Wave Goodbye to Your Business Unless You Have a Customer Portal

Up until now, point-of-sale (POS) has been the sole technical tool you'd need to survive and fill your customers' needs. It's not even something a customer thinks about post-purchase when asked about the experience, as long as the POS works without problems. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has kept a lot of people isolated behind closed doors, this rudimentary form of service has fast become as arcane as the dinosaurs and about as effective as a placebo.

With POS no longer enough, businesses need full-fledged operating systems that incorporate customer portals to survive.

The customer portal is the cement that bonds the relationship between customers and service providers. That's why getting it right is key; if you don't, you can say goodbye to your business.

It's a given that customers no longer demand a personalized experience; they quite simply expect it. This provides you with a sterling opportunity to shine and keep them coming back for more because they trust you. That said, the pressure is on, because the need for a seamless exchange of information increases exponentially when there's a reason to contact the business.

The core fundamentals are 24/7 availability, a deep knowledge of the customer, and a coherent experience across all channels. These factors should all play into a robust self-service portal to optimize customer experiences and foster subsequent long-term relationships.

If you're in the repair business and need to automate fast (and who doesn't given what's happened so far in 2020) you should definitiely be looking at a self-service portal.

With these tricks and tips, your service portal will provide tangible benefits, including the following:

  • Increased control of repair flows and resource planning;
  • Increased revenue and service capacity;
  • Cost savings from reduced time spent responding to customer inquiries;
  • Extended availability of your services, even when there's a lockdown; and
  • Money faster when paid online.

One caveat: It's a schoolboy error to think your customer portal is a solitary channel. It needs to work with other elements of customer service. Integrating effectively can help ease the burden on other resources.

Customers should be able to resolve issues without an agent's help using a self-service portal.

Build your self-service portal so customers can create repair requests, approve costs, receive order status updates, and search for repair history and receipts, all without input from a technician or a customer service agent. Do this and the time and associated cost savings are considerable.

If it helps, emulate the Amazon shopping experience. You browse, you decide on a product based on price/reviews, and you expect updates on when and how your purchase will be delivered once you've pulled the trigger.

It's as easy as 1-2-3.

Customer portals improve agent productivity.

With a functional customer portal, most of your customers will not need an agent to provide a response to routine requests for updates and documentation related to the repairs. This will equate to fewer calls to customer service, fewer messages, and fewer support tickets. Furthermore, for customers who do call in, your agents can spend time answering each query without worrying about a backlog of inquiries.

Fortuitously, this leaves allowances for creativity on the part of your agents. A self-service customer portal frees up agents to provide excellent customer care, such as identifying and meeting additional customer needs with other products and services.

Boost positive customer experience and recommendations.

A self-service portal can boost brand trust and reputation, and gearing your platform so it is a positively refreshing experience for customer interactions will pay dividends.

A user-friendly interface is of paramount importance. It should be compatible with different types of media and be able to be updated in real time.

The opportunities for this level of functionality are boundless and make for great customer interactions.

Thirty-nine percent of millennials prefer to find solutions to issues themselves. If you can provide the resources (knowledgebase, FAQ page, chatbot/live functionality) to do so in a seamless environment, it increases the standing of your service among customers.

Self-service portals leverage personalized information.

A self-service portal should have personalization features. By personalization, I mean that it helps customers find specific information about their repairs and devices, using experience from past activities. As a result, customers can work faster using self-service.

Furthermore, personalization upgrades the whole customer experience. Having their own account to access their past repair services and providing relevant information helps customers feel that you value them. >This can contribute to customer appeal and is typically reflected by an increase in positive reviews and recommendations. And, of course, with these, more customers and increased revenue are not far behind.

A customer self-service portal offers solutions that allow you to manage repairs effectively. With the benefits outlined above, this will enhance your customer experience, turn happy customers into repeat customers, and increase revenue.

Joel Mansnerus is CEO and founder of Fixably, which provides software for repair shops and technicians to manage their workflows.