All you need to know about customer portals

26 mei 2023

Delivering excellent service and support to your customers pays off in a time where the customer journey is one of the key differentiators. Providing an optimal customer experience and streamlined digital communication is the route to add more value to your business.

Benefits of a good customer portal

Fortunately, there are various possibilities to increase efficiency and provide customers with a higher level of service. A customer portal is a prime example of this. A well-designed portal is a fantastic addition to your back office, sales environment, and customer service, offering several advantages.

With features such as account and profile management, order insight, customer support, online payments, and feedback options, customers can always rely on the portal to perform tasks independently. As customers engage more in self-service, the pressure on service representatives decreases. By connecting your customer portal with the back office, you can streamline business processes more easily. The result? Reduced manual tasks, fewer errors in processes, and real-time availability of customer information.

All these benefits contribute to a positive brand experience and provide organizations with a competitive edge. However, designing, building, implementing, and adopting a customer portal can be a serious challenge. Outdated technology, inadequate understanding of the IT landscape, and ill-defined user requirements are stumbling blocks for many businesses. In this article, you will discover how to tackle these challenges. Make the most of our tips for developing a successful customer portal!

Rogier de Graaf is business director at Touchtribe

Rogier de Graaf

Business Director


1. Determine Your Needs in Advance

By mapping out your exact needs in advance, you ensure the customer portal is effective and aligns optimally with the requirements of your customers and employees. It is important to question what key functionalities should be and how the customer portal relates to other systems and processes within your organization. This can be achieved through methods such as creating use cases or conducting a needs analysis.

By understanding your needs, you can tailor the customer portal to your target audience, thereby enhancing user-friendliness and acceptance. This increases the likelihood of both customers and employees embracing the portal and perceiving it as a valuable tool.

By being clear about your requirements and desired functionalities, you can better manage the development and implementation costs.

2. Establish a Solid Integration Layer

As businesses utilize an increasing number of applications and systems, the accumulation of data grows. Valuable information is scattered across various sources, offering potential for enhancing business processes and service delivery. However, combining all data streams often turns out to be difficult. How do you combine payment information, customer data, and order details, for example?

The challenge lies in effectively integrating multiple systems and their corresponding data. Common reasons for this difficulty include:

  • Outdated software systems

  • Departure of the system's original developers from the organization

  • Lack of support for the technology within the organization

  • Inadequate API functionality

  • Poorly documented APIs

An Application Programming Interface (API) is a software interface that enables two different systems to communicate with each other. This interface facilitates the transfer of data between systems and provides standardized access to connected application data or devices. APIs play a crucial role in developing or optimizing a customer portal, as they establish connections between the involved systems. If APIs do not function properly or lack documentation, communication breakdowns occur, impacting the functionality of the customer portal or its components.

Implementing a robust integration layer creates a centralized hub where employees and partners can easily access comprehensive information on orders, contracts, delivery schedules, and pricing. By overlaying a strong integration layer onto your customer portal, you ensure seamless collaboration between connected systems and other applications, even with outdated (legacy) systems or applications. This enables you to continue utilizing existing resources while maintaining smooth operational processes.

3. Keep data up-to-date and consistent

The primary value of a well-designed customer portal lies in the fact that data is always up-to-date and the information presented is consistent across all channels. By establishing real-time connections between physical and digital stocks, you ensure that you can access accurate information on supplier stock levels anytime and through any channel.

When data is not up-to-date or when multiple "sources of truth" exist, it can lead to confusion and uncertainty about which information is correct. This can result in customer and employee dissatisfaction and even financial losses for the company. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that data within the customer portal remains up-to-date and consistent, regardless of its origin.

A real-time connection between the various systems and applications is essential for achieving this. It ensures that data is always updated in real-time and that everyone always has access to the latest information. Changes in stock or customer data can also be made immediately, preventing errors and misunderstandings. As a result, customers and employees can rely on the information in the portal and the company can work on improving customer relations and the efficiency of business processes.

4. Opt for future-proof technology

The way portals and other applications are developed is constantly changing. To ensure a successful and sustainable customer portal, it is essential to leverage future-proof technology, such as a composable architecture and cloud-native infrastructure. A composable architecture enables you to build applications and functionalities in a flexible manner using modular components. This makes it easier to update and adapt the portal to the changing needs of the business and its customers.

By developing a customer portal in the cloud from the beginning, you increase adaptability allowing the portal or its components to evolve alongside the needs of the business. In addition, cloud-native applications leverage a software-defined infrastructure to reduce or eliminate reliance on hardware, making them highly scalable. This means that the portal can grow with the needs of the business without incurring high costs and complex technical challenges.

A cloud-native infrastructure offers even more advantages:

  • Reduced or eliminated need for self-managing servers.

  • Pay-per-use billing model, ensuring you only pay for what you use.

  • Utilization of secure infrastructure, leveraging the expertise of the cloud provider, as evidenced by ISO certifications. While remaining the owner of your data, you can rely on robust security and encryption capabilities, allowing you to choose where your data is stored and ensuring compliance with regulations such as the GDPR.

5. User-Friendliness is Key: Adoption of the Customer Portal

A successful customer portal relies not only on the technology behind it but also on the extent to which customers use the portal. It is crucial for the customer portal to be intuitive and user-friendly for end-users. Customers want quick and easy access to the information and functionalities they need.

Understanding the needs and desires of customers is a vital factor in designing a customer portal. By listening to customer feedback, you can make adjustments and improvements to better meet their expectations. The design should be attractive and organized, with simple and clear navigation.

To encourage the adoption of the customer portal among end-users, it is important to promote its usage. This can be done through newsletters, social media, or other communication channels. By clearly communicating the benefits of the customer portal and how customers can leverage it to enhance their experience with your organization, you can ensure an improved customer journey.

Touchtribe builds business portals that give companies competitive advantage. Get in touch with us!

6. Continuous Development: Customer Portal as an Ongoing Process

In the digital era, business environments need to be flexible and dynamic. Using, managing, and optimizing a successful customer portal is an ongoing process. While you design the platform based on an initial problem, a customer portal is never truly finished. New technologies, changing market needs, and evolving customer expectations require continuous development to remain relevant.

Maintaining and improving your customer portal is an ongoing effort that requires constant attention and dedication. Adding new functionalities and enhancing existing features can contribute to the sustained success of the portal. By maintaining a continuous focus on optimizing and developing your customer portal, you can ensure that it remains a valuable tool for both your business and your customers.

How Touchtribe can help

Are you looking for a reliable and knowledgeable partner to assist you in building or optimizing your successful customer portal? Look no further than Touchtribe. We specialize in developing business portals, customer self-service environments, and supplier portals for a wide range of companies. Our solutions prioritize user-friendliness, ensuring seamless integration with legacy applications and providing access to all the necessary information within the portal.

As an AWS partner, we can assist you in developing a cloud-native, scalable, cost-effective, and future-proof portal. We not only focus on the technology but also place great emphasis on user experience and adoption. That's why we provide comprehensive training during the initial delivery, ensuring that your employees and suppliers are motivated to engage with the portal.

Learn more about customer portals

If you would like to learn more about the possibilities of a business portal from Touchtribe, please don't hesitate to contact us for a non-binding consultation. Reach out to Rogier de Graaf at 06-43083025 or send an email to info@touchtribe.nl.

Rogier de Graaf is business director at Touchtribe

Rogier de Graaf

Business Director