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The importance of carefully selecting the right functionality for value creation when building the customer portal

One can create opportunities to meet and surpass high customer expectations and develop valuable relationships over time by building customer portals with carefully selected content and functionality.

Jonas Prosell / February 16, 2023

Professional buyers expect the availability of digital interfaces to interact with their suppliers. And suppliers have very good reasons for living up to those expectations. The after-market is of central importance in many industries and accounts for a large part of the profitability.

Long-term value in B2B customer relationships

It is an established truth that retaining a customer through excellent delivery and great service costs less than acquiring a new customer. Since customer relationships are often long-term and have a high lifetime value, taking good care of your customers is a very reasonable prioritization. By building customer portals with carefully selected content and functionality, suppliers can create great opportunities to meet and surpass high customer expectations and develop valuable relationships over time.

Investments with suppliers are often significant in B2B, and the buyer needs to get a return. So, what creates value for the buyer? Since the value arises throughout the product's entire lifespan, it is important to optimize the value of the investment from the purchase onward. This applies to the customer's perception of the value created and the concretely added value.

Through the customer portal, we can collect data about the customer's engagement, learn what they are interested in, and how they use their products. With that knowledge as a base, we can build an experience that provides a higher value for the customer.

Value-creating content and functionality

A smooth path should lead the customer into the portal, as the customer portal is a part of the customer’s digital buying journey. That journey is paved by digital marketing, web content, and other customer-facing touchpoints. It should lead through to the gates of the portal in a smooth flow. That experience should provide the perception that becoming a customer is easy and desirable. Once the gates to the portal are opened, the customer portal is a tool for taking care of returning customers. It offers a logged-in and secure space for content and services.

The customer portal creates engagement with the customer throughout the customer's relationship with the selling company. It also meets the professional customer's needs by providing self-service, making recurring orders easier for the customer, finding related products, and making new purchases. In addition, added value is offered, which allows the customer to get even more benefits from their product. A logged-in customer usually encounters three main categories of functionality. These are:

  1. Self-service functionality Includes everything from providing access to an overview of engagement, history, information, and documents to different transactions.
  2. Added value Features that optimize or increase the value of the product or service that has been purchased.
  3. Ability to shop for products and services Customers can buy standard or customized products and easily find spare parts, kits, or consumables for the already purchased machine, tool, or equipment. In addition, there is the possibility of repurchasing, acquiring related products or services, and upgrading and carrying out the next purchase to expand capacity or replace an older product.

Creating new layers of value-creating functionality in a customer portal

In addition to the basic level with self-service, spare parts, and documents, we can create different types of monitoring, service alerts, reports, training modules, production planning tools, and more, which give the buying customer a higher value of their investment. We can thus create more satisfied customers by maximizing the benefit and return on investment. This is done by helping the customer optimize the utilization or extend the product's life. In addition, the thresholds against competitors are raised when we create digital value for our customers.

The customer portal also enables additional cross- and up sales. When we collect digital information about the customer's products and use of products, we can offer accessories for the customer's product, complements, service packages, consumables, subscriptions, and upgrades in the customer portal, and we can sometimes even predict the next investment or major purchase.

Through the customer portal, we thus create a basis for data-driven decisions, allowing us to trim the digital sales process. That information can be truly beneficial to your in-person sales efforts as well.

The customer portal contributes to profitability through improved customer satisfaction, sales, and streamlining of processes. Which functionality is most important, and in what order should you build these functions should be based on your customers' needs and your business goals.

In the next part of this blog series, I will focus more on how to find a smart way forward to build a value-creating customer portal.

Read part 1/5 in my blog series: Why customer portal is hotter than ever.
Read part 3/5 in my blog series: How do we smartly build a customer portal.
Read part 4/5 in my blog series: 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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