We’re in a time when the digital world is more familiar to many than the analog one. Millennials and Generation Z have grown up playing video games since preschool; they’ve lived most of their lives online. These digital native customers are smart, tech-savvy, and accustomed to being able to find answers and solve problems with a few swipes on their phone. (Fun fact: by 2018, it’s estimated that millennials will have the most spending power of any generation).
But it’s not just the younger generations that have digital-first expectations. Today, we’re all constantly connected; we all want to be able to schedule appointments, upgrade or downgrade services, or pay bills in a few clicks from anywhere and at any time — even on our mobile devices.
That’s why modern customer portals that provide a seamless, connected, and personalized self-service experience have become so important.
– “State of the Connected Customer,” Salesforce Research, October 2016.
In our e-book, The Future of Customer Portals, we dive into the practical details of what it takes to really put the customer first. Let’s look at some of the topics covered.
Maybe you’re thinking that your existing portal has you covered. Why should you invest in updating it? After all, it still works, right? The truth is, without the rich capabilities of a connected portal, you won’t be giving your customers the service experience they’ve come to expect. Meanwhile, your competitors are.
As a modern consumer yourself, you already know that not all portals are created equal. Traditional customer portals operate like many other legacy systems: transactionally. They’re not designed for building relationships, whereas connected portals are tapped into real-time business systems and data streams that make it easy for customers to find information, manage accounts, and connect with agents in a one-stop shop. When all of a company’s data is integrated and centralized, it empowers new functionality; accounting, inventory, customer service, sales, marketing, and more are all connected and working together to serve customers on their terms.
The end result: empowering customers to self-serve, and empowering companies to provide a more connected and personalized experience.
Let’s take a look at a type of portal that we’re all likely familiar with: a banking portal. Online banking is becoming the norm for many of us. In the past, we could check on our account balances and not much else. Today, however, we can seamlessly pay bills, check the status of loans, track spending, and transfer money to friends with a few clicks or swipes.
Modern portals are already paying dividends in customer and employee satisfaction and retention. When customers are empowered to find information on their own and can update their own accounts, it frees service agents to work on solving complex issues. In the banking example, service agents aren’t tied up with taking care of simple transactions or searching through payment histories. By working on larger and more impactful problems, service agents can forge deeper relationships with customers and feel more connected to the goals of the entire business.
Meanwhile, the IT department can also benefit from an upgraded digital experience. By nature, modern cloud-based portals are more flexible and easily implemented than traditional legacy technology. IT doesn’t have to worry about maintaining and upgrading infrastructure, and compared to traditional portals, modern portals are easier to integrate with essential data sources and processes. That means that your developers can easily add on the services and experiences that customers desire, as well as quickly fix issues that arise.
Learn more about building a portal versus developing your own solution from scratch in this Forrester report.
While connected portals may have been the domain of complex integrations and costly development in the past, elevated customer expectations are driving home the value of a seamless and personalized experience for businesses of all sizes. In giving customers the experiences they want, businesses can build stronger, lasting relationships and loyalty.
Where to start? Check out The Future of Customer Portals e-book — our practical guide to understanding modern portals and learning how real brands have redefined self-service at their companies.