customer may get confused or even decide to opt out of the service. Essentially all the information a Customer might need, must be centralized and segmented. This enables the Customer to know where to find what they need and can access the necessary categories as per the needs. It is evident to have a one-stop-shop to buy in all the information.

3. Customer Relationship

customer relationship There has been a substantial shift pinnacle in Customer Relationship Management which has moved from Customer Satisfaction to Customer Delight, with the emerging technology. Increase in volume of Customer acquisition, relatively makes it difficult to manage and sustain the Customer Relationship. But this can be handled efficiently by adopting a robust Online Customer Portal which can scale the business yet handle the Customer Relationships effectively. An Online Customer Portal not just enables to maintain healthy Customer Relationship, but also gives you ability to develop proactive yet timely communication boosting the Customer Engagement, leaving a wide smile on Customer Experience.

4. Scale Business

scale business A robust Online Customer Portal contributes significantly to the growth of Business. A continuous consideration of Customer feedback cycle has always subsidized to shape up the Business. The data analytics on Customer engagement while they access information and the interaction with Online Customer Portal, brings in the weak elements of product/service to the surface. This highlights the focus area for the Business to align strategies for a much better and improved product/service.

Design your online customer portal

The decision to design an online customer portal must be a two-headed sword, which will certainly make Customers lives easy, but will also enable Business to optimize the operational overheads. The expected behavior of an online customer portal may vary for different organizations, depending on the line of products/services. However, there are few key elements that can be accounted for designing an effective online customer portal:

1. Community

community In the world of information, it is relatively possible to not have all the answers available even for FAQs. According to human psychology, an experience from others leaves a convincing situational answer. An open Forum shall prove to be a very effective platform for Customers from varied backgrounds to collaborate on Online Customer Portal. It is a must these days where existing, yet real time Customers have access to an open forum to share their questions or seek answers forming a strong community to stay abreast of any information they seek. This Community shall enable access to historic data as well. The offering of collaboration platform enables the Business to develop stronger Customer Relationships and strengthens the very basis of Customer Retention.

2. Findable

Your Online Customer Portal predominantly is the source of information to your customers; hence it is evident to enable Customers to have easy access to required information. The search index must be intelligent to fetch relevant results and must also have specific filters to narrow down the search results by relevance be it text-based content or a file. This truly helps Customers to easily walk through the blogs, articles, topics, support documents and any and every information related to your product/service/business.

3. Distinctive

Distinctive Customer support or seeking for information may vary based on the category of the product or line of service, which creates the need for categorizing the information specific to the target segment. Maintaining the distinction is absolutely important, to manage the information as per relevance making it a lot more easier for the Customer to access particular piece of information and have more clarity. The distinction of data is simply beyond the Customers and applies to the Business Users too. Hence, the clear objective is to design the Online Customer Portal such that it has a clear distinction by geography, line of service/ product and user role of the Business both internal and external.

4. Communication

communication Communication is a key driver of any business, and it plays a vital role to drive structural integrity of business effectively. An effective online Customer portal must have capability and a platform to establish, distribute and receive communication. A balanced multi-source communication (Blogs, Articles, Campaigns, Social Media platforms, and many) which is integrated with your online customer portal is sure to drive the Customer engagement and keep the communication proactive on all the fronts. Aggressive communication is much needed, this avoids the Customer diversion to other locations to seek similar set of information. Sharing the latest news or publishing blogs & articles in timely manner on the online customer portal is one of the effective ways to keep your Customer base intact and keeping them abreast of latest updates all the time.

Effective online customer portal

An effective online customer portal delivers a value beyond just reducing the support overheads, as it meaningfully contributes towards a richer customer experience when it comes to managing their personal information, accessing the information at anytime and from anywhere at tip of their fingers. While the online customer portal is more inclined towards Customer Relationship but it must also be a one-stop-shop which delivers value to both Customers as well as Business Users.