What Is Customer Portal

A customer self-service portal is a section of a company’s website. It provides customers with a single point of access to company/product information. Basic portals that do not require a customer login may offer only general information available to anyone. Such as; Knowledge Base articles, a FAQ page, video tutorials, etc. More advanced portals accessed via username and password are more secure. These enable businesses to share private, account-specific information with their customers.

For consumers, a customer portal is a one-stop-shop for online self-service support. Moreover, allowing them to get information at any time, and solve product/service issues on their own. Therefore, solving their issue without the need for a customer representative. It is a cost-effective way to support customers with relevant information. Thus, your customer support operates nonstop, when support agents are not available.  

What-is-a-customer portal-LiveAgent

The Rise of Customer Portals and Self-Service

Nowadays the consumers have become more self-reliant and prefer searching for information online before calling for support. The demand for self-service portals has dramatically risen in recent years. Below are some of the latest statistics proving that:

  • Knowledge Bases such as FAQs are the most frequently used self-service options available today. (Forrester)
  • 90% of global consumers expect brands and organizations to offer an online portal for self-service, while 74% have used it. (Microsoft
  • 98% of consumers have tried a self-service solution, including searching for a company’s FAQs, help center, or other online resources. (Dimensional Research)
  • 60% of the U.S consumers say that their go-to channel for simple customer support inquiries is a digital self-service tool. (American Express)
  • 86% of B2B executives prefer using self-service tools for reordering, rather than talking to a sales representative. (McKinsey)

Benefits of a Customer Self-Service Portal for Businesses

Improved customer satisfaction

Customer portals offer a seamless self-service and support experience by providing complete 24/7 access to relevant, up-to-date information. It includes everything customers need in one place. Thus, being able to find answers on their own, at times personally convenient for them. This makes it easy for consumers to search for the information they are seeking. This greatly improves customer satisfaction.

Increased customer engagement

Customer engagement can increase by creating a community forum. In the forum, customers can share with each other. For instance; discuss solutions, possible troubleshooting steps, as well as share their feedback, ideas, and suggestions. Customer portals provide them with a greater sense of involvement, increase engagement, and empowerment.

Reduced support agent workload 

Customer self-service portals help to reduce agent workload. Since customers can easily look up the status of their own tickets, agents don’t have to spend time answering questions like “What’s the status of my request?”. They can focus their efforts and attention on addressing more complicated queries instead of handling minor, repetitive issues. 

Reduced support volumes

By having a well-designed, easy to navigate customer portal with a solid Knowledge Base, FAQ section, and a well-connected community forum, businesses can reduce the overall number of incoming customer support requests. Because customers will be able to find the answers to their questions and resolve at least simple issues by themselves.

Lowered customer support costs

Implementing a customer portal requires a certain investment. But, it actually pays off in the long run as it helps to lower customer support costs for business. This way, customers can be in touch with a company out-of-hours. Thus, there is no need to allocate additional resources to extend working hours or hire more support employees.

Basic Customer Self-Service Portal Elements

Knowledgebase 

A Knowledge Base is a collection of content containing all the relevant information about a company’s products/services. It is usually organized into an easily searchable series of articles. Those could include getting started guides, how-to articles, troubleshooting tips, and any other helpful/valuable information. Most portals will have a search bar at the top for easy navigation across the content.

FAQ

An FAQ is a list of frequently asked questions about a company’s products, services, and policies. It is a section where you address the most common concerns, questions, and objections that customers might have. FAQs can also include links to the relevant articles in the Knowledge Base, blog posts, or video tutorials. Generally, FAQs cover less amount of information than a Knowledge Base.

Video Tutorials

69% of users prefer watching videos to learn about a product or service. Thus, making video tutorials is a valuable part of a business’s self-service offering. Consumers usually find video tutorials easier to understand, quicker to consume and more engaging. Therefore, creating comprehensive, video-based self-service can greatly improve customer experience.

Community Forums

User forums or community forums are an important element of a self-service portal that is increasingly expected by consumers. They enable customers to interact/help each other, ask and answer each other questions, share knowledge/insights. While monitoring those conversations service agents can step in when necessary and offer timely assistance.

Feedback and Suggestions

The feature allows collecting customer feedback and encourages customers to send their suggestions for future product/service improvements. Moreover, even vote for existing suggestions as well as track the progress of their implementation. Customers’ ideas can be discussed on a feedback forum providing businesses with valuable customer insights.

Ticket Submission

If all else fails, customers should still be able to reach out by submitting a support request. This enables a smooth transaction between searching for help themselves and contacting a company representative. With that option, customers can manage their expectations by viewing the status of their tickets at any time.

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