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Everything You Need to Know About Customer Service Portals (+ How to Create One)

Mariam Ispiryan • May 11, 2022 • 11 min read

Providing top-notch customer service can be tricky, especially if you don’t have the budget to build out a large team of support agents.


Many entrepreneurs and small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) find themselves manually answering repetitive customer support requests and spending unsustainable amounts of money on their customer service department. 


You’ve probably considered building a customer service portal to save money and free up some time. But you’re no coder, so where to start?


If you want to streamline your customer service processes and build a self-service portal for your business, you’ve come to the right place. This article explores the common features of customer service portals and how to easily build one using Softr.


Let’s get started.



Table of Contents


  1. What is a customer service portal?
  2. What are the benefits of a customer service portal?
  3. What are the common features of a customer service portal?
  4. How to create a customer service portal with Softr


Build your customer service portal with Softr

Level up the way you interact with your clients.

What is a customer service portal?


A customer service portal is a business-to-customer (B2C) web app where people can access information or services from a company. They have a layer of privacy and security because customers have to submit login credentials to enter them. They can contain everything from customer information and payment preferences to support and educational resources.

Shala Yoga’s online portal lets customers book sessions, access their class schedules, and manage their membership payments.

Shala Yoga’s online portal lets customers book sessions, access their class schedules, and manage their membership payments.

What are the benefits of a customer service portal?


Customer support portals offer lots of advantages to both businesses and their clients. The following three benefits are particularly popular.



1. Businesses save time and money


Let’s face it, customer service is expensive. In fact, a 2021 study reported that 1,500 B2B SaaS companies spent an average of 11% of their revenue on customer support and customer success.


Customer care is also time-consuming, so businesses have to expand their service teams as they grow to deliver the kind of high-quality service that will keep people coming back in the future.


Self-service portals cut down on customer support requests, ultimately saving you time and money. They let customers access the information they need and answer questions by themselves. That means spending less time and money on repetitive customer service tickets, streamlining your workflow, freeing up time for higher priority matters, and getting customer questions and concerns addressed more quickly.



2. Customers enjoy the convenience and higher satisfaction


Most of the time, customers don’t want to contact a business’s support department. They don’t want to spend hours on hold or days waiting for an email response. They’d rather access the information they need, figure out their own problems, and continue with their lives.


Online portals aren’t just useful tools for businesses—they’re great for customers too. They give people easy access to useful resources and let them carry out necessary tasks without any fuss. 


Customer service portals can also provide customers with added value information like educational resources and free downloads, which certainly increases customer satisfaction.


All in all, people who have a convenient and satisfying customer service experience with your company will be highly likely to keep coming back in the future.


It’s also worth noting that a great customer experience can help set your company apart. As much as 81% of businesses compete primarily on customer experience, so providing top-notch customer care could be the deciding factor on people choosing you over your competitors.



3. Everyone experiences better engagement and a sense of community


At their core, customer service portals are practical tools. They let people access customer-specific information and carry out online actions whenever they like, which is both convenient and efficient. 


But they can go a step further than just presenting and receiving information. The best customer portals bring people with similar interests, problems, or circumstances together.


If you integrate elements like community forums or knowledge bases into your customer service portal, you’ll start to see customers interacting with each other and forming communities around your products. That results in a richer brand experience, a more engaged audience, and increased brand loyalty in the long run.

What are the common features of a customer service portal?


Customer service portals are reflections of the businesses that create them. That means their content and design vary a great deal depending on their creator’s preferences and what they’re being used for.


That said, most customer service portals have the following core features in common. 



Homepage


Homepages are public, so they’re the first thing people see when they arrive at your customer service portal. You should design them with a wide audience in mind and include relevant information for customers with login credentials and first-time visitors.


Your homepage should provide a good first impression of your business, show off your company’s branding, share your story, explain what you do, and introduce yourself to new customers.



Log-in and password recovery


log-in and password recovery

Not just anyone can access customer service portals. People have to log into them to access their information and carry out customer-specific tasks.



Most customer service portals require people to log in to access gated content, private resources, and other internal information. Naturally, you’ll need to create a login page where people can do just that. Be sure to account for people inevitably forgetting their credentials by including a password recovery functionality as well.



Profile information and personal preferences


One of the most common reasons people visit customer portals is to create profiles, add personal information, and update their preferences.


Up-to-date customer files are about more than just record-keeping. They ensure that you can effectively do business with people in a manner that aligns with their personal preferences.


So, having a section of your portal where people can intuitively and efficiently update their customer profiles is essential.



Customer page


Not all customer service portals have customer pages, but many businesses find them to be very handy tools. They provide management with an overview of everyone involved with their business and all their data at any given moment, whether they’re full-time employees, contractors, or customers.


Of course, customer pages are internal tools and should never be made public. Customer portal software like Softr makes it easy to adjust viewing permissions, so you can choose which of your self-service portal pages are customer-facing and which stay internal.



Customer-facing content


Dedicate this page to whatever kind of information you want to share with your customers. Of course, the specifics depend on the kind of business you have, but here are a few examples:


  • Customer information and account history
  • A knowledge base
  • A help desk or other customer support resources
  • Calendars and schedules
  • Information about specific projects or tasks
  • A community forum
  • Educational content


softr's calendar block

If you need to share information about your business’s schedule with your customers, Softr’s Calendar Block will come in handy.



If you use client portal software like Softr, you’ll have lots of different content block options to choose from. They’ll also help you organize all the information you want to share, let people interact with your data in different ways, and guide the actions they can take. 


To give you an idea, some examples of Softr’s content blocks include:


  • Feature grid
  • Gallery
  • Team
  • Testimonial
  • FAQ
  • Form
  • Calendar
  • Payment
  • List


builsing blocks for lists & forms

Softr List Blocks let you build customer service portals that are equal parts informative and visually appealing.

How to create a customer service portal with Softr


You can make your own no-code customer service portal in a matter of minutes with Softr. Just follow these steps:



1. Sign up for a free plan


With Softr’s free plan, you can create your own client portal and tinker with its design before committing to any monthly costs. It includes unlimited applications, one custom domain, and up to five members.

Build your customer service portal with Softr

Level up the way you interact with your clients.

2. Connect Softr with Airtable


All the data that powers your Softr customer service portal will be stored within Airtable. You’ll need to make sure your Airtable account is connected with your Softr account so that all your information can be transferred over. 


To do so:


  • Obtain your Airtable API key and enter it into your Softr account
  • Click the Connect to Airtable button when it pops up
  • Fill in parameters like your Airtable base and your users table when prompted


We also have a support article dedicated to connecting your Softr account with Airtable if you need more guidance.



3. Choose a template to customize or start from scratch


softr homepage

Softr has a large library of web app templates you can customize to create your customer service portal.



While you can use Softr’s intuitive drag-and-drop interface to build your online portal from the ground up, we also have a wide selection of templates available. If you’re short on time, they can help you get your web app up and running quicker.


Think about what kind of customer service portal you want to create and determine whether any of our templates align with that. For instance, our online community templates could work well if you want customers to use log-in credentials to access gated content like payment preferences, scheduling information, and community forums.



4. Start building your customer service portal


If you’re starting with a blank interface, set up pages dedicated to the features we mentioned above.


You should also customize your web app settings and adjust preferences like default styles & colors, custom domain, SEO settings, and integrations.


If you want more detailed information about building a customer service portal, Softr has a great support team and lots of educational resources like comprehensive video guides you can check out.

Streamline the way you do business with a customer service portal


Customer service portals are fantastic resources for both businesses and their customers. Their self-service element takes the burden off customer care teams and empowers users to educate themselves and solve their own problems without waiting for phone or email support.


All in all, customer service portals result in businesses with streamlined processes and satisfied, highly engaged customers.


Best of all, creating your customer service portal with Softr is quick, intuitive, and produces professional results, all without any coding required. Give our free trial a try and discover what you can create with our platform.

Build your customer service portal with Softr

Level up the way you interact with your clients.

Frequently asked questions about customer service portals

Customer service portals and client portal are very similar, but they’re not exactly the same. Customer service portals are typically business-to-customer (B2C) web apps that people can log into to access customer-specific information like account details, support resources, personal preferences, and community forums. On the other hand, client portals are usually business-to-business (B2B) platforms where people can obtain client-facing information about projects like task status and invoice details.

No, you don’t need to use tickets to activate your customer service portal. Some businesses use customer service portals as customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, while others keep the two tools separate. If you’re building your customer service portal with Softr, there are several ways you can deliver direct customer care. One of the easiest is by setting up List Blocks that let people submit customer service requests by filling out a form. You can even configure your list blocks so that customers can only see their own requests.

Customer service portals serve three main purposes: 1. They help businesses work more efficiently. Creating a customer service portal relieves support agents of mundane and repetitive customer service tasks, which ultimately saves businesses money and frees up their time to work on more high-priority matters. 2. They make customers’ lives easier. Ever experienced the sinking feeling that happens when you’re on hold with a company’s customer support team for a little too long? What about waiting several business days for client care to respond to an email? Customer service portals cut down on these kinds of typical frustrations—their self-service options give people the resources they need and help them solve their own problems. They also typically work well on a mobile device, so can be used on the go. 3. They boost engagement and create community. Even though they’re practical tools, customer service portals bring people with similar interests, problems, or circumstances together. Especially if you integrate a community forum or knowledge base articles into your web app, you’ll start to see customers interacting with each other and communities forming around your products.

Customer service portals might sound complicated, but understanding how they work is pretty straightforward. Let’s break it down into a few steps: 1. A person searches for a company’s customer service portal and lands on their homepage. 2. They navigate to the portal’s login page, enter their credentials, and are granted access. 3. They explore the customer service portal’s interface until they find the information or carry out the action that prompted them to initially visit the app. For example, someone may visit a customer service portal to update their payment information, do so, and then navigate away.

Web app-based customer services portals are important because they provide valuable information, solve problems, empower and educate customers, and bring people together. Having a web app-based customer service portal is especially important because it’ll be straightforward to update, secure, and easy for people to interact with. If you build yours with Softr, you’ll also be able to put together a professional online customer service portal together in a matter of minutes without any coding necessary.

There’s no one specific criteria that make for a good customer service portal. However, their most important function is allowing customers to obtain the information they need or carry out tasks that are beneficial to them. When designing your customer service portal, consider the main reasons people contact your customer service agents. Then, brainstorm what kinds of solutions you could provide them with through a web app. That should give you a good idea of where to begin when trying to put together a customer service portal that will please the people you do business with.

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