7 Must-Have Features for Your Customer Self-Service Portal
May 17, 2021 - 11 minutes
The customer self-service portal is revolutionising the way field service businesses provide for their customers. Once implemented, you can stay ahead of your competitors, satisfy the ever growing needs of estate agents, property managers, and landlords, and transform your day-to day business practices.
A successful business works to continuously improve customer experience and alleviate weight on office staff. Regardless of your industry, whether you work in plumbing, heating, electrical, fire protection, etc.; a great self-service portal will help you balance important necessities. If your office staff scrambling with follow ups from estate agents, or, if falling behind on getting the correct paperwork in your customers’ hands sounds all too familiar, you already know that these stressful interactions, harmful to your businesses’ reputation, can be left in the past. After all, losing work from a single estate agent means losing work from multiple job sites; one unhappy customer can be a tremendous detriment to your business.
Time-consuming phone calls and sorting through mountains of paper (or digital files) eat away at efficiency. A customer self-service portal can streamline your day-to-day business operations, propel your business to the next level, and cultivate customer satisfaction outside of working hours.The software you do select should be an all-in-one solution which further extends the great customer experience you already offer to your customers. We’ve gathered some common frustrations and paired them with must-have functionalities found in the highest quality customer portals.
While beauty is important, it’s essential that a customer self-service portal is straightforward and uncomplicated. If it’s too difficult and convoluted to use, no customer will take the time to learn the platform. Ultimately, this will lose you business. Further, the implementation of a self-service portal should lift the burden on office staff; not bombard them with phone calls from frustrated customers about a portal they can’t figure out. (Self-service means that your customers should be able to serve themselves).
Therefore, focus on finding a self-service solution that is both easy on the eyes and easy to use. It should function as an all-in-one hub where your customers can quickly access important information. Your customers are the beating heart of your field service business. Meeting their needs is a must.
While you don’t have to go all-out with all the bells and whistles, you should pay attention to self-service softwares that offer information about what your customers care most about: access to invoices, forms and certificate documentation, and the ability to easily book new jobs without picking up the phone.
The platform is available 24/7 and offers real-time information
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes: questions and concerns can arise at any time; they shouldn’t have to wait until working hours for their needs to be met. Increasingly, high-quality customer service is about having real-time information and solutions available 24/7. Obviously, it’s unrealistic to have your team working around the clock. This is the true beauty of a self-service portal. On their own time, customers can access whatever relevant information they want, creating a seamless extension of your customer service that will work for you in the background.
Now put yourself in your office employees’ shoes: when customers come calling with questions about job invoices, or with concerns about jobs stretched across multiple sites, they have to pause a task to tend to the customer. While this can make for an opportunity to extend great customer service, it’s inefficient in the long run. These interruptions can break your office team’s workflow, making for less productive work days. With a software that fulfils many of your customers’ needs in one place, your employees can lend themselves to more urgent and important tasks.
When you and your employees are off the clock, the customer self-service portal will be working in the background, and automatically updating 24/7. This functionality will take some of the weight off employees who are overextending themselves. With real-time information, customers will be kept up to date without making time-costing calls to office staff.
Detailed job overviews are easy to access
Make sure to choose a self-service portal that displays detailed overviews of all the jobs and services you’ve provided or are scheduled to provide. It’s not enough to simply list a job with the date, address, and service description; there’s so much more information to share and a good chance the customer is looking for something specific. If customers can’t find what they need via the self-service portal, they’ll be calling or emailing your office before you know it, leading to both frustrated staff and customers.
What specific information should you deliver? With the right self-service portal, your customers should be able to easily access detailed job overviews including site photos and attachments, completed forms, engineers’ notes, appointment statuses, and a PDF job report.
The more data you can offer your customers the better. While you may already be emailing information to customers, such as confirmations, certificates, and job reports, these materials can easily be overlooked, or lost. For the customer, maintaining physical and digital records for multiple projects and properties on their own is an extremely difficult task. A platform that can do the heavy lifting for both your employees and your customers can easily become the backbone of your business and is a reflection of your businesses’ organisation and customer care.
Your customers can request jobs on their own
All customer self-service portals should come with the functionality for customers to request jobs when it’s most relevant to them. It’s an easy way to get more business and reduce the number of calls your office team takes. Companies that don’t offer the capacity for customers to add jobs outside of working hours will find themselves reeling from lost opportunities. Remember, there are customers who aren’t going to sit and wait for you to be available; they’ll turn to an immediate solution. Wouldn’t you do the same?
Appliances and assets tend to have a mind of their own and don’t pay attention to time (appliances don’t break only during working hours); these issues go hand-in-hand with the solution of being available 24/7. Further, this is perfect for a reactive business: whether you’re on the clock, or fast asleep, your business will be prepped to pivot and provide for your customers whenever they need.
Whatever time of day, customers should be able to request a specific job from within their customer portal. With a job submitted to your office, your customer can relax, knowing that they’re already receiving great customer care. This ultra-convenient solution means that your office staff can come into work with new jobs ready to be assigned to engineers straightaway. Of course, the customer can then track the exact appointment date and time from their self-service portal too. With this must-have feature, your business operations will be even more streamlined and office staff will spend less time on the phone or replying to email job requests from customers.
Organised invoices can be viewed and printed
Seamless invoicing is essential for both your business and your customers. Sending out accurate invoices as quickly as possible is vital to your company’s cash flow; if customers aren’t quick to both receive and pay their invoices, it’s your company that’ll be left hurting. Customers should know how much to pay, when they should pay, and what they have paid for past services.
Let’s be honest, the majority of your customers don’t have the time or patience to compile a digital file of all their past and outstanding invoices for every service they have received from your company. A customer self-service portal that will automatically update and present easy-to-find invoices (that can be saved and printed!) is a tremendous value.
Put yourself back in your customers’ shoes: let’s say they’re an estate agent with many different tenants. A portal should provide proper access to the maintenance costs across all their properties, clearly showing which invoices have been paid or are still outstanding. If you’re considering a customer self-service portal that doesn’t offer this vital invoicing functionality, you may need to look elsewhere.
All site certificates can be accessed and downloaded
Important documents should be easily accessible within a customer self-service portal. Again, a high-quality software will empower your customers to provide for their properties and tenants. For example, if a tenant requests a service sheet or certificate for a specific appliance that’s been serviced (like a gas safety certificate or an EICR), it’s crucial for these documents to be found and emailed or printed quickly. Additionally, your customers may wish to (or legally obliged to) provide new tenants with documentation and certificates detailing past services that have been performed at the property.
This transparency will trickle down: you provide your customers with accurate and up-to-date records regarding various services carried out on their properties, and your customers can quickly pass this along to their tenants.
A fast response leaves all parties involved happy and satisfied. Offering transparency and establishing expectations to their tenants is a valuable asset for your customers, and they’ll be grateful to your company for supplying a helpful solution.
The portal supports multiple contractors
It’s a given that a customer self-service portal will show details on the work your field service company has provided. But what if your customers are looking for a solution that hosts numerous businesses? Self-service platforms should come with the muscle to carry more than just your business. The portal you choose should have the capability to accommodate a myriad of different contractors, across different industries, who all tend to your customers’ properties.
If an estate agent, for example, works with four different field service companies, they would only require one self-service portal to manage all of them. This is better for the customer in the long run and can be better for you too. Imagine you’re engaging a new customer for work and they already utilise a portal with an existing service business. If the portal your business uses can work hand-in-hand with theirs, the customer will likely be excited to work with you since you can easily integrate into their workflow.
An all-inclusive solution means your customers don’t have to create and check numerous accounts detailing work spread across different companies. With everything in one place, your customers can rest easy.
A customer self-service portal that meets your needs
A customer self-service portal will extend the reach of your team to 24/7 support; once you implement one, it’ll reflect your company’s commitment to nurturing the very best customer experience. Choose a software that will straddle revenue growth and customer satisfaction, and ease your workload; not add to it. Make the right choice and you’ll be able to offer greater convenience to your customers, cut down on office admin time, and help win over even more customers.
Like the features we reviewed? You can find them all in Commusoft’s Customer Portal. Commusoft’s job management software supports a variety of field service industries and our self-service customer portal can help your business best support your customers. You’ll find all the must-have features, designed for both your team and customers:
Intuitive design and simple UI ✅
Updates in real time and is available 24/7 ✅
Offers detailed, searchable job and property data ✅
Customers can add jobs at any time ✅
Organises invoices that customers can save and print ✅