Whether your business utilizes systems to manage sales orders, inventory levels, shipping information or service-based data, these internal systems often contain valuable, real-time information that your customers may want or need. In today’s world with online shopping and the ability to bank directly from your phone, your customer’s expectations of having access to information on-demand are growing. Scenario 77 has found that the following 3 categories are the best at determining the overall need for an online portal and the best features to provide to your customers.

Reduced Customer Service Costs

Allowing your customers to self-serve information directly from your systems can significantly reduce the labor costs associated with simply having people available to answer the phone. Or what is more likely for many of our customers a portion of an employee’s day is allocated to answering the phone. This allocation takes away from their ability to do their “day job” as effectively as they could be doing.

In addition, if your internal systems aren’t as mature as you would like them to be it can often be difficult for your own employees to gather the necessary information and often involves a secondary phone call to a sales rep or production manager. This sequence of phone tag can significantly increase hidden labor costs.

Take time to think about not only the direct labor costs that you are incurring by not having an online customer portal but also the indirect costs (or opportunity costs) associated with your employee’s time.

Increased Customer Service Experience

How often do your customers call only to have to leave a voicemail asking about the status of an order? This is becoming an increasing source of frustration for many businesses. In fact, many companies are beginning to include online access or other kinds of real-time, self-service systems in their list of requirements for vendors over and above the product or service they offer.

Making a great product or providing a great service isn’t the only requirement many businesses are looking for in a vendor. It’s time that your business begins to provide a level of customer service that your customers will appreciate.

Take time to evaluate your customer’s expectations. Would providing an online customer portal meet or exceed their expectations?

Expanded Market Differentiation

Of course, you already make the best product or provide the best service; however, are you doing everything you can to differentiate yourself from your competition? Having a place to enter orders, check case status or your on-hand inventory levels could set you a part from your competition.

Its becoming even more critical that businesses in all industries leverage technology to help them standout in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

Does your competition already provide an online customer experience? Would you be the first?

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