The ways in which businesses connect with and serve clients are changing. The digital world has transformed consumers’ expectations. Immediate, all-hours and personalized interactions are now the order of the day, but is your company really geared up for this changing environment? Nowadays, having a website and a Facebook page is not enough to maintain a competitive edge. Increasingly, businesses are discovering that client portals provide opportunities for customers to receive personalized self-service information when it’s convenient for them. Client portals have the potential to be a very important connection point between you and your customers. In this post, we look at the value-added potential of a client portal.
What Is A Client Portal?
Just in case you’re not familiar with the concept of a client portal, let’s first define exactly what we mean. If you use online banking or online shopping, then you may not have realized it, but you’ve been utilizing a client portal. A client portal is essentially an electronic gateway allowing companies to securely share information and data with clients via the Internet. In some cases, companies can use their intranet with access controlled through a series of site permissions so that the client is restricted to only those parts of the intranet that are relevant to them. This has the added benefit associated with using a central application used by both internal and external users.
From shopping and insurance through to healthcare, law, banking and finance, many businesses have been using client portals to build deeper connection points with their clients. The great advantage of having a client portal is that it gives clients the freedom to interact with you when and how they want. Traditionally, personalized service would have been achieved through face-to-face contact or over the phone. However, with changing customer expectations and the fast-paced, technology-driven world that we now live in, many businesses are looking at new ways to interact with customers and client portals are an excellent example of this sort of innovation.
But what’s so good about client portals? What difference will it make to my business? We’re only a small company and this all sounds too much like hard work.
If these sorts of questions and issues have been whizzing around in your head as you’ve been reading, then you’re in good company as they are common concerns. We will now address these issues by presenting three reasons as to why a client portal is a good idea even for smaller business.
A client portal is incredibly convenient for your customers. As it’s based in the cloud, the portal is accessible anytime and anywhere via an internet connection. Clients can locate information and content, upload orders and service requests, submit invoices and remittance and view their order history with a few clicks of the mouse and at a time and location that suits them – even when stretched out on the couch on a Saturday afternoon. Not only is this self-service approach enormously convenient for them, but it also reduces the demands on your customer service personnel who otherwise would be spending their valuable time on responding to requests from clients.
Better Connections With Clients
The great beauty of the client portal is the scope it provides for personalized customer experiences. One of the reasons why we keep going back to companies such as Amazon and iTunes is because they almost intuitively know what we are looking for and even anticipate our needs. Now that level of scrutiny may be beyond the average company, but it is entirely possible to deliver via the client portal exclusive marketing and deals to customers, special PR events and product promotions, as well as customized news feeds that reflect their interests and preferences.
What’s more, if relevant and appropriate, the client portal is a great way to promote two-way conversations with clients either through blogs, surveys or project updates and pages.
And providing clients with access to timely, accurate information as well as better and more responsive services has the added benefit of increasing customer loyalty. The truth is you will be more likely to attract and retain a loyal customer base with a client portal.
The client portal, therefore, offers the possibility of real interaction with clients rather than just the passive passage of information. You will be able to cultivate new and improved relationships with your clients who will love the opportunities for improved service delivery that the portal offers.
Secure Transfer Of Data
Another great advantage of the client portal is that it allows for the safe and secure transfer of data between you and your clients. No longer will you need to rely on USB drives or external file storage services such as Dropbox. Using a secure login and the very latest internet-standard data encryption technology, both you and your clients can have absolute confidence that the data is being handled as securely as possible. And so, for example, a firm of accountants can securely send a client’s tax return through the client portal. And the client then simply signs it and copies it directly into the portal’s document management system. The client can retrieve the final tax return anytime they like directly from the portal. Likewise, commercially sensitive information that you would not want shared in the public domain such as tenders, contracts and agreements can safely and securely be shared with your selected clients through the portal.
Clients Portals: Providing Enhanced Customer Experiences
The bottom line is that a client portal will help you to provide enhanced and more responsive customer experiences. In today’s highly competitive marketplace this represents a huge advantage over the competition. Your clients will be able to connect and interact with your business even outside of standard office hours and at the weekend.
What’s more, the client portal can easily be customized with your company logo and colors so that it feels like a natural extension of your existing website and brand.
And all of this is easily achievable via your existing company intranet, making it a very cost-effective, easily implemented solution.
Do you want to provide an enhanced experience to your clients? Do you want to build profitable relationships with customers? Then get in touch with us at MyHub for a free consultation on implementing a client portal.