What is User Portal Software and Do We Need it?

There are so many great reasons to grow your company and gain more clients, customers, and sales. Growing a building a company obviously will come with some big changes as you reach certain milestones and gain a certain level of delivery, be it products or service.

One of the areas that will undoubtedly become something that you need to manage differently and better as you grow is your customer communication. There comes a time when coping with the calls and emails gets too much and you have a few options:

  • Employ more people to take customer calls and emails.
  • Outsource your customer comms.
  • Build a User Portal.

Employing more staff is the obvious thing to do when you grow, but when we’re talking about customer communication, there’s little direct profit (if any) in dealing with these - aside from customer retention, of course.

So extra staff means more overheads that become an increasing cost and possibly something you then need to build into your price structure.

No matter what you do, there will be times when your customers need help and need details, dates, files, or whatever your business supplies them with as part of your work together.

When email and phone is all you have, it’s more hands on deck the more you grow…

Unless you build a User Portal, that is.

What is a User Portal?

A User Portal is a private dashboard with all the relevant (and secure) information for customers or users of a business. They have an online account that gives access to certain information that a customer might need access to, or will need to check from time to time.

 

Users access their portal, usually through a web browser, and access it with a username and password. Once in they have a unique view of their purchases and orders, their account, points, status, files, and more.

Effectively you’re giving them access to the information that you hold on them and other content that they will need to get to over time.

Who typically has a User Portal?

User Portals are actually very common, even if you might not have thought of them being called this before. Your bank or coffee loyalty card or mobile phone account login is a User Portal. That information is unique to you and you have a username and password.

Some common ways to use a User Portal

  • Customer service – setting up a bank of support files and FAQs and even a community with live question and answers is a great way to deal with mass customer issues, problems, and common questions. Cloud accounting company Xero do this very well, as do companies like Apple, Facebook, and even your own bank.
     
  • e-Commerce and sales orders – giving access to orders and other information from your e-Commerce to your customers saves you a heap of time. Adding in order tracking codes and returns or refund options gives control to the customer and gives them a way of seeing what’s going on with their order, without having to call you.
     
  • Affiliate schemes – building an army of affiliates or sales people for your product? A User Portal gives them access to great content like training videos, PDFs, manuals, and even a leader board or other incentivised activities.
     
  • Universities – most universities will have a user portal for their graduates. Access to homework, resources, online payments, and the ability to submit coursework are just some of the features that will help a university and its students achieve a lot of admin and file swapping in a user-friendly and quick way.
     
  • Schools – many schools now offer users a User Portal to share homework, student data, details of upcoming events, parent/teacher comms and more. No more lost letters in the bottom of school bags!
     
  • Health and fitness – gyms, personal trainers and even fitness apps can gather, store and share data on the fitness and training in a User Portal to give a far more focused view for the trainer and the trainee.
     
  • Community/loyalty – building a loyalty program? A User Portal is the ideal way to give access to the points, rewards, and updates on your scheme.

User Portals save time and never switch off

Dealing with all your customer queries and problems can be a big drain on your company and in this busy world we all want access, help and support at all hours of the day. A User portal will work around the clock to be there when your customers want to access their account or get help on with problem they’re facing. Of course, if they need to speak to a human, they can still do this, but it should reduce the number of people who need to do this very dramatically.

Many of us will now work on our accounts, education, admin, and other areas of our life outside of the standard 9-5. So don’t employ a 24hr team – build a User Portal instead.

More secure and safe way to share information and files

We’re now more security conscious than ever. With the ongoing threat of malware and phishing, customers are less likely to open files in emails and many email clients are less likely to share them with the recipient, as the spam filters become more and more strict and hides them in spam folders.

A User Portal is secure and stores files and other account details in a safe place. It allows your customers to log in and download or upload files, safe in the knowledge that they’re in control of what they’re working with.

Most customers actually prefer to help themselves

Go back a few years and we were all calling and waiting on hold for the answers from our suppliers and companies that we worked with. Now we’re happier to deal with those things in our own time and on our own.

Most customers prefer to manage their content, files, information and details online, rather than making a call. The rise of online and app banking only goes to show how happy and confident we’re all getting at managing all aspects of our lives online, not on the high street, or on the phone.

A User Portal could be your answer to growth, customer retention, secure service, and much more…

There’s really no limit to what you could build into your User Portal.

Accountancy firms now have them for sharing files, rental firms use them for bookings, holiday consultants have them for insurance, flights, hotels and other booking information and even your children’s school and teachers are using the power of the web to communicate with their end users 24hrs a day.

This isn’t just about saving on labour costs. This is about moving with the times and allowing your business to grow exponentially. Most customers prefer to manage their account themselves and only contact you when they really need to. With the constant fear of online hacking, a secure online portal gives more confidence and control to your customers.

Are you thinking about how this could apply to your business? We build business-changing software and User Portals are just one part of that.

Let’s have a chat about how software could change your business for the better. Your customers will love you for it!

 

 

 

 

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