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How do we smartly build a value-creating customer portal?

Do what gives you the most bang for the buck, and creates most value for your customers.

Jonas Prosell / March 14, 2023
Read more about our digital services here

Let us suggest a clear starting point and a well-proven approach to make sure you get the most bang for your buck. First, answer the question of what creates the most benefit for your customers, and use that answer as a foundation to help you reach your business goals.

In a post-pandemic world, it is necessary to be present in the digital channels where customers expect to meet and trade with their suppliers. But customers still want to be able to ask for advice from a person if necessary. This means that we need to tailor to both personal and digital touchpoints. The customer journey needs to be coherent and allow the customer to switch between modes of interaction without losing any information along the way. Fast-growing companies succeed in creating value for customers by combining in-person contacts with digital interactions. Make sure you understand that journey, and­­­­­­­­­­­­­ build the customer portal based on your customer’s needs.

The B2B companies we meet often start by offering their customers what is most necessary. And that is not entirely wrong. Launching the first version of your portal to get quickly on track is a very clever idea. Once established, you need to learn fast about what would improve your customers' journey and develop the right functionality and experience based on your findings. Internal digital maturity often needs to evolve simultaneously, building competence and capacity within the selling company to drive digital development forward at the necessary speed.

We find that a natural development curve with B2B sellers can be described by the following steps:

Create basic functionality

  • Create cost-effective solutions that generate immediate value for the customer through simple self-service functions such as order history, access to documents, invoices, etc. ­­­­Both to meet customer needs and to streamline the work and cooperation within the selling company.
  • Offer purchases from the standard product portfolio via the webshop. ­­­­
  • Set goals, and follow up the results through measurement, analysis, and tests. Start building experience and competence in basing your best practices on data-driven insights.

Add value and expand the offer

  • Add more complex self-service functionality.
  • Create a unique and cohesive experience across platforms.
  • Offer added value linked to already purchased products such as service alerts, service scheduling, optimization of output & performance, upgrades, digital ­­­guides, or digital training.
  • Enable purchasing of more complex configurable, or customized products.
  • Create tools that can support the sales force to achieve better sales efficiency. In this way, in-person sales relate to your digital commerce and will contribute to increased sales efficiency and a coherent experience.
  • Ensure that digital customer solutions are trusted and used by a variety of functions within the company ­­­ to offer a cohesive experience.

Focus and increase the pace

  • Give digital commerce real focus throughout the organization and create insight that the investment­­ affects everyone and not just functions with direct customer contact. What follows is often an accelerated pace in development which drives the digital transformation within the company.
  • Expand the capacity to make data-driven decisions that reach deeper and include, for example, areas such as product and service development.
  • Develop the business model. Create new revenue streams and services through
    digital commerce.

Think MVP

Indeed, there are companies that "skip" steps and directly aim higher already from the start. Formulating a long-term vision for what you want to achieve with your digital commerce is an excellent idea. However, our experience is that you do not have to do everything at once. Instead, choosing a point of departure where you create real impact is important. What do your customers need? And what improves your business? Identify what you need to build and what needs to be included in the solution, but no more than that. Prioritize away everything that is not necessary. We call it an MVP (Minimum Viable Product). ­­­­­­

Technology is an enabler, and there are several possible paths to explore, but be sure to build in a way that makes you flexible and allow you to adapt solution over time. No matter where you stand in your development curve, you must make constant choices, depart from the current situation, and create and maintain a great roadmap. We propose a structured approach, where we work with continuous improvements based on data. ­Never ­­settle down­; ensure that there is a continued will and drive to develop your digital value along with your customers ­to create continued competitiveness.

In the next part, I will write about how customer portals can improve your sales efficiency.


Read part 1/5 in my blog series: Why customer portal is hotter than ever.
Read part 2/5 in my blog series: The right functionality for value creation.
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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