How a CRM portal can improve efficiency and increase customer satisfaction

In today's fast-paced digital landscape, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are essential for the effective management and tracking of an organisation’s interactions with current and potential customers.

However, to maximise the value from your CRM investment, integration with your other systems and data sources is crucial. A common way in which to achieve integration, and to subsequently improve the experience of your customers, is through the use of a web portal.

Portals enable seamless integration with your CRM, providing centralised access to information, personalised user experiences, and improved collaboration across your teams.

In this article I’ll delve into the benefits of creating a portal; outline the steps to take to configure and integrate a portal with your CRM data; and I’ll offer practical tips to ensure you can make it a success in your organisation.



What is a portal?

A web portal aggregates content from across different sources to provides users with fast and efficient access to the data they need from a single, unified interface. By simplifying the way information is accessed and managed, a well-designed portal can enhance productivity and improve the end-user experience.

3 Portal use-cases

Here are 3 use cases for the creation of a portal to improve the customer experience:

  • Customer Self-Service Order Tracking: If you want customers to keep track of their orders without giving them access to your entire CRM system (which we obviously would not advise!), a portal can provide the perfect solution. It allows you to select and display order details from your CRM in a secure and user-friendly manner. A portal enables customers to check their order status without the need to talk to engage with your customer services team, enabling you to repurpose staff onto more value-add activities. At the same time, customers get quicker responses to queries through self-service.
  • More accurate customer data: With a portal, customers can update their own information, such as addresses and marketing preferences. This data can then automatically sync with your CRM. This reduces manual data entry efforts of your team, whilst increasing the accuracy of the customer data that you hold as it is provided from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.
  • Enhanced Customer Support and Communication: Use your portal as a support hub where customers can raise queries and communicate directly with your team. Integrated with your CRM, it facilitates seamless communication both internally and externally without the need for additional tools or platforms.

Two real-world portal examples

Here are two recent examples (of many) that demonstrate the kinds of use cases this technology can be used for. Please note that some details have been omitted to protect the privacy and intellectual property of both us and our customers.

Example 1: A professional services firm

Our client manages the land rights and legal agreements needed for new electricity, gas, and water connections – known as wayleaves. Each project involves numerous stakeholders, creating a significant administrative burden as they frequently require updates. Keeping them updated is a crucial business undertaking.

We developed for the client a web portal where customers, suppliers, and other involved parties can log in and view project updates. The information flows directly from the CRM into the web portal, saving the client’s team a significant amount of time. End users also benefit from real-time access to the information they need.

Example 2: A membership organisation

A membership organisation needed to contact each of its members prior to annual renewal, requesting they fill out a form to update any pertinent information, such as turnover. Previously, this was done by members being asked to populate a Word document, attaching it to an email to submit it. Staff at the membership organisation would then manually update the CRM.

This was a cumbersome process that was met with some resistance. Some members suggested notifying the organisation when there were changes instead. However, such an approach lacked robustness as pertinent information might accidentally be omitted. This is where a portal provided a great win-win solution.

Now, ahead of each member's renewal, an email is automatically dispatched that includes a link to a web form that is pre-populated with the member’s existing information. The member only needs to review and update the information as necessary. Any changes made are automatically written back to the CRM, saving significant time each year.

This is a great example of how integrating portal technology with a CRM can deliver both efficiency and customer satisfaction. It also demonstrates that portal technology doesn’t have to be complex or expensive.


Where to start with portal implementation

When implementing any new technology, there are 5 common sequential steps to follow, as follows:

  1. Define your needs: Take a close look at what your business really needs. Identify your pain points and opportunities. Document your requirements and prioritise using an approach such as MoSCoW analysis. Determine whether and where a portal might help.
  2. Research portal solutions: There are many portal options out there, ranging from off-the-shelf ready-made solutions, to fully custom developed, so do your research. Compare features and prices. See if you can find any user reviews. Create a shortlist to find the right balance between meeting your requirements and budget. If you have a CRM partner, reach out to them as they should be able to guide and advise you along the journey, particularly when it comes to integration with your other existing solutions.
  3. Plan your implementation: Once you've chosen a solution, plan how you will roll it out. Getting a solution deployed is one thing, but the real value comes from its adoption. Determine the training needs, and integration requirements with existing systems.
  4. Implement, configure, and customise: once installed, your portal must first integrate your CRM system. Then the portal itself will require a combination of configuration and customisation. For example, personalising the interface to match your brand and user preferences.
  5. Launch and Monitor: Once everything's set up, launch the portal. Be sure to make a big deal about it. Make adoption happen, and then gather feedback. There will always be some initial tweaking needed as well as longer-term continual improvements. It is essential to garner user feedback to identify improvement opportunities.

10 Tips for portal success

Implementing a portal can be a significant undertaking. Below are 10 tips to consider when embarking in such an endeavour:

  1. Put Users First: Make sure your portal is user-friendly and easy to navigate.
  2. Include Search Functionality: Include a powerful search tool to help users find what they need quickly.
  3. Make it Mobile-Friendly: Ensure your portal works seamlessly on mobile devices for on-the-go access.
  4. Maintain Your Portal: Keep your portal up to date.
  5. Support Your Users: Offer thorough training and support to help users get the most out of the portal.
  6. Keep It Simple: Don't overwhelm users with a cluttered interface.
  7. Don’t Neglect Security: Protect sensitive information with strong security measures.
  8. Listen to Users: Regularly gather and act on user feedback to improve the portal.
  9. Integration is Key: Ensure your portal works well with other systems to avoid confusion.
  10. Set Clear Goals: Make sure you have clear objectives for your portal to avoid frustration and low engagement.

Conclusion

By offering a centralised, user-friendly platform for accessing and managing information, portals can empower both customers and employees. A portal typically enables the streamlining of business processes whilst simultaneously lightening the load on customer support, making your operations more efficient and productive. Whether you're looking to improve customer order tracking, enable self-service data management, or enhance communication channels, a well-designed portal can enable you extract additional value from your CRM investment.

As you get started, keep user needs in mind, ensure smooth integration, and continually improve your portal based on feedback. With the right approach, a portal can become a key tool in boosting customer satisfaction and driving your business success.


If you're considering how a portal might benefit your business and would like some free personalised advice and guidance, then schedule a consultation with on of our experts by clicking or tapping on the button below.