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What is a Customer Portal and How Does It Help Your Customers?

May 25, 2021 | Read: 8 minutes

What is a customer portal, exactly?

There are those of you who will already know, but you might not know why it’s essential.

If you’re looking for a one-stop solution that gives customers a convenient way to access their data, you need a customer portal.


Below, we’ll explain all you need to know about what a customer portal is and how it can help your business:


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What is a Customer Portal?

A Customer Portal is a simple tool, but one whose significance shouldn’t be underestimated, particularly when working with commercial customers, such as estate agents and facilities managers.

Portal

Generally speaking, a Customer Portal is an online space that customers can log in to at their convenience. By using a customer portal, they can get secure access to relevant data and information that a company has stored on them. It’s a one-stop shop that can give your customers secure access to important records and job details of their own.

While your staff may be happy to help customers with their queries, you’ve probably noticed simple requests—like “Can you send me this invoice?” or “Could you email that certificate?”—are taking up a lot of time. 

You might even be getting complaints that you aren’t answering calls or responding to emails quickly enough—even when you know they shouldn’t take long to reply to—but the sheer number of them is overwhelming and requires a lot of admin time to provide the updates a customer requires. 

A Customer Portal can be a fantastic solution to solve these problems. You can provide convenience to your commercial customers and save time for your team. With a customer portal place, it can go on to help your business thrive by letting you reinvest that time elsewhere. 

How is a Customer Portal different from other portals?

A Customer Portal differs from individual online portals—such as a booking portal or an invoice portal—because those often exist temporarily and as a means of achieving a single task once.

Portals

A Customer Portal, on the other hand, is a permanent place that customers can log in to and access a varied amount of data and, in some cases, even take action and make requests (though more on that shortly).

Here’s a more specific comparison between the two:

After completing a specific job, you might send an invoice portal link so that a customer can pay what you’re owed for that job. Links like these can often expire after 24 hours for security reasons.

However, by logging in to a Customer Portal, the customer could see a full record of invoices listed against every single job you’ve done for them (including the one they need to pay you for).

Three Ways Customer Portals Improve Customer Journeys

We love to talk about customer journeys! They:

  1. Make tracking jobs easy
  2. Give customers access to essential documents
  3. Save your team time on admin tasks

By improving each interaction you have with customers, you’re not only encouraging them to come back and use your services again, but exceptional experiences make it more likely they’ll spread the word and bring you new business, too.

A Customer Portal is another essential tool in your arsenal to give customers more of what they want: convenience.

In doing so, you’ll further enhance the journeys you can take them on and help toward providing great experiences.

It’s no secret that being able to log online and quickly check details yourself beats dialling the phone or sending an email, only to be kept waiting on hold or to receive a reply. Even if it’s a same-day response, it can still be frustrating to wait when you know that other companies have implemented solutions that can get customers the answers they want.

While some information isn’t necessarily time-sensitive, it’s great for their peace of mind—not to mention that feeling of being in control—to quickly log on and check for themselves. For example:

Checking when an invoice is due certainly falls into this ‘peace of mind’ category, while important information, like forwarding certificates, definitely needs to happen ASAP. Both situations would benefit from a portal that lets the customer access these files themselves, instead of swamping your admin with requests and emails asking: “Has [X] been done yet!?”.

Convenience, then, should work both ways, where both customer and service provider can help one another, and a customer portal can enable that to happen, all whilst saving everyone time and energy which keeps them happy.

While there are other benefits beyond those we’ve listed below, it’s helpful to take a look at what we consider to be the 3 main ways a Customer Portal can impact your business!

1. Customer Portals make tracking jobs easy:

One of the best reasons to have a customer portal is so that customers can easily access precise job data. This is especially useful for clients who manage lots of properties, like landlords and estate agents.

When your customer can find essential information themselves, it gives them little reason to disturb your admin. It means everyone can crack on with their own work because everything is accessible by those who need it.

For example: let’s say a tenant calls to check if a repair job is going ahead. Instead of your client having to reach out to your team and check the job’s status, they can simply log in to the online portal and check the job status for themselves. That means no delays in communication, thanks to instantaneous answers they can find themselves.

Small inquiries can often take up more time than expected. They can even interrupt important work. This is why a digital solution is so helpful for everyone.

With a more advanced Customer Portal, your customers could even go on to request additional jobs for a specific property. It’s not just about confirming job statuses, but conveniently being able to create new ones. Again, this saves everyone hassle and data-syncing means no one’s ever out of the loop.

Ultimately, when it comes to monitoring and arranging appointments, you want your booking journey to be as straightforward as possible. It’s all about enhancing customers so that they feel empowered and in control of their experience.

2. Customer Portals provide them access to essential documents:

As mentioned, a Customer Portal can act as a one-stop shop for customers to access their data. Another especially great thing about seeing all their job history located in one place is that they can not only access relevant information, but download it too.

Again, it means customers no longer have to wait for a member of your staff to send them important files like invoices or certificates: they can log on and obtain them themselves. Giving customers a solution that makes it easy for them to see what jobs need to be paid, what’s pending, and what’s been completed speeds up the overall process to your benefit and theirs.

It’s simple: when a job is completed and any relevant digital documents are filled in by your engineer (linked through your job management software), they can be automatically made available to the customer, who can access them via the portal through a secure login.

That means only the right person can access sensitive information and, by speeding things up in this way, your customer can log in, access the digital receipt/invoice for their purchase and even go on to download it, if they wish.

3. Customer portals save your team time on admin tasks:

Even if a customer is happy to wait patiently for the information they need, they’ll probably be happier if they can access it quickly themselves. This extends to other information that’s good to have, such as photos and even job notes from an engineer’s visit.

Happy customer

So, as well as being able to view a list of appointments, customers can use the portal to view uploaded photos or attached files, completed certificates and forms, as well reports.

By making this information readily available, you’re significantly reducing the number of calls your office has to take because customers can access their full history.

That means for every asset and every property tied to their account, there’s maximum transparency between your business and theirs.

A particularly great feature available within an advanced portal, like that provided by Commusoft, can allow customers to add new data, such as addresses and locations to their profile, which then automatically syncs to your database.

Through such a high level of self-service, customers are capable of alleviating the administrative burden so your team can focus on other tasks and even help engineers go on to complete more jobs in the meantime.


Here’s all you need to know about customer portals:

Are you still wondering what a customer portal is? We’ve covered the essentials here, but if you’re excited to see what a portal looks like in action, then look no further than the self-service solutions offered by Commusoft.

Ultimately, with our bespoke portals you can count on an improved ability to interact with your customers and give them the confidence to solve problems themselves. Benefit from saving time, building trust, and giving customers the convenience they deserve!

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I'm eager to tell compelling stories and share great advice that helps field service businesses to build on their success.

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