Imagine that you just bought a new pair of pants online. However, right after submitting your purchase, you realize that you put in the wrong shipping address. So, you call the company's customer service team and are put on a 20-minute hold.
When you finally get through, the rep quickly clears up the issue and you're off the phone in seconds. But, as soon as you hang up, you realize that you ordered the pants in the wrong size! Now you have to go back and repeat the process for another simple change.
Or, so you thought. Before customer portal software, your only option would be to make another call or send an email. Now, you can update and monitor inquiries using a self-service interface. That way, basic updates and questions can be resolved without a customer service rep.
Customer portal software relieves pressure on your service teams and provides more convenience to your customers. In this post, let's review the key features that you should be looking for when adopting this tool.
Customer Portal Software
Customer portals are accessed without passing through a service employee. This allows customers to perform self-service functions, such as checking ticket status, connecting with other users, and reading FAQ pages and knowledge base articles.
Customer portal software can be described as a customer-facing help desk. It combines a ticketing system, knowledge base, and community forums all into one place. If a customer has a quick question, they don't need to pick up the phone or write an email. Instead, they can log in to their portal and all information about their service inquiry will be listed there.
Benefits of Customer Portal Software
Customer portal software gives more power to the customer. They can keep track of support requests and read through recorded conversations with service reps. With this system, customers can complete the entire ticketing process from submitting tickets to receiving responses.
Customer portals also offer security. The only people who can access a portal are the customer and relevant support reps. This ensures that a customer's files and account information are protected through encryption.
Lastly, these portals help customers accomplish tasks and get answers without relying on others. This teaches them to troubleshoot issues independently and contact customer support teams when problems become complex. Under this approach, support teams receive fewer tickets letting them respond to customers faster.
When choosing customer portal software, you should look for the features listed below.
5 Customer Portal Software Features
1. Creates Knowledge Bases
Every customer portal software should be able to create a knowledge base. When brainstorming topics to cover, look at the tickets you received from customers. When a customer asks you to solve an issue that's not covered in your knowledge base, record your troubleshooting steps then upload them in. Keep an eye on your articles and always revise information that's inaccurate or outdated.
You can also create an internal knowledge base for your service agents. This resource can act as a reference point when researching solutions for customers. Rather than spreading information out, internal knowledge bases group it together, avoiding data silos and making solutions easy to find.
2. Includes Community Forums
Community forums are another feature that can save your agents time. In this section of your portal, customers help each other by publicly posting questions and solutions. This can reveal unique workarounds and tips that your team may not be aware of.
One example of a successful community forum is the Official Apple Support Community. As an owner of several Apple products, I'm constantly in need of troubleshooting tricks and tips. Turning to other users is always helpful as they've experienced similar problems and have fixed them on their own.
3. Provides Omni-Channel Support
It's important to communicate with customers through their preferred channel. Having a customer portal that's only accessible on a desktop is no longer effective. So, be sure to consider software that has mobile-friendly browsers and apps.
One channel that your software should include is a live chat feature. That way, if customers have questions about the interface, they can quickly contact your support team. Consider devoting a group of reps to this channel so they can deflect fundamental service questions away from your primary support team.
4. Supports App Integration
Your support process will become more efficient if your portal can integrate with other apps. After all, as strong as the software is, it can't perform every task that you expect from it.
App integrations solve this problem. Some types of apps you might want to integrate are calendar, scheduling, productivity, finance, and social media apps.
5. Features a User-Friendly Design
Since customer portal software is made for your customers, it should be designed for them, not your team. So, when selecting a customer portal, make sure it fits your customers' needs. This means an easy-to-use interface and service options that are clear and intuitive.
Customization can take your design to the next level and you should customize the interface based on customer preferences. Or, give your users the option to customize their own portal with built-in design features.
For more useful service tools, read this list of customer support resources.
Originally published Sep 10, 2019 8:00:00 AM, updated June 09 2021