Purchasing and implementing customer portal software (also known as client portal software) for your company is a big decision. With dozens of software vendors available, it can be intimidating as you try to find the solution that will fit your company’s needs and that can be easily be integrated into your business.
If your business is choosing to implement customer portal software, then you must already be aware of the benefits that cloud SaaS can offer your business, regardless of size and industry. For instance, some of these benefits include added security for document and information management, increased flexibility for remote employees, improved client retention and loyalty, and increased brand awareness with the customised workspaces for team members and clients.
So, as you’re making an extremely important decision; here are ten questions that you should definitely be asking before deciding to purchase any customer portal software for your business.
“What do I need the customer portal to do?”
Your company will have a different reason for implementing customer portal software in comparison with the next company, and some solutions may work better for your needs than others. For instance, if you are a small accountancy firm (read: Choosing Client Portal Software For Accountants), you will need a customer portal to securely share sensitive documentation with individual clients. Therefore, you should prioritise the file management capabilities within the prospective solution – including multiple file uploading, version control, file permissions and secure external sharing.
“How customisable is the customer portal software?”
If you require a fully branded solution then it’s important to check the customisation options included in the software pricing, to avoid any hidden costs. You’ll find that most vendors also offer add-ons, for instance, Clinked offers customers the additional option to white-label their mobile app. Having your brand consistently in all touch points with the customer leads to trust and loyalty. So, It’s important to check that the software solution will be able to meet your company’s branding guidelines before making your purchase.
“Will it be easy enough for my entire team to use?”
In order to achieve success with your customer portal, you need to ensure that your whole team understand how to use the software with ease and are willing to get on board. Whether that means you need to check if the vendor offers training for your team and clients, or that you are happy to show them yourself; you won’t achieve good value for money if half of your team are unable to get to grips with the new solution.
“Does the software support mobile devices?”
With mobile phones being an integral part of everyday life, both personal and working, it is worth asking the software vendor about the mobile device support options. As one of the benefits of cloud-based customer portal software being the flexibility of having access to your documents and conversations from anywhere – an added bonus would be the option of a branded mobile app version of the solution, for even easier access for clients and team members.
“How will my data be protected?”
It’s important to recognise the risks of storing your data in the cloud and to understand the options that the software vendor can offer you to ensure that your information is protected from external threats (such as hackers). For instance, most software vendors offer bank-grade level security as a minimum, and they may also offer to implement multi-factor authentication, end-to-end encryption or even a private cloud solution.
“How are the updates and upgrades managed?”
The beauty of web-based software is that all updates and upgrades should be made immediately available to users, without disturbing business. This means that your solution should always be the most up-to-date version, and will be managed and maintained by the vendor, giving your company one less thing to think about.
“How will I receive support from the vendor?”
It’s important to establish when and how support will be available from the software vendor. You should find out the hours of availability because your customer portal software could go down outside of your traditional 9 am – 5 pm working hours, and in urgent cases, you would require a fast turnaround time (check the response time with the vendor). You should also understand the types of support that will be available, such as email, telephone, and a FAQs page; and how each of these will be available to your business.
“How much is it going to cost and is it scalable?”
In evaluating the cost of implementing a customer portal solution, make sure you assess its value. You may have decided to go for this, as it could save you some time. Even if that means 15 minutes will be saved in searching through an email thread, which works out to 5 hours in a month of your time – you can put a value to that.
Additionally, there are the intangible benefits of offering better customer service – which could mean better customer satisfaction and increased referrals. You should also consider the scalable options on offer, in the event that you may need to increase (or decrease) storage space, user capacity or features in the future.
When you have asked the software vendor these questions, you should have a clearer understanding of whether you can see your prospective customer portal software fitting in well with your business. It’s also worth remembering to ask the vendor for a software demo and to sign up for a free trial before committing to implementing the solution fully.
Have a look around our website, find out some more information about our client portal solution and sign up for your 10-day free trial if you think Clinked could be the right customer portal for your business!