At first glance, trying to find a suitable customer portal for your business may seem like a daunting undertaking. However, by sticking to a few guidelines, you’ll be able to find your ideal software in no time.
Is your main priority sharing online documents? Maybe it’s remote access, or even Google apps integration? There are a number of software solutions that will be ideal for all of the above. Whichever you find appropriate, you should consider that there are some bases your prospective customer portal should cover before you make your choice.
A file sharing feature that allows you to securely share your documents with your team members and clients should be one of your top priorities when researching your customer portal. It’s important to ensure that you can upload any document, be it small or large, PDF or .doc, and that they will be easy to view, edit, share and organise. By having such a feature within your software, you’ll be able to say goodbye to the communication complications that come with searching through chains of emails to find your files. In today’s world, with the instant availability of information at your fingertips, your team members and clients will want nothing less than instant access when it comes to your client portal; meaning that you need to make sure that your chosen tool will allow the team and clients to access all of their files, documents, events and tasks at the tap of an app or a click of the mouse.
Wikipedia defines Collaboration Software as being an “application software designed to help people involved in a common task to achieve their goals”. Now, whether you need your chosen software because your team is working remotely, or whether you want something that will help your office collaborate more effectively, there’s going to be something for everyone. By choosing a customer portal that covers the following collaborative features, your bases will be covered for effective teamwork:
- A variety of communication options, be it an integrated instant messaging feature or discussions forums,
- The ability to create and assign tasks, events and deadlines, and the option to integrate your default calendar,
- A simple and easy-to-navigate hub, where everything can be kept in one place, avoiding the confusion of emails and allowing group collaboration that will keep everyone up to date constantly.
The project management elements are the backbone to a successful customer portal tool, they bring together the collaborative features and help to maximise your company’s productivity. Two-thirds of companies are communicating with clients using
project management software (Capterra). It’s never been easier to digitally assign tasks, set deadlines and reminders, manage your team’s calendar, and control file documentation; regardless of the geographical location of your team members and clients. Keep those projects moving forward with team members certain of their responsibilities, and keep external members in the loop by choosing a customer portal that allows you to securely integrate their email accounts, eliminating the need to add new members to your software unnecessarily.
What will define your chosen tool as a customer portal is the level of involvement your client will have with the project. It is essential that the client will have the opportunity to be involved every step of the way when it comes to building trust between the business and the client. You should be looking for nothing less than a software that will give you customisable permissions to control certain files, folders, discussions, tasks and internal conversations.
Whether you’re an accountancy firm that is constantly exchanging sensitive information, or an advertising company that wants to ensure their ideas aren’t stolen, every business wants to maintain a high level of security. You will find that you can choose from a private cloud or a public cloud (or a hybrid cloud, which combines elements of the two): public clouds are based on shared physical hardware that is owned and run by third party operators (think: Google Drive or DropBox), mostly suitable for personal use; then there are private clouds (think: Basecamp, or even Clinked), offering all of the practical, scalable and efficient features of the public cloud, but with the added security and control - much more suitable for businesses.
So let’s say the customer portal software ticks all of the above boxes; you need to remember to analyse the simplicity and intuitiveness of the tool before you make your choice. It’s all very well that the customer portal can deliver in terms of your required features, but if your team can’t learn the software, then you won’t get any results. And don’t forget to weigh up the scalability features of your software - think long term, utilise a tool right from the start that will give your customer portal the opportunity to grow with your business.