It's no easy feat to meet your customers' needs. People expect easy ways to access the products or services they're paying for, see their accounts and communicate with a business. If you can’t deliver, they may move on to someone who can. These may seem like overwhelming responsibilities, but much of this can be taken care of by providing an online customer portal.
Though a customer portal does sound a little jargony, what we're talking about is essentially just a secure website where people can log in and interact with your business. Setting one up doesn’t have to be difficult either, with a number of no-code and low-code tools you can use to build and launch a customer portal of your own.
The benefits of having a customer portal
Customer portals are useful across a variety of industries. Banks offer them to their customers letting them take care of their accounts and perform actions (like cancelling a lost credit card). Health care providers give their customers an easy way to find doctors, pay bills, and schedule appointments. Design agencies might use customer portals to give customer's the ability to track progress and offer direct feedback on ongoing projects. There’s a multitude of ways customer portals can be used to help people out in accessing information and accomplishing what they need to take care of.
Customer portals can help both your business and customers including:
Speeding up the onboarding process
Providing a safe and secure platform for uploading and downloading documents
Submitting customer requests and tracking their statuses
Offering an organised, centralised place for staff and customers to communicate
Viewing and paying invoices
Offering content like articles, tutorials, and other materials
Changing or updating account information
• Customer portals save you and your customers time
Customer portals empower customers with the resources and tools they need to find the solutions to problems they are having. There’s no need to call customer service and wait on hold. Instead, they get autonomy and immediacy in taking care of whatever they need to do.
This helps you out as well. When your customers can take care of their issues on their own, it frees you up to put your focus on other aspects of your business.
Luckily, when they do need to speak to customer service, having a customer portal in place lets both of you keep a written record of all communication and allows any member of a team to seamlessly pick up the conversation where it left off.
• They can help build a community around your business
An online discussion forum can be an important interactive feature of a customer portal. A message board allows customers to ask questions, get answers, and share information about your products or business. It brings people together and makes your company more than just an anonymous entity that sells something.
A discussion forum is also a great way to directly engage with your customers. It’s a space where you can jump in and offer advice. You can also stay up to date with issues and concerns your customers may be having and take care of them right away.
Offering an online discussion board builds personal connections between your customers and your brand, which is so important in making people excited about what you do and growing your business.
• They're an extension of your brand’s identity
A customer portal is an extension of your branding. It speaks in the same tone and has the same colours, typography, logos, and other visual elements that people associate with your brand. Anyone landing on your customer portal should recognise right away that it’s a part of your company.
What to look for in a no-code customer portal
No-Code removes the barriers of having to know how to program or design. It allows people to build things like websites, apps, and software all without having to enter a single line of code. Low-code, on the other hand, means that you’ll need a deeper level of familiarity with how code works, but much of the busy work is taken care of by the tool in question. With a bit of patience and the willingness to learn, you can use a no-code tool in building a customer portal for your business. Most offer intuitive, visual interfaces that make the process straightforward.
• Custom branding
Most no-code platforms offer templates and other frameworks to work with. Of course, you’re going to want it to reflect your brand. It should be easy to change the colours, fonts, images, and other graphics so it looks consistent with your brand identity and reassures your customers that they are in the right place. Choose a no-code tool that allows you to customise your portal so that it looks exactly how you’d like.
• Responsive across different platforms
Whether someone is accessing your customer portal on a smartphone, desktop, or tablet they should all have a similar experience. Make sure that you choose a no-code builder that generates a responsive website that will work no matter what screens your customers are using.
• Easy access to your data
Customer portals make it possible for data to be exchanged in multiple ways. Make sure that you use a no-code builder that offers simple ways of managing data and pulling that data in from other services you use. Whether you’re using something like Airtable, Google Sheets, Salesforce, or something else, look for a customer portal builder that makes it easy to connect and tap into this data.
• Custom workflows
Whatever you require from a workflow, you should have the power to create something specifically for your use. Many no-code builders use modules you can link together. Doing things like connecting databases, sending automated emails, triggering notifications, and other actions should all be possible through a simple series of actions.
The benefits to your customers
Customer portals make interacting with your business more convenient. Instead of calling you up, or stopping by, they can connect any time. Wherever they are and whatever the time they can view their invoices, make payments, and take care of anything else when they want to.
• Quick communication
If you’re dealing with multiple avenues in how people communicate with your business it can be tough to respond promptly. A customer portal provides a single means of communication making sure that you don’t miss anything that your customers send you. Quicker response times lead to happier customers.
• Content to help guide them
A customer portal acts as an ongoing library of useful materials for your customers. Include onboarding content, video tutorials, articles, and product updates to keep your customers in the loop about your business and what you offer.
3 useful tools to use
Even if you have a small or medium-sized business having a customer portal will benefit you and your customers. Let’s look at three that can get you up and running.
We’re fans of the level of control Stacker gives you. They make it easy to implement your branding and get creative with your design. What really shines are the custom dashboards and permissions, making it possible to create different classes of users, who may have access to certain data or functionality. If you’re using Salesforce, Google Sheets, or Airtable you’ll also find it easy to link with these platforms for data management.
Stacker offers a user-friendly platform that can be used for a variety of different businesses. A glance through their showcase features marketing, finance, education, and other types of companies that have all used it to build their customer portals.
Stacker is a powerful no-code app that makes building a customer portal an intuitive and straightforward experience.
Full disclosure: NoCode.Tech was bought by Stacker in early 2022. Our editorial independence means that we review Stacker completely impartially – as we do every other tool in the no-code space.
We like the fact that Internal.io covers the entire spectrum of expertise. For those without formal developer training, they offer an uncomplicated interface that makes it possible to put together a customer portal in a short amount of time. If you have someone on your team who is trained as a developer they’ll find the API and database tools not only easy to use but capable of creating sophisticated and powerful workflows.
Internal.io offers much in terms of versatility, making it a great choice for developers and non-developers alike.
Budibase falls into the low-code category but provides plenty of great-looking pre-built elements. You’ll find templates for work orders, maintenance scheduling forms, and complaints records. Having these ready-made forms saves you time and effort.
You also get the capability to customise much of what they offer. If you want to change up the UI, create custom data fields, and utilise unique forms, Budibase gives you the flexibility to create something personalised for you and your customers.
There’s also plenty here for developers to take advantage of making it possible to integrate with anything that uses a REST API. Connecting Airtable, working with APIs like Discord, and infrastructure like Kubernetes are all made possible through Budibase. We know this sounds like complicated stuff, and it can be. If these sound like things out of a sci-fi movie, don’t worry.
For those who aren’t afraid of a small learning curve, Budibase offers a low-code platform for creating powerful and well-designed customer portals.
No-Code opens up design to everyone
It used to be that only those who had development expertise could make something with as many moving parts as a customer portal. No-Code has democratised web design. Where customer portals were once only available for those with big budgets, even small to medium-sized businesses can now build and launch them without expending a bunch of money and effort.