Customer Portal Solution: Software and Business Overview

Customer Portal Solution - icon

What is a customer portal: a summary

A customer (client) portal is created as a digital environment for customer self-service. Though its goals are industry-bound and driven by the needs of a particular company, most commonly, a portal enables customers to submit service requests and get their issues solved while also access company’s products/services online. Effective mobile presence and convenient user experience are major factors for successful portal adoption by customers.

5 must-have capabilities of customer portals

Digital customer onboarding

To reduce onboarding time and stress.

  • Step-by-step customer registration process.
  • Digital document upload.
  • E-signature capture and verification.
  • Automated customer identity verification.
  • Real-time multi-lingual translation for an international customer base.

Customer support

To respond to customer inquiries.

  • Multi-channel ticket submission via a web form, a live chat, phone, etc.
  • Ticket response workflows: ticket routing, prioritization, resolution, escalation.
  • Self-help knowledge base.
  • AI-powered chatbot to address customers’ common requests.

Customer communication

To create a sense of community.

  • Self-help customer forum.
  • Topic categorization for forum and knowledge base, filtering by post popularity and date.
  • Customer-generated product/service feedback.
  • Customer experience surveys and polls.

Content management tools

To create content aimed at informing and educating customers.

  • A content library.
  • Diverse content formats: press releases, knowledge articles, user manuals, etc.
  • No-code page builder.
  • Content categorization and convenient search.
  • Customer interaction with the content: a possibility to comment, share, subscribe to updates.
  • Content versioning.
  • Scheduled content publishing.

Customer account security

To protect the privacy of customer information.

  • Customizable settings for regulated customer portal access (for customers and internal support agents).
  • Compromised account alerts.
  • Staff permissions for customer document access.
  • Compliance with local laws and legislations (e.g., HIPAA compliance for storing and processing health-related information).

Domain-specific portal features

Banking

A customer portal allows customers to access their bank accounts remotely and make financial transactions online. A broad set of portal capabilities typically includes:

  • Downloadable bank statements.
  • Online payment to third parties.
  • Loan application and transactions.
  • Money transfers (including between cards).
  • Utility bill payments.

Tips:

  • Enable auto log-out after user inactivity to prevent unauthorized access to your customers’ banking information.
  • If you are planning to incorporate upselling in your banking portal, use machine learning and AI to tailor banking product/service recommendations individually and refrain from push-selling.

Manufacturing and sales

Via a portal, customers access products or services offered by a company and can make an instant purchase online. For this type of a customer portal, full ecommerce functionality is needed, including:

  • Product/service catalog management.
  • Product cards.
  • Shopping card and checkout.
  • Online payment processing.
  • Order management.

Tip:

  • Mind the difference in purchase decision-making of individual consumers and business buyers to complement your customer portal with B2C- or B2B-specific functionality. For example, volume-based discounts will help to boost B2B sales, while personalized and time-limited discounts will likely encourage more B2C buys.

Healthcare

In the healthcare industry, customer portals can be designed for patients or healthcare institutions (acting in such cases as business clients).

  • Patient portals allow patients to drive and supervise their treatment, schedule in-person visits, consult a doctor via messages and video sessions.
  • Medical solution providers or medical device and equipment manufacturers create customer portals to sell their products/services, conduct online training events, organize training materials, and process service tickets from their clients.

Tip:

  • Offer patients a possibility to fill in intake forms and symptom questionnaires via a portal to put a doctor in the picture in advance and make a patient’s visit more result-oriented.

Logistics

Logistics providers share the responsibility for the continuity of supply chains of their clients. The launch of a customer portal enables real-time control over shipping and transportation:

  • Access to shipment documentation.
  • Scheduling shipments.
  • Tracking the shipment progress.

Tip:

  • You can offer a possibility to set up automated email or text alerts regarding the status of critical shipments.

sample architecture of a customer portal

Below, we show a customer portal solution built with a Progressive Web Application (PWA) technology as it enables convenient mobile experience for customers. Among its clear advantages are the ability to work in low-speed networks and during network breaks, fast website speed and a possibility of home screen installation like with a native mobile app.

Architecture of customer portal - ScienceSoft

Customer portal + ERP integration

To avoid manual exchange of information on products and sales transactions.

Customer portal + CRM integration

To complement customer information in CRM with the data on a customer’s product/service preferences and customer support interactions.

Customer portal + ticketing system integration

To let customers conveniently submit service requests via a portal.

How to drive customer adoption of a self-service portal

Estimate the workload of your customer service first to understand the feasibility of a customer portal launch. As a rule, larger companies see higher customer involvement into self-service while smaller companies can do well with in-person communication channels.

Even if you want to launch faster, invest time in UX research and usability testing. This will help keep the focus on the convenience of end users. The ROI of customer portal implementation will be higher if customers prefer the portal to person-to-person interactions to get the required information or address a problem.

At the desk or on the go, customers will use a portal with the same comfort if the viewing experience is optimal for any devices and screen sizes. There are several ways to achieve that – make a portal with adaptive design that adjusts the website for a screen size and may hide some functionality inconvenient for mobile viewing, get a standalone mobile app, or implement a portal as a PWA. Your portal development vendor will help you choose the best solution.

Factors affecting customer portal implementation cost

The cost of your customer portal will depend on the functionality you want to provide.

  • Customer self-registration procedure.
  • Self-service capabilities: submission of customer support tickets and price quotations, booking, online buying, payment transactions, e-forms completion, more.
  • Content management capabilities: the diversity of content types you will need to create.
  • Customer communication channels to integrate: email and text messaging, phone calling, video calling, live chat, more.
  • Advanced functionality: an AI-powered chatbot, sentiment analysis, a tiered loyalty program, and more.
  • Back-office process automation: management of customer support tickets (number and complexity of ticket routing and escalation rules), payment gateway integration, order management, integration with business systems (ERP, CRM, etc.).

We estimate the starting threshold for customer portal implementation as $70,000.

Commonly, companies see the return on customer portal investment within one year after the implementation. For example, the case study for a municipal utility company indicates that the very first year of customer portal usage brought a 20% increase in customer self-service involvement and a 65% reduction in call center traffic.

Launch a customer portal with ScienceSoft

Each business has its unique requirements to a customer portal. Our team can help you unlock all the capabilities of a customer portal and implement the solution with due quality and in time.

Customer portal consulting

  • Conducting UX research to better understand your customers.
  • Choosing an optimal development approach and the right technology stack for your customer portal project.
  • Estimating project duration and cost.
  • Recommending a risk mitigation plan.

Full-cycle customer portal development

  • Making a project proposal based on a thorough business requirement study.
  • UX-wise user interface design.
  • Platform-based or custom portal development.
  • Customer portal integration with business systems according to the planned solution architecture.
About ScienceSoft

About ScienceSoft

ScienceSoft is an internationally present software development and IT consulting company headquartered in the US. Our experience in web portal development relies on 16 years in the domain. We have implemented customer portals for diverse industries including manufacturing, retail, healthcare, logistics, public services, banking, telecoms.