What is a Customer Portal?

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What is a Customer Portal?

A customer web portal is a secure website that provides your customers with a single point of access to company information that is relevant to them, such as policies, invoices, deliveries, orders and online payments. A customer portal is available 24/7, 365 days a year on a desktop or mobile device such as a tablet, laptop or smartphone.

The most common customer portal benefits include increased customer satisfaction, improved communication, the removal of costly, non-value adding data entry and, if you’re processing online payments, stronger cash flow. Client portals can also be integrated with your primary business systems such as an accounting, ERP or CRM system, enabling you to automate the transfer of information between your systems in real time. A customer web portal will help your employees and customers access and update relevant information quickly and efficiently.

Does your business need a Self-Service Customer Portal?

With web portals being available 24/7, a customer portal is fast becoming a preferred option for customers to interact with a business. Customers prefer to gather information and solve a product or service issue on their own, or at a time that is convenient for them. A customer self-service portal provides a secure place for customers to manage and review documents and policies, invoices, place an order, raise a support issue or arrange payments to improve customer collaboration. Key points that may indicate the need for customer portal solutions include:

  • Share and exchange relevant documentation e.g. welcome packs, policies
  • Extend customer support services without recruiting further employees by allowing customers to raise issues and track support tickets
  • Improve access to invoices and quotes
  • Allow customers to arrange online payments
  • Issue customer invoices
  • Order placement including the ability to track deliveries

Customer Portal Features

The criteria for your self-service client portal will vary depending on your exact business use and requirements. When identifying which client portal software to use it is best to look for portal software that is easy to deploy and customise. A selection of customer portal features to look out for include:

  • Secure 24/7 self-service from desktop and mobile devices
  • Order placement and management
  • Ability to customise and add your own company branding
  • Access to statements and online payments
  • Support for multi-currency and high load volumes
  • Easy to embed into company websites
  • Credit memos and deliveries
  • Ability to read/write information and custom CSS style options
  • Market proven experience in multiple primary business systems for easy data integration e.g. SAP, Sage, Microsoft Dynamics etc.

For further information on identifying a web portal development solution to work with, read this article.

A Secure Customer Portal

A market-proven online customer portal should provide your organisation with multiple, flexible levels of authentication and security. This will help you to define how your customers will access information and how they are recognised. Your customer information portal should include the following security and authentication features:

  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)
  • Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS)
  • Single Sign-On
  • Password Expiration Policies
  • LDAP
  • IP Whitelists

Customer Portal Benefits

One of the advantages of a customer web portal is that customers can contact a business out-of-hours when it best suits them. It means that an organisation doesn’t have to find additional resources to extend working hours and increase employee numbers. It helps to maintain customer experience by helping customers to access relevant information, reducing the number of inbound support calls and enquiries. Common customer portal benefits include:

  • Improved visibility and access to real-time information 24/7, 365 days a year
  • Increase in company cash flow by making it easier for customers to make payments online
  • Removal of costly, non-value adding data entry tasks
  • Improved customer experience and retention levels
  • Enhanced visibility of transactional information
  • Scalable IT licensing options
  • Reduced internal email traffic to source information
  • Improved internal and customer communication

For more information on how to plan, build and deploy your web portal, download the Quick Start Guide below or call us on +44 (0)330 99 88 700.

Quick Start Guide: Planning Portal Software Implementation

Quick Start Guide: Planning Portal Software Implementation

Learn about web portals and how to plan the development and implementation of your portal software to ensure it is delivered on time and within budget.

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