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How does the customer portal support internal (sales) efficiency?

Part 4 of a 5-part blog series on how to succeed with your digital initiative.

Jonas Prosell / June 13, 2023
Read more about our digital services

Customer expectations and needs are undeniably important, but let me share a little secret: internal productivity plays a starring role when some of our clients embark on the journey of crafting their next customer portal. Our clients understand that achieving productivity is the magic ingredient for success.

The pursuit of greater productivity often centers around two key areas: sales efficiency, and scalable customer service. The potential benefits extend far beyond that. The good news is that the objectives of enhancing customer experience, and boosting internal efficiency don't have to be at odds with each other. (stay tuned for more on that topic) What's more, it adds an extra touch of joy for employees when they get to work in a modern and forward-thinking environment.

Digital selling and self-service through customer portals do not replace personal sales and customer service, they complement each other. Customers want to be able to choose between the digital channel and the personal one, depending on what suits them best. They also expect consistent information and a cohesive approach. To live up to this expectation, the customer portal should not be an isolated application that operates independently. We believe that all sales channels should work together so that the sales team can benefit from the information gathered about the customer through the customer portal. Information on the customer and digital exchanges with the customer becomes an integrated part of the sales process.

Who should be involved in the project?

If we involve the salespeople and customer service staff early in the process of designing the next customer portal, we are most likely to achieve a better solution in meeting customer needs, but also for increased productivity. We have great experience of this approach, from projects we have implemented with clients. Salespeople gain more confidence in the solution's functionality and how it is meeting customer requirements if they have been involved and provided input throughout the journey. This in turn will make sales a driving force in promoting the solution to customers. A high share of customers using the customer portal is obviously a prerequisite for success. 

The customer portal provides the selling company with the opportunity to serve more customers with lower effort, while salespeople can focus on providing advice and expertise to their customers instead of handling information or acting as order receivers. It also makes the sales job more enjoyable by removing more routine tasks that are instead automated and managed by the customer themselves.

When the ambition to offer digital sales and service aligns with customers' own preferences, well, then there is no reason not to offer them this opportunity.

Engage sales and customer service by:

Expected outcome:

Requesting input in the development project

A better solution for the customer portal

Training the sales team and encouraging them to invite customers to pilot test the solution

Increased confidence in the functionality of the solution

Preparing demos that can be used in customer meetings to showcase the customer portal

Increased customer onboarding

Creating incentive programs for the sales team

Sales promoting onboarding and utilization frequency of digital interfaces

Creating sales-supporting tools and features

Increased sales efficiency

Automating mundane tasks

Increased employee satisfaction and sales efficiency

Gathering information about recurring issues, questions and problems from customers

Improved customer journey and customer satisfaction

More benefits!

There are productivity gains to be found in customer service, when the customer can easily find answers to common questions and perform recurring transactions. It can also provide the selling company with the opportunity to streamline other behind-the-scenes processes. This may involve production planning and logistics, for example. We see that the customer portal often acts as a catalyst for digital transformation, which often enables further productivity improvements. More on this in my next blog. 

The companies that succeed in aligning their digital efforts with personal sales tend to grow faster. Additionally, valuable insights are generated that we can leverage for innovations and new revenue streams. Through these insights, we can benefit from an enhanced and expanded offering.

The role of the IT department in the project

Primarily, it is the business that sets the requirements when we design the solution, especially the key individuals who have close customer relationships. Therefore, it is not typically the IT department that takes the driver's seat in these projects. Instead IT plays a crucial role as an enabler, ensuring a scalable technical solution allows the business to grow in the future.

So, when transactions are automated, information retrieval becomes effortless, and customer service seamlessly flows, you're ready to fully utilize the true potential of a flexible and scalable customer portal. It acts as a gateway that enhances the customer journey and drives your profitability to new heights. The beauty of it all is that, when properly designed, the goals of creating a better customer experience and a more enjoyable workplace align with increased internal efficiency. Not bad at all, wouldn't you agree?

In the next chapter, I will tell you more on how digital commerce becomes an icebreaker for digital transformation.

Read part 1/5 in my blog series: The customer portal is hotter than ever
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 5/5 in my blog series: Digital Commerce serves as an icebreaker för digital transformation

Jonas Prosell
Senior Business Consultant
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