If you're an agency looking to create custom-branded portals for customers, it's important that your solution stands apart from other options on the market. There are many ways to differentiate yourself in this crowded space, but one way to do so is through a unique user experience (UX). A great UX will help potential users find what they want quickly while also making them feel like they belong there.
A good example of this would be Apple's own iTunes store or Google Play Store. These stores have been around for years now, yet every time someone walks into either one they know exactly where to go and how to get things done because their expectations were already set by the company who created these platforms. And even if those companies changed hands, the expectation was still there waiting to be fulfilled.
This concept can apply well beyond just online shopping experiences as well. Many eCommerce brands use "customer portals" to provide easy access to services such as order tracking or account management. But when you look closely at most of these portals, they all seem very similar across different providers -- which means you may not see much value over other solutions available elsewhere.
So what makes a good customer portal? How does it differ from other solutions? What features should you include to ensure your customers stay engaged and happy? In this article we'll explore some key differences between traditional and modern customer portals. We'll then review several popular examples of each type of customer portal before diving into our recommendations for creating a truly personalized experience.
Before getting too far ahead of ourselves here, let's define why we care about this topic in the first place. Simply put, a client portal gives businesses control over their customer data and interactions. It provides a single point of entry where customers can view information related to accounts, tasks, documents, etc., without having to jump back and forth between multiple applications and web pages.
In short, a client portal allows you to build an intuitive interface that helps both customers and employees alike take full advantage of your business' offerings. You might think of it like a dashboard that lets people easily monitor critical metrics and performance indicators. From there, you can direct them to specific tools and resources that allow them to work more efficiently and effectively.
Of course, a fully functioning client portal doesn't exist in a vacuum. To really drive engagement and improve overall productivity, you must integrate it into your CRM platform. This integration ensures that customers always have access to any new updates made to your CRM, allowing them to keep up with changes made by sales reps and managers alike.
On top of that, integrating your CRM and client portal together enables you to automate common processes whenever possible. For instance, once a deal has closed and a contract has been signed, you could automatically send the customer an invoice via email or SMS text message -- saving hours of manual labor.
While a lot of vendors offer integrated CRMs and client portals, only a few actually specialize in building software specifically tailored toward working professionals. So instead of using off-the-shelf products, it pays to shop around for solutions designed specifically for small businesses and freelancers.
There are three primary reasons why you'd want a client portal:
1) Customer retention
It goes without saying that retaining existing customers is crucial for any successful business. After all, loyal customers tend to spend more money than average customers, meaning they generate higher revenue per sale. That said, it's important to remember that even though you're likely investing significant capital into acquiring new customers, you shouldn't neglect your current ones. By providing regular communication channels, you increase the odds that your customers will turn to you again.
2) Data collection
As mentioned earlier, a client portal integrates seamlessly with your CRM software, ensuring that all customer activity is logged and accessible anywhere and anytime. This includes everything from basic contact info (name, address, phone number, etc.) to more complex details including notes, photos, invoices, receipts, etc. The result is that you no longer have to manually enter all of this data after every interaction -- simply log into the client portal, select the customer record, and click "Save."
Another perk of having a client portal is its ability to facilitate collaboration within your organization. Since everyone shares a central location to manage all contacts, projects, files, and other pieces of shared content, team members can share ideas and suggestions faster and easier than ever before. Plus, since everyone uses the same application, you don't have to worry about conflicting versions of documents floating around the office.
At least, that's the theory behind it anyway...
The main goal of a client portal is to serve as a centralized hub for managing customer relationships. As such, it serves two purposes simultaneously:
• Provide easy access to internal systems and resources
• Establish trust between customers and brand
You might ask yourself, "But isn't my website enough?" While it undoubtedly plays an integral role in driving traffic to your site, websites aren't typically used as digital storefronts. Instead, they function primarily as promotional vehicles that lead visitors to additional informational sources and/or purchase opportunities.
By contrast, a client portal acts as a virtual storefront that functions as a one-stop-shop for interacting with customers. In fact, it often replaces physical storefronts altogether. Think about it: Would you rather walk down the street to browse merchandise or sit in front of your computer screen and check prices instantly? Most people choose option #2, thanks to the convenience offered by online retailers.
That being said, there are plenty of benefits to offering a brick-and-mortar version of your business. Customers appreciate seeing a real person face-to-face when purchasing items, especially when dealing with high ticket purchases. Plus, it offers a chance for you to demonstrate your expertise and knowledge of your product(s), whether it be in regards to pricing, sizing, availability, warranty, return policies, etc.
Finally, a physical presence also keeps costs lower by eliminating overhead expenses associated with maintaining retail locations. Not to mention, it's nice to be able to show off your wares and talk to prospective buyers directly! Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and what works best for your particular situation.
Having a client portal built into your CRM software brings numerous advantages. First, it streamlines workflow by reducing redundant steps and unnecessary clicks. Second, it increases efficiency by automating repetitive tasks and letting team members focus on core responsibilities. Third, it improves employee morale by giving them greater visibility into customer requests and feedback. Finally, it saves both time and money by minimizing administrative efforts required to handle routine customer communications.
With that in mind, here are five ways you can leverage your client portal to boost productivity and profitability:
1) Automate recurring actions
Most organizations employ a variety of automated tactics to save time and reduce errors. One of the easiest and quickest methods is automation. With a client portal, you can program certain actions to occur automatically whenever certain criteria are met. For example, say you run a weekly promotion wherein you give away free stuff to customers who sign up for auto payments. All you have to do is set up a rule that triggers this action based on any qualifying transactions occurring during that week. Pretty simple, huh?
2) Reduce paper waste
Paperless offices are becoming increasingly prevalent throughout major industries due to growing concerns regarding environmental impact. However, that doesn't mean you should stop collecting documentation entirely. In fact, it's better to embrace electronic formats wherever possible. With a client portal, you can collect and organize customer records digitally, leaving less room for error.
3) Streamline operations
When you incorporate a client portal into your CRM, you unlock countless possibilities for improving operational efficiencies. For starters, you won't have to physically print and distribute flyers anymore. Rather, you can use your CRM to push messages straight to the inbox of anyone who signs up for mailing lists. At the same time, you can assign task reminders to individual team members so they never forget anything.
4) Increase revenues
One of the biggest perks of using a client portal is that it creates a seamless connection between the inside and outside worlds. When you combine it with effective marketing strategies, you can reach out to prospects anywhere in the world -- regardless of language barriers, cultural norms, or geographical distances. Of course, the more efficient your outreach process becomes, the more qualified leads you acquire. This ultimately translates to increased profits and growth.
5) Improve service quality
Customer satisfaction is arguably the most valuable asset you can possess. Unfortunately, poor customer service can destroy otherwise solid reputations overnight. Fortunately, implementing a client portal alleviates this issue completely by allowing teams to communicate directly with customers. Thus, your customers receive consistent responses and timely resolutions regardless of how busy the day gets.
You've decided to create a custom white label client portal that's easy to use, intuitive, and designed specifically for your customers. But how do you go about creating this new solution? And what should it contain?
A standard portal has some basic functionality in common across most companies, but if yours is unique or tailored toward one specific industry, then the content will need to be customized accordingly. This means not only creating portals for each individual company, but also making sure they all have the same look and feel -- and even more importantly, function similarly.
This isn't always simple, especially when you're working on your own time frame and budget. So we spoke with several experts who were willing to share their knowledge on exactly what makes up a good white label portal so you can get started quickly without wasting too much effort.
Portal software refers to any program that provides access to information from multiple users via a single website interface. It helps businesses manage employee workflows and interactions between internal teams as well as externally facing customers by providing them with secure online platforms where they can view documents, communicate electronically, collaborate, and stay informed. The software often contains features like document management, CRM integration, workflow automation, analytics, and chatbots, among others.
The benefit of using a portal rather than standalone applications or websites is that it allows employees to engage with other departments within the organization while still maintaining security. Some examples include Salesforce Chatter, Microsoft Teams, Google Docs, Dropbox Paper, Trello, Asana, Slack, Zoom, and Jira Software. All these programs provide similar functionalities regardless of which ones you choose.
It seems obvious, but many people aren’t aware of just how powerful a portal tool can be. In fact, there are dozens of ways that portals can help boost productivity, improve communication, and streamline processes. For instance, let’s say a company needs to send invoices to its vendors. Instead of having everyone manually enter data into spreadsheets or emailing PDF files back and forth, they can easily automate the entire process through a portal.
Another great way that portals can impact business operations is by allowing employees to interact directly with customers. They can give feedback on products, respond to questions, issue refunds, track orders, and even collect payments. If you run a retail store, for example, you can allow shoppers to check inventory levels and order items from inside the portal instead of waiting until they visit the physical location. Additionally, portals offer a wealth of benefits including increased engagement, improved retention rates, faster sales cycles, and better conversion rates.
There are endless possibilities for how you could incorporate a portal into your business model, and no matter what type of industry you operate in, chances are someone else already created a successful version of it first! To find out why, read our article titled "Why Every Business Needs A Portal."
One of the easiest (and least expensive) methods of building a portal is to purchase a ready-made template off the market. While templates are convenient because you don’t necessarily have to build everything from scratch, they may lack customization depending on whether you want something very professional looking or simply want to keep costs down. Plus, many of them come with a few limitations such as being unable to edit the theme colors, images, fonts, etc., thereby preventing you from changing anything outside of those core elements.
On the plus side, a lot of free portal solutions exist today that anyone can download and customize themselves. These tools usually require minimal technical expertise, and they tend to be highly customizable due to open source code. However, many of them are limited in terms of usability and scalability because they typically focus on smaller organizations. That said, if you're looking for a lightweight option, you might consider taking a look at Zapier, which offers thousands of apps and integrations.
Web portal software is essentially a combination of a portal application along with backend technology that supports it. There are two main types of portal systems available today: cloud-based and on-premise. Both options have pros and cons, but when deciding on which route to take, you'll likely weigh cost against ease of implementation.
Cloud-based portals are accessible anywhere over the internet, meaning that you won’t have to install anything locally. You can set up a private area that requires login credentials to gain access, though, so you must ensure adequate firewalls are in place before launching. On top of that, you won't know what performance issues are going to occur unless you test ahead of time and plan for growth.
On the flipside, you'll save money overall since you don't have to pay for servers and bandwidth fees, but you'll need to pay monthly subscription fees to maintain your platform. Also, it's important to note that cloud-based services are vulnerable to cyberattacks so you should research providers thoroughly beforehand.
If you decide to go with a traditional on-premise system, you'll definitely incur additional expenses upfront. You'll probably have to buy hardware, employ IT staff, and potentially hire consultants to assist with migration. However, after launch, it's relatively maintenance-free and scalable as long as you invest enough resources initially to cover future growth.
To learn more about how to select the right portal for your business, take a look at our guide to choosing the right agency. We explain how to evaluate various aspects of a provider, including pricing models, support availability, experience, training, certifications, and more.
1. Make it personal
The first step in designing any type of product or service is understanding the customer base. You need to know who they are, where they live, their hobbies, interests, lifestyle preferences, and more.
This information will help you understand who your target audience is and what makes them tick. This knowledge can be used when building your white label client portal so that it fits into their lives seamlessly and becomes part of their daily routine by making them want to return again and again. It also helps ensure that your company has something special that sets it apart from other companies offering similar products and services.
To start gathering all this vital data, you'll need to set up some surveys. These online questionnaires allow you to gather detailed insights into the needs and wants of your potential customers. Your survey questions could include things like:
Who are your current customers? Who would most likely buy from you if given the opportunity? What were their primary reasons for purchasing your goods/services previously? Are there any features that they'd love to see added to your service (e.g., mobile app)?
How often do they visit your website? Do they prefer social media channels such as Facebook or Twitter over email messages? How many times did they read emails sent via the web? Did they click on links within those emails? If yes, which ones?
Did they find
The term "client portal" may not be familiar yet, but it's one of those things that will become commonplace over time as more businesses begin using SaaS (software-as-a-service) apps like Salesforce or Zendesk. A client portal provides an easy way for customers who have purchased from you or signed up on your website to access their account information in realtime. It also helps them manage all aspects of their relationship with you—from billing, payments, marketing materials, and other important details.
A client portal can provide a lot of benefits to both sides of a business transaction, so if you're looking to start offering this service, here are some helpful guidelines to keep in mind when designing your own custom solution.
Whether you offer client portals as part of a subscription package or allow users to purchase individual add-ons, there are many ways your company could end up handling sensitive data such as credit card numbers. With this comes great responsibility, because any security breach could result in serious financial consequences. If you don't take the necessary steps to protect these assets, it could put your entire operation at risk.
To stay ahead of cybercriminals, it’s crucial to understand how they operate and what measures you should take to secure your accounts. You'll need to implement strong password policies, use two-factor authentication, and encrypt your databases whenever possible. These are just a few basic recommendations to help secure your system against potential threats. And while we recommend following standard cybersecurity advice, it's always better to err on the side of caution than to go too far and compromise your systems' integrity.
If you do decide to build your own white label client portal, check out our guide on creating secure passwords.
Many companies already know exactly why they want to create a client portal, but others might not quite grasp its true purpose until they see how effective it can really be. For example, it makes sense for most firms to include an online payment option for recurring subscriptions, especially since many people prefer paying by direct debit rather than sending checks every month. The same goes for adding extra features like invoicing templates or product catalogues.
But perhaps the biggest advantage of having a client portal is that it allows you to communicate directly with your customers. Whether you send new offers through email blasts or push notifications via social media channels, you now have instant access to feedback about your products and services. This means you can quickly respond to customer questions and complaints, which keeps everyone happy, and improves overall customer satisfaction.
As mentioned above, building your own white label client portal doesn't require special skills or programming experience, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that several different providers exist across multiple platforms. While each provider has slightly different capabilities, they tend to share similar goals, including making everything easier for customers and providing seamless integration between various sales tools.
Here are three popular options worth considering:
Zendesk - One of the largest players in the market, Zendesk boasts thousands of enterprise customers around the world, including well-known brands like Disney and Microsoft. Its customer portal is available for free download on desktop computers, mobile devices, and web browsers, allowing anyone to easily interact with their CRM without needing training.
Freshdesk - Another major player in the space, Freshdesk was founded by former Atlassian employees who wanted to bring the simplicity of Atlassian's JIRA project management tool into the realm of CRM automation. They've grown immensely over the past decade, and today boast millions of active user accounts worldwide. Their customer portal works seamlessly alongside their ticketing platform, and even includes built-in support for email campaigns.
Salesforce - Most experts agree that Salesforce remains the industry leader in terms of sheer size and popularity. That said, no matter which type of agency you work for, chances are you'll still find yourself interacting regularly with the cloud-based platform. In fact, according to Statista, Salesforce powers nearly half of all US businesses. But beyond being able to connect with customers from anywhere, Salesforce is known for its robust reporting tools and integrations with other applications like Google Analytics.
When it comes to pricing models, there's a wide range of possibilities depending on whether you choose to sell standalone licenses or bundle them together under a single contract agreement. Some vendors charge per seat, whereas others let you pay only for specific modules based on usage. Pricing structures vary widely, so it's impossible to give general estimates before fully assessing your needs. However, if you'd like to get started with pricing for a simple client portal, consider these figures:
Salesforce - Starting from $20/seat ($4.50/user), Salesforce charges 10 cents per minute for calls, 5 cents per megabyte for emails sent through the app, 1 cent per call made within the app, and 2 cents for SMS messages. Other fees depend on the plan selected.
Zendesk - Although pricing varies considerably among different plans, the base price ranges from $7-$15/seat. There are additional costs associated with certain configurations, however, like the number of seats required or the amount of storage needed.
Freshdesk - Prices start at $17/month for five seats, then increase incrementally depending on the number of users you expect to serve.
These prices aren't set in stone, though. Many factors play into determining final rates, including your budget, the scope of customization requested, and how long you intend to maintain the application after initial installation. To learn more about pricing for your particular situation, contact us to discuss your requirements and get personalized quotes.
In addition to choosing a vendor, there are plenty of other decisions to make when setting up your client portal. Below are some handy resources to help you along the way:
Best Practices Guide - Developed by Nucleus Software, this comprehensive guide covers everything from basic setup instructions to advanced topics like multi-tenancy and third party API integrations.
Client Portal Template Library - Created by MobiDev, this library contains hundreds of ready-to-use templates for common tasks, ranging from creating welcome pages and newsletters to collecting signatures during onboarding processes.
FAQs About Client Portals - Written by the team behind the Salesforce1 App Builder, this FAQ answers frequently asked questions about CRM solutions and integrates seamlessly with the rest of the suite.
Become CEO of your own lead generation software company, just follow our battle-tested guidelines and rake in the profits.