A customer portal offers numerous benefits to businesses looking to improve customer satisfaction and streamline communication.
Why is it hot, then? Well, the answer is straightforward if you think about it. If the pot was brewing before the pandemic, it began to boil during the pandemic, customer behavior changed dramatically during this time, and the need for digital interfaces to interact with professional buyers accelerated enormously. And now it turns out that the behavior change is permanent. Therefore, many companies have now realized that the customer portal is a central point of contact in the customer journey for returning customers.
In addition, companies have gained deeper insights that customer data is the new gold and that the logged-in state creates opportunities to get to know the customer on a deeper level. Companies can gain insights into their customers' interests and any problems they might be facing, and they can use these insights to personalize content, create relevance, develop the customer journey further, and provide valuable input into how the experience should be developed.
It is good to start with the customer to understand why the customer portal is essential. After all, customer needs are in focus in all types of trading. We are all consumers, and most of us shop digitally. Both for practical reasons, to save time and money, and because it is convenient. Whether we are bored or want to be inspired, what, how, and when we e-shop, everyone knows what is possible. And that expectation and that level of experience we bring into our professional lives. So, the bar for B2B trading has been raised in recent years.
Simultaneously, e-commerce and digital services for consumers set the standard for convenience and simplicity, but professional buyers are already there in the digital channel. They spend a considerable part of their buying journey digitally, searching for information to solve their problem and comparing products or solutions between potential suppliers, often long before contacting a salesperson.
And once they become customers, they want to continue to serve themselves when it suits them, retrieve information when it's timely, educate themselves when they have a gap in their schedule, and plan for maintenance, upgrades, etc., when appropriate. This is where the customer portal comes into the picture.
We've built customer portals for various industries, ranging from Medtech to steel pipes, and we're seeing some moves that resonate with professional buyers.
In our contacts with companies from various B2B industries, we see that some selling companies still need to be on track or have only come a little on their journey to digitize their customer experience. Many companies also remain at the base level of offering standard products and simple self-service.
At the same time, many industries have come a long way, and enormous values are already being conveyed digitally between the companies. In some industries, more money is already being generated digitally B2B than sales through a salesperson. And growth happens faster in digital channels than in physical ones. The general trend is that digital sales are approaching, or even surpassing, in-person sales in many B2B industries.
The customer portal gives the selling company a uniform and secure way to meet its customers' expectations, offer them added value, distinguish itself from competitors, and increase long-term customer relationship profitability while collecting data that enables new insights into customer needs.
In summary, we see the following driving forces explaining why customer portals are in high demand right now:
To conclude, the customer portal thus improves profitability in terms of short- and long-term revenue, an opportunity to save money through efficiency, and a platform for innovation and growth. No wonder then that there is a willingness to invest.
Read part 2/5 in my blog series: The right functionality for value creation.
Read part 3/5 in my blog series: How to smartly build a value-creating customer portal.