B2B Customer Support | | Published August 11, 2016

Online Customer Support Portal Benefits for Your Business

These days, many people prefer self-service support options over contacting customer support through phone or email. Data cited by Capterra revealed 75 percent of customers want to solve product or service issues on their own without having to rely on an agent. The best way to help customers find these self-service support options is through an online customer portal - a one-stop shop for online support. Online customer portals provide a space for customers to create and manage their tickets, review documents and policies, find knowledge base articles and watch instructional videos. Here are four reasons why your businesses should have an online customer portal:

An online customer portal brings all of your self-service support options into one easy-to-use location.
An online customer portal brings all of your self-service support options into one easy-to-use location.

1. Customers want self-service
According to Microsoft's 2016 Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report, 90 percent of customers worldwide expect businesses to provide online customer self-service portals. This is especially true in countries such as the U.K. (94%) and U.S. (90%) where customer support is a high priority. Providing an online portal is an essential part of creating a satisfying support experience. After all, customers that don't have their basic expectations met are more likely to leave for a business that provides them, even if their business is not as good. 

On the other hand, when an organization does meet expectations, customers are more likely to promote that business among their peers. This also leads to more opportunities within the organization as well as word-of-mouth referrals.

2. Portals enable self-service
Portals give customers access to many basic tools used by agents. In the past, if a customer wanted to know the status of an open ticket, he or she would have to contact a member of your support team and wait for a rep to respond. Now, customers can find this information independently through a customer support portal, giving them a sense of control over their support issue.

A comprehensive B2B support software will also allow customers to chat with agents directly via the portal, engaging in real-time conversation over the status of their ticket. Consider a business that creates productivity apps and software for other organizations. If a customer is experiencing an urgent issue, he or she can search the portal for a related article. If they can't find what they're looking for, they can chat with an agent without leaving the customer portal. This means the customer gets an answer right away, and the customer and agent don't have to engage in a time consuming back-and-forth discussion over email.

3. Portals present information logically
If you provide self-service options - a good idea for every business - then your customers need a convenient method of accessing them. Otherwise, if your wiki articles, how-to videos and other important documents are scattered around your site, your customers get lost or confused and are unable to take advantage of these great options.

"Online customer support portals collect all of your self-service features in a convenient, accessible area."

Online customer support portals collect all of your self-service features in a convenient, accessible area, displaying information in a way that's easy for customers to understand. They don't have to search through your entire site to find a particular article or hop back and forth between sections to create a ticket and watch a video tutorial. Instead, they're able to take care of all of their support needs in one convenient location.

4. Customer portals reduce agent workloads
Every business wants to increase employee efficiency while maximizing customer satisfaction. Online customer support portals do this. Because customers can look up the status of their own tickets, agents don't have to spend time answering questions such as, "Has someone looked at my ticket yet?"

In addition, online customer portals actually reduce the overall number of incoming tickets by directing customers to other options - like suggested solutions - even after a customer has started the process of creating a ticket. As the customer types, the suggested solutions feature picks up key words and phrases. It finds related articles and other self-service support options, then instantly presents these to the customer. With these answers, many customers can solve their support issues on their own without submitting a ticket. Thus, by reducing the number of overall tickets, agents can focus on addressing more difficult questions.

B2B organizations need a customer support solution that provides an online customer portal. Using a portal does more than meet customer expectations - it gives them a single area to find all of the support options they need.