It doesn’t matter what type of business you run, communication between you and your clients plays a major role in sustainability and success.
Now, there are a few ways in which you can maintain two-way communication with your clients. You can set up a live chat system where clients can directly contact your customer care representative or you can implement a ticketing system where clients can create tickets for their queries and wait for a representative to respond.
Another effective way to maintain communication between your business and your clients is to set up a client portal. A client portal is a secure online platform that allows for the sharing of important information such as confidential documents, support ticket history, billing history, and account information.
- What Is a Client Portal?
- When Do You Need a Client Portal?
- Benefits of Having Client Portals
- Features of a Great Client Portal
- Ways You Can Use Client Portals on Your WordPress Website
In this article, I will take you through some of the key information that you need to know about client portals before you start implementing one on your business website.
What Is a Client Portal?
Before I dive into the technicalities of client portals, let me first help you establish an understanding of what client portals are and how they work.
A client portal is a dedicated client area on your business website. Yes, you need a website to set up a client portal for your business.
Once your clients sign up to their portal areas, you will provide them with a secure username and password which they will use to access their dedicated areas with client-specific information and create requests for information.
Here is an example of a client portal where a client can access information without emailing the representative and waiting for a response.
Picture courtesy: Zoho
When Do You Need a Client Portal?
Now that you know what a client portal is, the next question is, “when do you know that you need one?”.
To answer this question, here are some of the things you need to ask yourself:
Does your business with your clients involve a frequent exchange of information?
Client portals reduce the constant back and forth of emails between you and your client because they get all the important information from their dedicated areas. Also, using a client portal will reduce the load on your customer support as customers can go through the attached knowledge base without bugging the live chat.
Do your clients frequently need to revisit their membership or subscription for renewal or cancelation?
Membership sites need client portals more than any other website. Client portals on membership sites enable members to manage their subscription with activities such as upgrading to a higher plan, subscribing to a new service, or changing personal information. Members can also view their activity log on the forum such as threads they have started or conversations that they are a part of.
Do you have an ecommerce site where your customers need to check information such as order history, billing and shipping address, gift card vouchers?
Ecommerce sites need client portals for their customers to check their order history and their current orders in process. Customers can also track their orders through their client portal, update their delivery details, request for return or exchange, and edit their orders.
Do you run a virtual classroom where your students need access to coursework, digital copies of textbooks, learning material, exam results?
Online education platforms can benefit from client portals as it can streamline communication between the instructor and the students. Instructors won’t have to share similar information with each student separately; instead, they can upload it to the LMS and it will be displayed on the dedicated area for students.
Benefits of Having Client Portals
Now that you have understood whether you need a client portal, let’s dive into the benefits of integrating one with your business.
Saves (a lot of) Time
One of the obvious benefits of client portals is that it saves the customer and the business from the hassle of sending and replying to emails. Client portals enable customers to find and sort information, documents, and data themselves rather than writing emails and then waiting for a response.
Cloud-based client portals are specially equipped with security features such as firewalls, SSL certificates, and malware protection that ensures that the customer data is safe and protected. In addition to this, you can also define the level of access users based on different factors such as the subscribed package.
While they save you and your customers a considerable amount of time, client portals also make your operations more productive. You have more resources to dedicate to business processes rather than have them tied up in communication.
Improves Collaboration with Clients
A client portal greatly enhances your relationship with your customers because it’s the technology that does the talking. As a result, there are no inconsistencies or inaccuracies within the information shared with the customer. This improves collaboration and builds a healthy relationship between you and your clients.
Improve Your Cash Flow
Having client portals give customers the option to make payments online. This results in frequent and timely payments, improving your cash flow, and eliminating any chances of delayed payments.
Features of a Great Client Portal
Client portals benefit your business in a number of ways but they must have certain features set in order to be useful for your business.
Here are some features that make for a good client portal.
Client portals are only effective when the data they handle is safe and uncompromisable. Having said that, cloud-based client portals are the safest because they follow all the necessary safety requirements including TFA, firewalls, and malware prevention. Furthermore, since they are based on cloud technology, it is fairly difficult to hack into them because of end to end encryption.
A good client portal lets you integrate various options that extend the capabilities of the portal. A good example is PayPal for online payments and Intercom for live chat support.
Client portals enable users to log in to their dedicated area whenever they want. This is one of the benefits of a cloud-based client portal as it can offer up to 99% uptime due to highly-available cloud servers and globally located data centers.
Finally, the client portal must be easy to use for your users. The information must be clearly presented and each tab or option must be in a separate section to make it easy to find and explore the portal.
Ways You Can Use Client Portals on Your WordPress Website
Client portals are a great way to streamline communication between your business and your clients. Not only do they offer great benefits to your business, but they are also easy to implement, especially if your business is running on WordPress.
One of the forefront features of WordPress is its ability to integrate various functionalities through plugins, and client portals are no exceptions. With WordPress client portal plugins, you can implement client areas on your website in just a few clicks.
This part of the article is where you will learn how you can install client portals on different types of WordPress websites. So let’s begin!
Client Portal for Virtual Classrooms – LearnDash
LearnDash is among the best LMS plugins to set up virtual classrooms with built-in features such as course builder, advanced quizzing, and much more. You can also use it to create WordPress client portals on your website. An LMS plugin like LearnDash paired with the right LMS hosting helps you create an ideal LMS website. The plugin comes with a User Profile feature that creates a separate user area for your students where they can get important information such as their progress, the courses they are enrolled in, their schedule, exam dates, results, and much more.
Client Portal for Membership Sites – MemberMouse
MemberMouse is a top WordPress membership plugin used to create forum sites where users can come and create their profiles and engage in discussions on different threads. This plugin is ideal for creating WordPress client portals for your business. You can also use the Protect Content feature to restrict content based on user access level, making your portal more secure. In addition, you can schedule content for the users and even analyze user statistics based on their activities.
Client Portal for Support – Awesome Support
Awesome Support is a great support plugin that enables you to set up a WordPress client portal on your website which lets users check out their support ticketing history, gets customizable notification, and can even get in touch with a support agent. So if you wish to set up a client portal for your customers to offer better customer service, this is the plugin for you.
Client Portal for Freelancers – Freelance Manager
Freelance Manager is a great plugin for freelancers who want to better manage their clients and help them manage their payments, projects, and more. The plugin helps you create a client area for your clients which will give them access to important information regarding their projects that you are working on such as completion date, progress, and drafts.
WordPress client portals provide an automated communication channel that is consistent and accurate, resulting in a healthy business-client relationship. In this article, I tried to deliver a thorough understanding of client portals and why it is important for businesses to have dedicated customer areas to exchange and deliver information in a timely and systematic manner.
I also discussed how businesses can implement WordPress client portals on their website through different plugins.
If you are already maintaining a client portal on your website, do share your experience. And if you’re facing difficulty in setting up a client portal for your business, leave a comment in the comment section and we will get back to you soon.
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Moeez is a WordPress community manager at Cloudways. He loves to work closely with customers to understand their problems and come up with solutions that are not only beneficial but are long lasting as well. He also actively participates in the community to share his knowledge regarding Cloudways and hosting in general. In his free time he likes to watch football, workout and spend time on his PlayStation. Get in touch with him at [email protected]