4 reasons customer portals drive business (part 2)

Most organizations are constantly looking for areas to expand, improve, and stand out. Companies have to tackle omni-channel marketing and face the highest customer expectations in modern history.

Given the fact that Millennials now have the most spending power of any generation (Source: Bazaar, BCG, & Oracle), a digital-first mindset is a requirement for any marketeer worth their salt. In our last blog we looked at the impact of customer portals on customer intimacy and loyalty. Today we’ll shine a light on how a connected portal can offer you business insights and improve customer support.

3. Business Intelligence

There are tremendous opportunities for organizations to harness their customer data to acquire business insights. Forrester (source) predicts that 70% of enterprises will implement (some form of) AI by the end of 2018! However, a lot of companies struggle with effectively leveraging customer data. Meanwhile they often overlook the treasure trove of data from their customer portals!

I mean, think about it, you probably have data floating somewhere that can answer the following questions: What are customers looking for? Which questions do they ask your chatbots? Are your efforts to boost customer intimacy and retention paying off? Do they utilize the customer insight tools you offer them? What kind of additional services/products are they checking out? Are we sending them tailored promotions for these services/products? Etc.

If done right, customer portals allow you to:

  • Spot customer behavior patterns that can help with segmentation
  • Gather valuable customer data that you can use for up- and cross-selling
  • See if your efforts to improve customer retention and satisfaction are paying off
  • Shape and improve your business model based on real-life customer data

To recap: Every organization that wants to improve customer experience, targeting, and retention should consider deploying a connected customer portal. The data and business insights you gain can be invaluable. For any organization or business that wants to survive in the 21st century, measuring and analyzing the right data are key to success! Should you struggle with these challenges our data engineering team is at your service.

4. Customer Support

We already touched upon self-service offerings in part 1 of our blog. However we did not delve into the ways your portal can assist customers who need help. Salesforce’s research paper, State of the Connected Customer, found that 59% of consumers and 71% of business buyers say
self-service availability has a major-to-moderate impact on their loyalty! So if you are not yet convinced by the previous 3 reasons why a modern user portal is necessary, this one may do the trick.

Once you’ve acquired a new customer, how does the customer journey continue? What happens when a customer wants to use more self-service than you are offering, or what if your portal is confusing the client? Don’t give up! If you’ve done it right then you have already built trust and intimacy through your portal. You have shown them valuable insights into where they are and you have improved business intelligence because of the customer’s data.

The most important thing left is to make your customer support shine by aligning your business processes. Stellar customer support helps businesses improve retention & loyalty. But where do you start? First of all you should zoom out and think about the way you currently handle support requests. Map out the flow from first-, to second-, and third-line support. Look at statistics and data-flows. Are you sure your support team knows all about your customer whenever they contact you? Which support tickets stayed open for more than a few days the past year?

Once you’ve identified the lifecycle of different types of support requests you can begin building. The end goal should be to make the experience frictionless for your customers. When they have an issue or need to get an answer they want to be helped ASAP (how would you be?). There is a lot of information available if you search about industry best practices for great support, so we won’t go into too much detail here. One thing we do want to touch upon is the fact that your ‘Customer Support Section’ should be embedded in your customer portal. Your portal is your one-stop-shop where a customer should get an answer to all their questions in a few clicks/taps.

So how can you provide fast and accurate responses? Begin with Artificial Intelligence applications such as interactive support (chat)bots that can handle most first-line requests. This will free up your support staff to handle the challenging cases where human help and knowledge is required. Great self-service capabilities also let customers fix issues for which they used to contact support or sales: update billing details, check usage, order additional products/services, searching through payment histories, etc.

To sum up, a modern customer portal should:

  • Help you to improve the support experience by offering insights into the process (where do people click most often, what keywords do they use in search, etc.)
  • Offload work from your support professionals by making bots handle most (if not all) of the basic support requests and questions
  • Shorten lead times and support proper human routing if challenged with high volumes of support
  • Avoid support ticket creation by allowing customers to self-serve most of their requests

Why should you update your customer portal?

We listed four big areas where customer portals can increase sales by improving customer loyalty and retention. Some people may read our blog and say: “That’s great, we already have a portal, just update the look and we’re done!” Sadly we want to dispel the notion that this will help your organization in the long run. A lot of legacy systems and customer portals are set-up in a transactional way. They are not designed for building relationships or with the customer experience in mind. This report by Salesforce.com is a great read!

So if you revamp your existing customer portal, or if you create one from scratch, always keep the customer in mind. The extra efforts to provide a connected and personalized experience will pay off in the long run by providing you with more loyal customers that will conduct more business with you. As an added bonus you will gain very valuable insights allowing you to improve customer support, and to improve efficiency of your knowledge workers in sales and support.

This is a daunting task for sure! Luckily our experts have a lot of experience with such projects and we will gladly help you out, so get in touch!

Written by Sebastiaan Mindreau, Lead Strategist Digital at LoQutus.
Edited by Dries Lamont, Marketing Manager at LoQutus and Ground lion.