Customer portals have become an indispensable part of the consumer goods industry and many service industries. But how can such portals also be used in the construction supplier industry or in industrial production and what advantages do they bring? We present three possibilities of such portals to you.

Customer portals have long since ceased to serve only for the outsourcing of tasks. Much more customers act simultaneously as consumers and producers, also called prosumers, and use the functions of the customer portal to obtain services in real time. Be it as an information base to solve problems or as access to enquiries and orders. Customers are therefore an important driver for establishing customer portals, because they want to avoid complicated, tedious and paper-consuming processes. But the enterprises can also save not only selling and service costs by the profound and independent acting of the customers but obtain a clear competition advantage by the offer of such a platform. This not only helps to acquire new customers, but also to strengthen and improve existing customer relationships. In the success story of Kies & Recycling, you can learn what added value and advantages a customer portal has brought to the company. 

There are other examples of how customer self-service portals can look in the construction supply industry or in industrial production and improve the customer experience.

Configurator for products and services

The initial example illustrates the importance of so-called product configurators. These allow a customer to design a product according to his wishes via the web. At best, a cost overview and ordering option will follow directly afterwards. The use of such portals makes it possible to more easily meet changing customer demands successfully.

Master data, such as information on materials, form the basic elements of such a configurator and are usually already available in the company. It becomes clear that these kinds of portals are conceivable and applicable in most diverse industrial productions.

The big advantage results from the efficiency gain for the company, as the data acquisition for inquiries is structured and thus all required information is collected, and additional queries are reduced. In addition, most queries can be handled automatically. However, if manual intervention is required in complex cases, standardized process flows continue to ensure efficient processing.

Documentation through customer portals

Another example describes a customer portal in the construction or transport industry, which can also be used internally at the same time and thus greatly simplifies a large number of processes. An overview of current delivery progress, delivery delays, next steps or costs can be made available transparently through a portal. Such progress is recorded mobile and directly on site with the help of photos, videos and plans. This way of working allows customers to access current events, but at the same time also greatly simplifies internal control processes and documentation. In addition, this saves a great deal of time, e.g. through fewer site visits.

The customer portal is also a suitable instrument to support the production of documents – delivery notes, invoices, construction plans, etc. – with a minimum of effort.  It is also a suitable tool for quickly solving questions and problems that arise on the part of customers, or even within the internal framework. Internal and external communication thus becomes more transparent and comprehensible for all parties involved.

Customer portals as sales portals

The third example combines a customer portal with a sales tool. Registered customers can inform themselves about products or services and order them immediately. In addition, the sales and support team can access further detailed product information and use it as a sales aid. The product information provided via the portal should preferably be presented in a microsite rather than in a PDF product sheet. The advantages of microsites are the greater number of interaction possibilities and further detailed information. For example, additional product images, technical plans or videos can be added. In addition, the information can be updated more easily than with a PDF document.

Companies usually have all the necessary data (master data, documentation, order lists, etc.) at their disposal and can use it for such a portal. Customer portals are therefore an important access point for existing internal systems and strengthen customer loyalty and interaction.

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