4 Reasons customer portals drive business (part 1)

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 this blog post, we’ll look at how connected portals can drive customer intimacy & improve customer loyalty. In part 2 of this series, we'll shine a light on how a connected portal offers business insights and can improve customer support.

1. Customer Intimacy

Customer portals have the ability to provide intimacy. Whereas ads & campaigns increase your brand recognition, a customer portal is the place where the customer comes to you! While you normally have to struggle for their attention, you have it when they use your portal.

Therefore it is of the utmost importance to make every interaction with your company a familiar and worthwhile experience. Often small things can make all the difference: for example a support message asking them what’s a good time for a callback outside of office hours if they didn’t pick up the phone. Naming chatbots you put in place to help your customers will also go a long way!

Every time a customer engages with your brand should be a positive experience. Repeat this a few times and you will foster a degree ‘intimacy’. Over time the customer gets to know your brand and what it stands for. In the end you want your customers to inject your brand into their daily lives, either because they need to, or because they want to.

When (re)designing your customer portal, you shouldn’t forget your prospects. Let them have a taste of what your premium customers experience through trials, promotions, or even a section on your customer portal dedicated just for them. Make them feel part of the family and take your time to build a connection with them.

When designed with care, connected customer portals have the potential to:

  • Foster customer intimacy by repeatedly delivering a superior customer experience
  • Empower your customers to self-serve their needs anytime, anyplace; allowing your brand to become a part of their life
  • Turn your loyal customers into ambassadors for your brand

2. Customer Insights

These days customers want to be able to sort out things at their own pace. Whether they’d like to check their data usage, download invoices, change subscription plans, or open a new bank account, they want this now. Customer portals offer a unique way of having customers self-service their needs at a time of their choosing.

As you may know, self-service offerings are nothing new, but they are evolving over time. For example banks used ATMs to offer self-service transactions the past decades. Now they are shifting towards real customer portals: home-banking websites & mobile apps.

You can even take it a step further and use your customer’s data to help them. Let them interact with the information you provide them. Let them experiment to show them how they can realize their goals. In return this will foster customer loyalty in the long run.

For example: my electricity provider offers me interactive tools suggesting ways to cut down on our electricity utilization. Thanks to data provided by the customer such as the current energy rating of appliances, types of heating & air-conditioning, number of rooms, etc. they let you calculate potential savings. Even though I could easily switch plans to a competitor that’s a bit cheaper, I won’t. Because I like their interactive tools that help me improve my energy footprint and lower my bill.

This is a great example of a company putting the customers goals (use less electricity) before short-term company goals (get people to use more electricity). In the long run this benefits both the customer (lower bills) and the company (increased loyalty).

Chatbots can also use customer insights to suggest new products or services, and to help with those first-line support requests.

Keeping this in mind, connected customer portals should aim to:

  • Tap into real-time data streams & business systems to offer relevant information, suggestions, and help to your customers
  • Show detailed and insightful analytics for your customers. This includes information like service usage, relevant offers, invoices, and even tips & tricks
  • Free up sales & support resources, by allowing customers to access information and act upon it without human intervention, except when the customer requires help.

If you're interested in reading more about this then this e-book by Salesforce.com is worth checking out! Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog the coming weeks.

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