For many businesses the lure of a self service customer portal lies in the fact that such portals save costs. Customers can access knowledge base or FAQs and get answers to their queries on their own, get info on all the relevant product and service, all without the involvement of any company staff. Even for complaints, customers can raise tickets on their own and only the concerned people need to get involved to service the complaints. No need for call center, irate customers calls or emails, etc.
But used effectively with proper features and integrations (for example with CRM), can convert such portals into productivity tools that not only save costs but also generate revenue.
So What is a Self Service Customer Portal?
A self Service customer portal is a website that enables website users (customer and other stakeholders) to perform business related transactions on their own – from ordering a new product to raising a complaint.
Why is Such a Customer Portal Beneficial?
Given below are a few reasons why self service customer portals are valuable for businesses.
- Bring Down Operational Costs
As explained above, such portals are a great cost cutting tool. Across industries, empowering customers to do stuff on their own without any manual involvement has been a great way to cut costs.
- Empower Customers With Knowledge
Self service portals not only solve the current problems of the customers, but also equip them with enough knowledge to solve their future queries as well. A well documented knowledge base goes a long way in preventing any future complaints or issues because the customers already have answers to their questions.
- Create a Close Knit Community
Opening a forum in the portal can create a very useful community where customers can help each other on their own without the involvement of any company employee. Not only does it solve issues, but also creates bonding amongst the members.
- Create a Personalized Experience
The usage patterns of customers can be easily tracked in the customer portal and combined with their personal info, a personalized portal experience can be provided to them. For example, the sections of the portal that is most relevant to the customer can be presented upfront along with greetings for important days like birthday, marriage anniversary, etc. Such small measures can go a long way in creating a “wow” experience for customers.
- Get More Customer Recommendations
Satisfied customers will go out of their way in recommending products and services to other customers. A successful customer portal will enhance you brand image and create positive vibes.
- Cross-Selling/Up-Selling Opportunity
Based on the customers’ previous interactions, products or services matching their requirements can be presented to them in the portal. Thus creating avenues for cross-selling and up-selling.
What Does The Future Hold for Self-Service Customer Portals?
Like everything going mobile, mobile enabled self service portals are definitely on the rise and the trend is not going to stop anytime soon. Mobile usability gives customers the power to get their concerns serviced anytime, anywhere.
Like mobile-ready portals, social computing and user-generated content is another area that will determine the future of such portals. Now it’s not enough to just provide a knowledge base in the portal, the future is about empowering customers to add their own content and collaborate with the community to create content wikis and add to the flexibility in the user experience of the portal.