The vast majority have used some form of customer portal. Perhaps it is like a bank customer, an electricity supplier or even at work when they want to communicate with their supplier. At the same time, the number of companies that introduce customer portals in B2B is increasing, which increases the pressure to keep up with developments. Continuing to be relevant as a supplier to their customers is something that is high on the agenda for most companies.
But making an investment requires that you first define the purpose and what goals you expect the investment to result in. Below are described 7 effect goals that are achieved with the introduction of a customer portal for operations with recurring corporate customers.
#1 Reduced time spent by staff
How long does it take to answer a call or email from a customer asking questions about common things such as; copy of latest invoice, when will my delivery, which is the latest version of specification and can i get a copy of it etc.?
The answer is that it takes longer than you think!
In order to channel incoming issues, the company must make a balance between appointing several project managers, customer service personnel or the like. Alternatively, let staff who have other primary tasks, such as sellers, handle customer issues.
The problem is not just the time spent on the answer itself, but it causes constant interruptions that make the staff perform worse. A salesperson who needs to interrupt his work, to respond to delivery or invoice issues, is something that gives a significantly poorer performance in what is the person's actual task.
With a customer portal, the customer has access to all relevant information without having to get help from the company's staff. This self-service allows the staff to focus on more value-creating activities.
#2 Reduced time spent by customers
Self-service not only saves internal time. It also saves the customer's time!
If the customer emails their questions, they need to wait for the answer, which often causes frustration and a feeling of being fragmented. Therefore, the person may choose to make a call to ask their question. The latter then places great demands on staff density so that the customer don´t risk ending up in a telephone queue or having to wait until the staff is back from lunch.
In the same way that an efficient work is important for your company's results, it is equally important for the customer that their work can be done efficiently. If communication with you as a supplier steals time from the customer it reduces their efficiency, which means that you lose directly or indirectly the customer's appreciation.
Being the supplier who is easy to work with (which at the same time can keep a relevant pricing because they themselves work efficiently) is what customers perceive as something that often is more important as a competitive advantage than both prices and details about product / service.
#3 Extended availability
Do you want customer service manned around the clock? Should salespeople and project managers have to answer their mobile phone 24 hours a day?
If you want the customers to perceive you as easily accessible then limited opening hours and telephone hours are something that works in the opposite direction. With a customer portal, you can really be available to customers during all hours of the day.
Even if the customer cannot get answers to all their questions when you are not in place, they can register their question in the customer portal so that you can pick up the case as soon as you have the opportunity. The customer can access the answer when it is appropriate and the communication can run smoothly.
Often, a question is something that affects several people at the customers side. In that case, it is an important detail that all contact persons at the customer can always have access to the same information. You are not only available to the customer's purchasers but also for the recipients of your products / services, the manager, the finance department, etc. This accessibility in the form of a customer portal gives the company the opportunity of a digital customer care where the customer always has access to you.
#4 Extended contact surface
Who is your customer? Is it the user of your products / services or the purchasing manager, or are there other people at the customer that you should have a contact with?
Maintaining the contact area with existing customers is important. Therefore, many companies in B2B roles have such as customer managers or KAM. But it is nevertheless difficult to keep the contact area wide and updated if the company has many customers. To conduct personal meetings also with the smaller customers might be difficult to recoup financially.
Even with the larger, and perhaps more important, customers, it is often difficult to maintain an updated broad contact surface. Customers do not always find it equally important to work on maintaining the relationship, as their work consists of so many other relationships than the one with you as a supplier.
With a customer portal where the customer can add new users and maintain their own information, the contact surface with the customer is automatically extended to the people who have an interest in your company. In addition to the fact that all persons at the customer have access to up-to-date information, they have easy access to you. Because all the customer's contact persons know how to get in touch with you and that you at the same time know who they are, you get a larger contact area that is not as sensitive. When the customer's staff is replaced over time, the customer portal can be the tool that ensures continuity.
#5 Brand building
Investing in building the company's brand is important. Much energy is often put to the company's website, sales material and other marketing. Once the company has become a customer, it is equally important to continue to show how easy it is to do business with you, which is best done by proving it in action. With the information and routines in the customer portal you show that it is easy to work with you.
At the same time, you have the opportunity to spread information to the customer about how they best use your products / services. Let the customer portal be the channel that your existing customers go to both to get support and to find tips and inspiration in your area.
Being a company that focuses on customer care with efficient, modern tools builds the company's brand. Regardless of whether you are in a traditional industry or in the latest cutting-edge technology area, it is important to show that the company is involved in the development when it comes to modern customer care.
Satisfied customers are required to remain loyal customers. It is important to measure customer satisfaction and customer loyalty, which the customer portal can facilitate. At the same time, the customer portal becomes a tool for creating this particular customer satisfaction.
#6 Increased sales to existing customers
Do you have several different business areas or product groups? Do all customers buy from your entire range?
With a customer portal where the customer is often in for performing actions or seeking information, you get a unique good opportunity to spread information. By informing about how the customer best uses your products / services and how these can be combined, you get the opportunity to continuously educate the customer within your particular area.
When the customer then needs your other products / services, it is natural that you have the opportunity to sell them as you are the expert who informed them.
#7 Reduced churn, less loss of customers
Getting new customers is expensive. Keeping customers longer means that CLV (Customer Lifetime Value) is increasing, which consequently leads to increased profitability.
Is it possible to recoup a customer portal only in terms of saved labor costs? Absolutely.
But if you take into account that it will be easier to attract new customers as you can describe your effective working method and that the cost of acquiring new customers spread with extended earnings per customer, it becomes very easy recoup an investment.
How to get a customer portal?
With Bizzjoiner you do not need to carry out a development project to introduce a customer portal. Bizzjoiner is a Saas solution that provides essential customer portal functionality right from the start.
In Bizzjoiner you have the functions that facilitate the cooperation between you and your customers and you add the applications that are unique to your particular business. Bizzjoiner is also linked to your business solutions, so you get an integrated customer portal where customers have access to updated information without you having to do extra work.