People don’t like having to solve riddles. It’s fun in the context of an escape room or a brain teaser, but in the context of trying to figure out how to pay a bill, riddles are infuriating.
It’s a common experience to most of us, trying to figure out where on a company's website any of the useful features exist to accomplish one task, but the labyrinthine structure of the site makes this task take far longer than it should.
Enter The Customer Portal
A well-designed customer portal changes the game. It’s an access point that gives customers all necessary functions in an easy-to-understand user interface.
It could be on a website or through an app, but the important thing is that it’s accessible. The customer portal is available 24/7/365 and can be used on a computer, tablet, phone, or other mobile devices.
Why Is a Customer Portal Important?
In addition to improving the customer experience, it makes a company's life easier, too. The customer portal eliminates a lot of back-end data entry and customer processing.
Instead of the customer calling a phone line and giving payment information, the customer can enter their information into the portal and store it for future or recurring purchases.
Streamlining the customer experience by reducing the number of steps required to reach what they want keeps them happy and coming back. Even a few extra button presses on a website considerably undercut customer satisfaction and usability.
Plus, if you’re using ERP software like Acumatica, you can use customer information gleaned through the portal to refine and improve the experience.
Essential Features of a Customer Portal
Not every customer portal needs to be exactly the same, of course. Businesses differ in what their customers require of them, but some common features include:
1. Order Management
In the customer portal, the customer should be able to place an order, track it, and make changes to it.
2. Make Payments
Making bill payments is a basic function, and it can be expanded to improve customer relationships. Adding information storage (securely, of course), setting up recurring payments, and access to account statements give more control and convenience.
On the company's end, it’s simple to program the portal to refer to the customer by name. For the customer, the portal could prioritize commonly used features on a home page and hide ones that are never used.
4. Track Deliveries
Customers want to know when their products are being delivered. Giving them the ability to see where their deliveries are develops trust with the business.
5. Customer Service
Unfortunately, no business is perfect. Making it easy to find where to send in questions and complaints makes the customer feel valued. If there’s no place to make comments, the customer may not stick around.
Make It Secure
Speaking of customer trust, customers want to trust that their information is safe in your hands. There need to be layers of authentication for them to sign in, and the portal should have many safety features:
- Use IP Whitelists
- Set up Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocols
- Enable HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS)
- Enforce Single Sign-On
- Set a Password Expiration (set your own timeline, 30 days is common)
- Use Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP)
If there ever is a security breach, you will need to let customers know the severity of the breach and what you’re doing to fix it.
Make It Work
Test, test, test. Few things are more frustrating than a customer portal that doesn’t work. Every operation needs to be tested to ensure that once customers are using the portal, it will reward them with a smooth experience. The portal should be increasing responsiveness, not reducing it!
Check out our customer portal demo to learn more:
Enhance Customer Portals with Acumatica and Cloud 9 ERP Solutions
Customer data will help you refine your customer portal, but it must be fresh, relevant data. When you use Acumatica ERP software, that’s exactly what you get! Real-time, up-to-date, valid data that can guide your design choices.
Our customer, Panda Kitchen and Bath, uses the Acumatica Customer Portal to allow B2B customers to place orders online. Now easily processing more than 5,000 online orders per day, the Acumatica software enables them to increase their eCommerce sales and keep customers happy.
“The Customer Portal is going to quickly become our ‘Go-To’… more and more people want that kind of access and speed…‘Speed’ is the new ‘Service’ word. With the help of our Acumatica Partner, Cloud 9 ERP Solutions, we plan for 80-90% of our orders to come from the Customer Portal…” - Edgar Polo, General Manager, Panda Kitchen and Bath
When you trust Cloud 9 ERP Solutions, you’re trusting a Gold-Certified Acumatica Partner to provide you with a business-transforming experience. We’re passionate about Acumatica and can optimize it for you! Contact Cloud 9 ERP Solutions today and keep customers coming back for more.