Client portals allow for a greater two-way flow of information and collaboration for organizations looking to build stronger relationships with their clients, customers or partners. Client portals can also give companies a significant competitive edge by saving money through reduced overheads and streamlined business processes. In this article, we offer three compelling reasons as to why your business needs to introduce a client portal.
What Are Client Portals?
Also sometimes known as extranets, client portals are intranets that are partially accessible to authorized persons outside of a company or organization. So with a client portal, specified company information, data and applications are made available to clients, customers, and partners.
Businesses have for many years been enjoying the benefits of a company intranet in terms of improved internal communications and joint working. And increasingly, they have realized that these benefits can be enhanced by enabling external clients and partners to access parts of the company intranet through a client portal.
Reasons To Implement A Client Portal
So if you are not already convinced of the case for a client portal, here are three reasons that may help your thinking.
1. Increase Your Productivity
Automating and streamlining business processes can increase your bottom dollar. Just as the intranet will have done just that to your internal business functions, so the client portal will for your external ones.
Important information such as contracts, proposals, quotes or project plans can be accessed via the client portal by both internal staff and external partners and customers, thereby providing a single source of truth. No longer will they get lost in the mail or in the sea of email traffic. And the margin of error will be reduced as the intranet will have the most up-to-date version of those important documents.
In addition, tasks that were previously completed manually can now be automated. So placing orders with suppliers, for example, can be accomplished through the client portal rather than by phone or email.
2. Improved Customer Loyalty
Making timely, accurate information available to your customers and being seen to be responsive to clients’ needs makes it more likely that you will retain the customer’s business.
Centrally located online forms in the client portal such as contact us, support requests, requests for quotes, acceptance of quotes or work orders and so on, make it much easier for the customer to do business with you rather than your competitors.
The emailed newsletter is now an outdated mode of communication. Instead, a shared news page on the client portal will allow you to keep abreast of relevant news from your client and vice versa.
Also, the client portal enables the much quicker dissemination of information and news about new products or current projects out to clients and customers. Taking new products to market, therefore, becomes a much more streamlined process. You can also invite customers and clients to propose product enhancements or amendments through a discussion forum, which in turn, can inform your R&D processes.
3. Increased Responsiveness
Granting direct access to applications and information for customers and clients improves flexibility and responsiveness for you and your partners.
Customers will be able to interact with you outside of standard business hours at a time that suits them. Likewise, collaborative working with clients and partners is made easier as everyone can operate when and where it’s most convenient for them. Time and resources will be saved as there will no longer be the need for long, face-to-face meetings involving lots of personnel. Instead, those personnel will be able to log on to the client portal and work in the collaborative project space at a time that is best suited to them. A useful by-product of shared project spaces on the client portal is that improved oversight and visibility is provided for all involved. And given that many clients can be spread over large geographical areas and multiple time zones, this ability is a great bonus.
Key staff contact lists for both organizations and shared calendars for events, key milestones or deadlines are additional tools that can enhance flexibility and responsiveness in your working relationships with partners.
Advantages Of Cloud-Based Client Portals
Some organizations will have been put off introducing a client portal because of concerns around ensuring the security of sensitive data and company information once external access to the intranet is granted. However, cloud-based client portals use the very latest security technology to protect the integrity of your company’s information and data. Firewalls, SSL encryption, VPN, and virus protection are all weapons within the arsenal of security measures available to cloud providers. Also, cloud providers have the expertise and knowledge to stay one step ahead of hackers and intruders. Indeed their reputations depend on it.
Ensuring that the right personnel are accessing the right information is guaranteed through a system of different access levels and site permissions. Access can be limited to a particular area of the client portal so that the individual can only view the data that you want them to see and that is relevant to them.
Other organizations have been put off by the perceived costs of implementing a client portal. And it is true that if you have a bespoke intranet and on-premises server, there will be additional costs in setting up a client portal in terms of hardware, software, setup and training. Choose a cloud provider and you will have none of these initial set up costs. You will be using an easily customizable template developed by the cloud provider that can be adapted to meet the needs of your organization. There is no software or hardware to download and install and no server to maintain. All costs are covered in a fixed monthly fee so there will be no unexpected expenditure. What’s more, the right provider will allow you to have one portal that serves many clients and the ability to build secure pages for each client.
Get In Touch
So if you want to improve communication and collaboration, enhance your responsiveness and maintain a competitive edge with a cost-effective solution, then you should be considering introducing a client portal. Contact the team at MyHub today to see what a difference a cloud client portal could make to your business.