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Help Your Clients Help Themselves with Customer Portal Software

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Not every customer is the outgoing type. In fact, some clients are happiest when they don’t have to speak directly, or even indirectly, with customer service representatives at all. For these customers, call centers, text, live chat, and even email support options are about as useful as no support at all, because in addition to whatever problems they are experiencing with the product or service, they now have the added chore of having to step out of their comfort zone just to get the issue resolved.

This doesn’t make for a satisfying customer experience, no matter how quickly the problem is resolved.

Of course, you’ll never be able to please everyone; if one or two customers are uncomfortable contacting your representatives, then that’s not actually that big of a loss, right? Well, actually, it is. For one thing, one unhappy customer can end up costing your business more than you might think — on average, one negative online review ends up costing the business in question about 30 customers. For another thing, clients who prefer not to contact representatives are not as rare as you might expect.

A survey conducted by Nuance suggests that 67% of customers would rather use a self-service system than speak with a representative. That’s well over half of your clients. If your service agents are the only available source of customer support, you aren’t giving your clients what they want. A self-service system, in the form of customer service portal software, is the answer.

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What are Customer Service Portals?

Customer service portals, are designed to be accessed directly by clients without the need to involve a service agent. Accessible through the company website, these portals operate completely over the internet, and include functions, databases, FAQ pages, etc. that are open to the end user. Clients simply connect via a standard web browser, and are able to perform a variety of self-service tasks.

Additionally, the best online customer portal software acts as a sort of self-service social media platform. Through community forums and other other customer-to-customer communication pages, clients can crowdsource solutions, build relationships, and and provide each other valuable tips, ideas, and feedback.

Customer service portals are, in essence, an effective way for your business to help your clients help themselves, but customers aren’t the only ones who benefit.

In addition to giving your customers convenient options for product support, customer portal software frees up time for your agents to focus on more pressing service tasks, increasing their productivity in the process. Similarly, fewer support requests mean fewer customer-support related expenses, and a reduced need to expand your customer-service department as your business grows. Portals also bring more clients to your site, increasing your page authority and setting your business up as an expert in your industry.

Finally, portals help educate customers. The old adage “Teach a man to fish…” applies in business as well. When you give your clients the tools to find their own solutions, they’ll be better equipped when issues arise later. By expanding the client skill base, through FAQ pages, online guides, tutorial videos, and more, customer portal software helps your clients acquire an in-depth understanding of your product, so that they’ll be less likely to need support in the future.

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Effective Customer Portal Software Stands Out.

There’s a big difference between empowering your clients to help themselves and setting them adrift without any sort of customer support. The best customer portal software is more than just a corner of the internet where resourceful clients can track down answers; it’s a coherent, flexible, multichannel solution designed to give customers easy access to detailed information. As such, there are certain factors that help define effective customer portal software.

Here are the tools and capabilities your portal solution will need in order to give your clients superior self-service support:

  1. Omni-channel support
    As of 2016, more people now rely on mobile smart devices than conventional computers to access the internet, with mobile devices accounting for 51.3% of internet usage worldwide. Based on this statistic, does it make sense to force your clients to access customer portals through their desktops? Show your customers that you truly care about satisfying their needs with a customer portal software that is fully compatible with any device.

  2. Communities
    Discussion groups and online forums ensure that clients are able to grow together, finding solutions as a group, and trending posts and informative articles can help supplement those solutions with reliable documentation. This grows your number of potential support agents indefinitely, drawing on a nearly limitless pool of knowledge.

  3. Simple integration
    When customers are looking for support, the last thing they want is a difficult-to-access knowledge base. Your customer service portal needs to function seamlessly as part of your overall site. Portal software that is designed to integrate easily with webpages and applications help provide clients with a simplified experience.

  4. Customization
    When it comes to customizing customer portal software, open-source technology is only one solution. The ability to make changes to the software code are advantageous for those with the proper IT training, but may be too daunting for general users. Instead, customer portal software that includes built-in templates make it possible for users of all technical-expertise levels to create an attractive, branded service portal. Customer portal software solutions that can be customized as heavily or as lightly as you need give you the freedom to make it happen.

  5. Service-representative integration
    When clients and communities are unable to find the right solution despite having self-service access to reliable information, that’s when it’s time for a service agent to step in. Superior customer web-portal software allows agents to monitor issues as they arise, and to get involved when they need to, so no question ever goes unanswered.

Salesforce Service Cloud is the Superior Customer Portal Solution.

Salesforce Service Cloud is a complete customer service solution. Built on the world-renowned Salesforce CRM platform, Service Cloud gives businesses the power, to give their clients the power, to help themselves. With self-service portal software that can be easily integrated to your business website and customer-facing apps, your clients will be able to resolve issues quickly and effectively. And because Service Cloud is completely cloud-based and features mobile-first design, it is 100% compatible with any internet-enabled device.

Service Cloud features robust communities options, and allows customers to vote up the best answers, recognizing the most helpful and knowledgeable community members on an on-going leaderboard. Additionally, Service Cloud offers advanced customization options and templates, so that you can design your customer portal to fit your brand identity. And for those times when questions aren’t being answered, Service Cloud automatically notifies service agents, who can then respond directly through the community portal in real time.

All of this, combined with advanced reporting features, make Salesforce Service Cloud the superior online customer portal software solution.

Not every customer is comfortable contacting you service agents, and even among those that are, there are many who would still prefer to have the option of self-service. In fact, 75% of clients agree that self service is the most convenient method of addressing issues and problems. Give your customers the gift of self-service, with Salesforce Service Cloud, and help them help themselves.

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