Client portal – What is it and why your company needs one today!
When interacting with clients, business owners find themselves consuming a large amount of time in the exchange of countless phone calls and emails. In the majority of cases, those communications have to do with transactions, payments and other details related to sales. The above description belongs to the past. Nowadays, advances in technology give you the chance to create your own client portal.
The overhead created is every business owner’s nightmare. Keeping all this information neat and in one place is an everyday challenge, and a costly one. Especially if your business is growing, this overhead grows with it and along rise the costs and confusion.
Moreover, apart from the overhead and its related drawbacks, the matter of security is often a problem. All those interactions contain sensitive financial and business data that, in the wrong hands, could cause great damage to both you and your customers.
So, to properly address this cluster of issues in a highly effective way, you need to know everything that a client portal offers, before creating your own.
What is a client portal?
For decades, businesses have been using collaboration tools to enable the flow of information within their companies. Those tools are what we call intranets – systems that allow authorized personnel to access the company’s management software and collaborate efficiently in a completely safe environment.
They worked so well internally that it was inevitable to extend the same functionalities for external business processes. This is when the concept of client portals was perceived and now companies enjoy their undeniable benefits.
Consider the company portal as a private, protected website where you can share and exchange sensitive information with your clients. By creating your own client portal, you can make available to them all your invoices, quotes, and other important documents. Thus, you don’t have to send them via email or discuss them over the phone. You can also share progress and important metrics (total tracked time, costs and billable amounts) regarding ongoing projects so that your clients are always up to date with the work you do. Of course, they can have access to the client portal by logging in with a username/password set and browse through every document you want them to see.
Benefits of using a client portal
Improve customer collaboration
Your client portal can the best extension of your customer support services. Imagine your company portal as a place where your clients can navigate through all their invoices, their entire transactions’ history and pay you online in a matter of seconds. All of this is possible without any action on your part, other than issuing invoices, quotes and uploading relevant documents. Your clients get to download files of all these transactions, at any given moment, which means the end of confusion between “their” balance and “your” balance. This process consumes time and makes collaborating ten times harder, you don’t want that!
The customer portal offers a streamlined process that is easy for the client to understand and follow. They no longer have to call you to send them again that invoice from last year or to get notified of the amount due to your company.
On the other hand, your company portal is interactive, meaning that you can keep track of your clients’ moves via email notifications. Did your client view a document? You get notified! Did they just pay you online? You know it! When was the last time they logged in to the client portal? You have all the details about that, too.
One of the main benefits of using a client portal is that you don’t have to send emails anymore or follow them up for that matter! Moreover, sending out printed invoices via courier or traditional post service requires time to print, enclose in an envelope and even more time for the client to actually get the documents.
Using a company portal does away with all those time-consuming processes and your client care activities are constantly up-to-date, effortlessly!
Time is money; no true entrepreneur can argue against that. By saving time from repetitive tasks you get to allocate that time to other, more meaningful ones, that can bring in sales to your small business.
Apart from that, the traditional means of communication carry certain costs. Phone calls cost your company; mail and courier companies charge you for their services as well. Printing documents also translates into paper and ink supplies.
One of the most important benefits of having a client portal is eliminating said recurring costs. Of course, putting a company portal in place requires money, especially if you build a custom made one. But, creating your own client portal pays so much more in the long run and is a one-time expense.
Elorus’s client portal, however, can be used even by those subscribed to the free plan and without any additional charges for those in a paid plan.
Improve your cashflow
Your company portal also enables you to accept payments online for your invoices, which is the fastest payment method these days. Picture a process similar to this:
The customers log into your client portal and get instant information about outstanding amounts. Then, they click on the “payment” button and proceed with the payment submitting their credit card details. The payment is being processed on the spot and in 1-2 working days tops, the money is available to your account.
One would wish payments were that simple, without a company portal too! In a previous article, we thoroughly explained how online payments can boost your company’s cash flow. The concept is simple though; the easier you make the payment process for the client, the faster you get what is owed to you!
Your data is secure
Client portals, especially cloud-based ones, use the latest security software available to ensure your financial data are completely safe. SSL encryption, firewalls, virus protection and VPN are among the most important measures taken to avoid hacking or losing the integrity of your documents.
What’s more, when you create your own portal, you choose who has access to your company portal. In some cases, you even get to choose the levels of access different users can have. Sensitive financial information is now available to authorized persons only, something impossible when sending your invoices via email or post.
Your clients can log in to your client portal anytime and from anywhere, as long as they have an active internet connection. Moreover, the majority of online client portals have a responsive design, meaning that your customers can view their account from their smartphone or tablet while on the road, for example.
When you handle the largest part of your day to day operations through your customer service portal, then your team has the luxury to focus on important issues, like training on new technologies or expanding your sales.
The Client portal makes a difference
Client portals are here to make interactions with your clients easier, more effective and a lot more secure for both sides. Information flows smoothly and everyone is on the same page, all of the time. Setting up a client portal adds a competitive edge to your company without spending a fortune!
Register for a free Elorus account today, create your own portal and find out more about how a client portal can make a difference to your company!