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The customer portal is hotter than ever

A customer portal offers numerous benefits to businesses looking to improve customer satisfaction and streamline communication.

Jonas Prosell / January 30, 2023

The Customer Portal is a reasonably neutral concept that has been around for a while, but we at Tietoevry Create have seen more focus on B2B over the past three years. And this is something of an understatement. The customer portal is red-hot!

Why is it hot, then? Well, the answer is straightforward if you think about it. If the pot was brewing before the pandemic, it began to boil during the pandemic, customer behavior changed dramatically during this time, and the need for digital interfaces to interact with professional buyers accelerated enormously. And now it turns out that the behavior change is permanent. Therefore, many companies have now realized that the customer portal is a central point of contact in the customer journey for returning customers. ­­­­­­

In addition, companies have gained deeper insights that customer data is the new gold and that the logged-in state creates opportunities to get to know the customer on a deeper level. Companies can gain insights into their customers' interests and ­­any problems they might be facing, and they can use these insights to personalize content, ­create relevance, develop the customer journey further, and provide valuable input into how the experience­­­­ should be developed.

To live up to the professional buyer's requirements for digital interfaces.

It is good to start with the customer to understand why the customer portal is essential. After all, customer needs are in focus in all types of trading. We are all consumers, and most of us shop digitally. Both for practical reasons, to save time and money, and because it is convenient. Whether we are bored or want to be inspired, what, how, and when we e-shop, everyone knows what is possible. And that expectation and that level of experience we bring into our professional lives. So, the bar for B2B trading has been raised in recent years.­­­­­

Simultaneously, e-commerce and digital services for consumers set the standard for convenience and simplicity, but professional buyers are already there in the digital channel. They spend a considerable part of their buying journey digitally, searching for information to solve their problem and comparing products or solutions between potential suppliers, often long before contacting a salesperson. ­­­­

And once they become customers, they want to continue to serve themselves when it suits them, retrieve information when it's timely, educate themselves when they have a gap in their schedule, and plan for maintenance, upgrades, etc., when appropriate. This is where the customer portal comes into the picture. ­­­­­­­­

We've built customer portals for various industries, ranging from Medtech to steel pipes, and we're seeing some moves that resonate with professional buyers.

  • Time is money
    Buyers want to save valuable working time. It should be quick to find what they are looking for. Recurring orders need to be facilitated. ­
  • Risk avoidance
    It is critical for professional buyers to find the right product. They want to make the right choice. The consequences of an incorrect purchase can, in the worst-case lead to production stops, delays, or machine failure.
  • Controlling the engagement
    Professional buyers want to have a handle on their engagement with the selling company. They want to get an overview of their order history and find documents such as safety data sheets, certificates, etc. They also want to be able to see their prices and their invoices, among other things.
  • Choice
    Professional buyers still want to talk to a seller when required, but preferably when they need expert advice. Often the customer wants to acquire knowledge himself before the contact is made.
  • Self-serving is easier
    Professional clients want to be able to perform simple transactions or information gathering automatically or by themselves.

Growth is faster in digital channels than in physical

In our contacts with companies from various B2B industries, we see that some selling companies still need to be on track or have only come a little on their journey to digitize their customer experience. Many companies also remain at the base level of offering standard products and simple self-service.

At the same time, many industries have come a long way, and enormous values are already being conveyed digitally between the companies. In some industries, more money is already being generated digitally B2B than sales through a salesperson. And growth happens faster in digital channels than in physical ones. The general trend is that digital sales are approaching, or even surpassing, in-person sales in many B2B industries.

The customer portal gives the selling company a uniform and secure way to meet its customers' expectations, offer them added value, distinguish itself from competitors, and increase long-term customer relationship profitability while collecting data that enables new insights into customer needs.­­­

What drives companies' investments in customer portals

In summary, we see the following driving forces explaining why customer portals are in high demand right now:

  1. Customer expectations
    Professional buyers need better digital solutions and have expectations of a modern supplier. This is what selling companies in B2B have realized.
  2. The customer journey
    The customer portal is needed to meet the customer where the customer carries out a large part of their buying journey as a returning customer, i.e., in digital channels, and keep the customer from competitors who offer better support.
  3. Productivity gains
    The customer portal streamlines processes, increases productivity, and enables better scalability of the business.
  4. Knowledge of the customer
    Through the customer portal, customer data is obtained, and a platform for innovation to sell more to existing customers, increase customer lifetime value, and expand the market.

To conclude, the customer portal thus improves profitability in terms of short- and long-term revenue, an opportunity to save money through efficiency, and a platform for innovation and growth. No wonder then that there is a willingness to invest.


Read part 2/5 in my blog series: The right functionality for value creation.
Read part 3/5 in my blog series: How to smartly build a value-creating customer portal.
Read part 4/5 in my blog series: How the customer portal contributes to internal efficiency.
Read part 5/5 in my blog series: Digital Commerce serves as an icebreaker för digital transformation


Jonas Prosell
Senior Business Consultant
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