Customer portals form a crucial part of how companies do business, yet many are still unaware of their overall impact. The general public often does not realize here that, for many industries, customer portals are essential. Companies cannot deliver the level of service that customers and clients expect without these valuable tools.
How businesses deliver customer service most effectively is one of the most significant issues facing most industries. Access to the right customer service tools can make or break a business that wants to stay competitive today.
When customers find accessing their information more comfortable and hassle-free, they will be more inclined to use a business that fulfils these needs, including their immediate and long-term needs.
Swetha Amaresan of Hubspot has pointed out how retaining existing customers costs less than finding new prospects in “12 Data-Backed Reasons Customer Service Is Key to Business Growth”. Study on to read more concerning the value of the custom client portal platform.
1. What is a customer portal?
A customer portal provides customers and clients with access to services using a secure login. Payment and other important information are examples of content that might be contained within a portal. Because these tools are such an essential part of the customer experience, businesses need to give them the appropriate attention.
Salesforce estimates that 69% of organizations include self-service in their overall strategy. Companies find it in their best interests to do the service that they provide as self-service as possible. Businesses will save time and resources by putting more control over transactions back into customers’ hands.
2. What are the most common elements of a customer service portal?
Account and payment info are, of course, some of the essential elements that a customer service portal will contain. However, other essential elements might include:
- A full range of self-service features – these are features that allow customers the most maximum control over their account
- Company branding options – branding provides an even more professional look that gives the portal an in-house feel
- Online payment systems – these systems make it easier to make payments on a convenient schedule
- Statement access – providing easy access to statements helps customers keep track of their expenses
- Credit and delivery memos – being able to access these memos easily also makes expense management easier
3. What today’s customers demand in a customer portal
Although the specific features that customers want will vary by industry, there are elements considered necessary. Salesforce finds that customers believe the experience provided as essential as the products and services. When customers have access to a portal, their level of engagement increases.
In short, customers want to reduce their customer service costs, centralize their information, and provide more effective customer relationship management. The tools mentioned in the list above can all increase customer engagement to new levels.
Customer service-related expenses are among some of the highest costs that companies face. Reductions in these costs help businesses allocate their funding to other costs that have possibly been put off.
Keeping all the information and tools that customers require in one place helps companies and their customers. Businesses have historically kept different types of services hosted in other locations. Adopting portals helps eliminate this common problem.
Scalable customer relationship management is more comfortable with more centralized information. When your relationship management works effectively, you will build more trust with your customers.
4. Benefits for businesses using customer portals
Businesses that use customer portals will offer greater convenience for their customers and enjoy a better customer satisfaction chance. Some benefits stand out, in particular among customers across different industry sectors.
Segmented information for different customer groups is important. Some customers may require more assistance than others, and a well-structured portal will address this fact. An advantage of this approach is that it helps to meet customers in the product usage cycle.
Self-service options for resolving issues help customers get the assistance that they need faster. In many cases, customers might prefer to wait to see if they can answer a problem before reaching out to customer support about an issue. Companies that provide self-service options can focus more of their attention on other matters.
Why mobile customer portals are important
Mobile customer portals enjoy an important place because of the importance of mobile devices in today’s world. Most mobile device users have high expectations for the level of customer service that they receive. Creating portals accessible on these devices increases customer satisfaction and these customers’ chances of continuing to use your services.
Why self-service is in high demand for the logistic industry
The logistics industry is one of the fastest-growing and fastest-evolving industries today. Some examples of self-service features being in high demand include improved customer experience and faster order processing.
Better user experiences can contribute to the demand for self-service in the logistics industry. This industry is so competitive that companies need every satisfied customer to keep to have a competitive advantage. Self-service options make all the difference in these jobs.
Faster order processing is also an advantage of self-service. These days of having to wait for a response to a phone call, fax, or mail order form are behind us, primarily due to companies allowing self-servicing. When a customer can initiate an order, they are likely to use the company again.
In “How These 7 Companies Increased Revenue by an Average of 425%”, SEO expert Neil Patel highlights how some companies have increased revenues by making changes that included customer portal options. One example is highlighted below.
Server Destiny, one of the companies highlighted, simplified their pricing to correct an uneven balance in customers ordering servers, who were getting more significant discounts than customers paying for websites. A portal with a more simplified sales process helped to increase the conversion rate to double the original amount.
5. Tips for implementing a customer self-service strategy
1. Decide your goals and develop a clear sense of vision – Think about how you could improve and what types of new customers you want to attract. When you have a clear picture of which customers your business needs the most, you will plan out a strategy for finding those customers.
2. Pick the ways you will engage with your customers – You will need to pick the right engagement channels to have the best chance of success. Some channels suit specific audiences better than others, and there might be trial-and-error involved with this process.
3. Think of how you will evaluate your customer portal’s engagement. If you can put closed-loop feedback into play, you will be better positioned to determine how well the engagement level works. Remember that the engagement level is something that you need to keep track of through the life of your customers’ portals.
Although a customer portal will not fix every problem, implementing one of these tools can make a significant difference worth the effort. When using one of these portals, you will have more opportunities opened up for your company.
13 Tips for Getting on Top of Your Taxes
It’s tax season! Whether you have only a personal return to worry about or that plus a business return, there are a few helpful tips to keep in mind while getting your tax forms completed.
It’s tax season! Whether you have only a personal return to worry about or that plus a business return, there are a few helpful tips to keep in mind while getting your tax forms completed.
Here are some of those pointers to keep in mind.
1. Decide whether you need help.
For many people, completing one’s taxes may seem pretty straightforward. For others, it may look like a daunting process. If an individual has an incorporated business, such as an S corporation or partnership, and multiple qualified deductions on their return, then a professional’s help is probably best.
2. Don’t forget to fund your retirement fund.
There are multiple financial vehicles available to save for retirement, whether it is a Traditional IRA, SEP-IRA, or Keogh Plan, to name a few. In most instances, money contributed towards retirement is a legitimate way to reduce one’s taxable income on paper.
3. Stay organized.
If you have deductions to keep track of, or if your income is cash, you should stay on top of it. This is possible to do manually, and if your situation is more complicated, you can sign up for programs to help you automate it.
4. Keep in mind the tax deadline.
Tax season typically begins on January 15th, with the IRS beginning to accept personal returns through April 15th. Business returns, particularly with S corporation and partnership returns, are due on March 15th. It’s important to file on time to avoid late penalties and fees.
5. Decide whether you want to itemize or take the standard deduction.
An individual is eligible to take a $12,400 standard deduction off their taxes. However, itemizing expenses, which entail taking deductions for qualified personal expenses, such as mortgage interest and charitable deductions, may yield greater tax savings.
6. Consider the home office deduction.
Those who have a dedicated office area in their home for work might be worth considering the operating expense of that area for a tax deduction.
7. Remember to include any dependents on your tax return.
If one has any children or adult dependents, it’s important to remember to note this on one’s tax return. Doing so allows for certain tax credits to reduce one’s taxable income.
8. Consider setting up a taxpayer account and filing online.
If one uses self-help tax software, such as TurboTax or TaxAct, tax filing, payment, or refunds are automated online. If one is employing a professional to complete their return, then electronic filing may be set up by that professional on one’s behalf. Otherwise, one can create an account online directly with the IRS for quicker and more efficient filing.
9. Make sure you are filing all the appropriate forms.
If one uses self-help software to file a personal return, all the necessary documents should be included as part of the paid package. If one is filing directly with the IRS, with no middle party to help facilitate the process, it’s important to be careful to point the proper forms and double-check that all necessary documents are filed. For business returns and more complicated personal returns, it’s best to consult a professional to ensure that all the appropriate paperwork is filed.
10. Consider hiring your children (and paying them).
If one has a business, no matter how formal or informal it is, hiring a family is advantageous for both you and them. Any salaries paid to the family are tax-deductible. Retirement contributions and health benefits are also tax-deductible expenses for the family that is the employer.
11. Keep healthy.
If you are self-employed, the entirety of your health insurance is tax-deductible, as is even your dental insurance. If you are employed and purchase health insurance with a high deductible, opening a health savings account or a flexible savings account and using it can help you offset some of the monies spent on taxes.
12. Buy supplies for work.
If you are employed and purchase supplies relevant to your work, this may be deductible. If you are self-employed and make large purchases pertinent to your work, the cost may be deductible in full.
13. Make timely payments, if needs be.
Though many individuals may expect a tax refund from the IRS, some may wish to pay additional monies with their tax filing. Whether it be via an unincorporated status as a 1099 contractor, an LLC, or a corporation, those who are self–employed are expected to make quarterly payments throughout the year by the IRS. Suppose you are wondering when LLC Taxes are due in 2020. In that case, the IRS enables one to register on their website for quarterly estimated tax payments: January 15th, April 15th, June 17th, and September 16th.
Taxes are an unpleasant obligation for all of us who live in the United States. Even those of us who live outside of the United States and are citizens of the United States, staying abreast of tax filing with the IRS is an indisputable legal obligation. To make this obligation run smoother, there are a few pointers to consider. Though it’s not exhaustive, the above list is pretty thorough and a good start.
4 Ways Employees Compromise Security (And How You Can Solve Them)
Employee carelessness could lead to a data breach that can destroy your business. Read on to discover how workers can undermine your company’s security.
Employees, in a perfect world, would have great cybersecurity habits. They will make sure never to place their company’s data or network at risk.
This isn’t a perfect world, though. Although office workers can be trustworthy and loyal, the lack of IT policies and occasional carelessness could cause a harmful data breach that can ruin your business reputation and shutter your company.
How can employees compromise your enterprise data security?
Here are four ways they can put your sensitive private and customer data at risk:
1. Insider Malice
No business manager or owner likes to think that their trusted business partners or the people on their team have it out for them. Sadly, a few bad apples can sometimes get past human resources or talent acquisition. The worst part is that malicious insider attacks are incredibly difficult to detect.
You can prevent or mitigate insider malice by getting to know the mind of your attacker. Put yourself in the shoes of a dissatisfied worker looking to take down their employer. You probably wouldn’t launch an attack while you’re using the company computer and still on the corporate payroll.
You would, however, be likely to launch a cyberattack a few days before or after your last day. If you still have your company e-mail and VPN login (and they still work), you could get into your ex-company’s servers from the comfort of your home.
As a business owner, you should take measures to prevent disgruntled and malicious employees from compromising your company’s IT and network infrastructure. Start by limiting privileged access to sensitive data, such as intellectual property, personally identifiable information and customer details. Then, immediately revoke the access rights of employees who resign or leave your company without notice.
Also, try getting cloud software that can back up and protect your data. You could, for instance, purchase and download an Office 365 e-mail backup solution to make sure that your e-mail data stays protected and is easily recoverable in the event of a cyberattack or a security threat.
2. The Use of Weak or Lazy Passwords
According to a report from PCMag, the top three common passwords for 2020 are picture1, 123456789 and 123456. These passwords are so laughably insecure that you’re practically rolling out the red carpet for hackers and other cybercriminals.
When you have employees adhering to poor password practices, you need to create and implement a strong password policy to prevent an enterprise data security disaster. Make sure your workers receive a notification to change their passwords every quarter. What’s more, the new password must adhere to the following requirements:
- It shouldn’t match the previous passwords.
- It must contain at least nine characters (the longer, the better).
- It needs to include a combination of symbols, uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers.
Changing and memorizing a long, complex password can be highly inconvenient for some employees. One trick to creating this kind of password is to learn a sentence only you can identify.
Take this sentence as an example: “My best friend munches a batch of French fries.” Turn that into an acronym, and you’ve got: MbfmabofFf. You could turn the letter “o” into a zero, then add the birth date of your best friend (or whatever special number you feel like adding). Finally, start or end the password with a symbol.
3. Web Surfing
Office workers often use the company’s internet to surf the web during lunch breaks or downtime. If your tech staff doesn’t protect and configure your systems properly, employees may come across websites with malware, which can cause machines and other devices to become infected.
As a business owner or manager, you can restrict access to specific sites that your company or tech team determines as dangerous or inappropriate. Although this tactic works well for known and distinctive destinations, it may be time-consuming and complex to administer.
If you insist on this strategy, make sure to supplement it by securing systems with anti-spyware and anti-virus software. What’s more, train your employees on the value of staying careful on the web.
4. Malicious E-mail and Phishing
Fraudulent e-mails can destroy your company’s IT and network security, as well as compromise your data. They may contain harmful attachments, codes or links that give cybercriminals access to devices and data.
You can stop these malicious e-mails from harming your business by educating your workers about recognizing suspicious e-mails.
A few of the red flags they should look for include the following:
- Offers and promotions that are “too good to be true.”
- Unwarranted technical or customer support
- Popular companies with deceptive URLs and misspelt names, such as amaz0n3 (dot) com.
- Unsolicited or suspicious downloads or attachments.
You hired your employees to help grow your business – not destroy it with poor cybersecurity practices. Implement strict IT policies and use the right tools that can protect your organization from criminals.
What is a Managed Service Provider And What Do They Do?
The way to do this is by hiring a Managed Service Provider (or MSP) – in this article, we’ll explain what they do, what they can provide
Although you might tend to consider business growth in terms of opening new locations or creating new products, you may not have considered how your IT can grow along with these things – it’s fair to say that most businesses in 2021 would struggle without a solid IT infrastructure.
But IT improvements don’t come cheap, so you’ll want to find an IT solution that doesn’t leave you bankrupt. The way to do this is by hiring a Managed Service Provider (or MSP) – in this article, we’ll explain what they do, what they can provide for your company, and how you should choose the best one.
When you’ve finished reading, you’ll have a better idea of whether or not you’d like to explore working with an MSP – or look instead at building your in-house IT knowledge.
1. What is an MSP?
An MSP is an existing IT team that you can hire who works outside your regular office and isn’t on your payroll. Although they aren’t quite as present in your daily work environment as a dedicated in-house team would be, they can still provide comprehensive support and cover all of your IT needs.
While they might seem like a more complicated option than keeping everything in-house, an MSP can be a more simple option than bringing on your own IT team – you could even have one working for you in a week or so if you were to start; talks now! Because they have a diverse staff of professionals who work with a broad range of businesses, an MSP can easily add you on.
For your monthly payment, you are provided with the MSP’s IT team’s expertise at a lower cost than you might anticipate for their level of experience. This is because they aren’t just working for you – as they charge lots of companies a low price, they can spread staffing costs across all of the businesses who hire them, and this saving comes straight back to you.
2. Can An MSP Save You Money?
You probably have some awareness of how your business budgets every month, and if so, you’ll know just how fast costs can become astronomically high – especially when you include the recruitment drives required when you’re hiring new members of staff!
Putting aside the huge cost of wages each month, you can lose thousands to expenses that come from staffing, lost resources and more, and these costs grow exponentially if you’re looking to bring on more people. And this is all without the training costs that come when new employees are on the payroll!
One of the more immediate benefits of working with an MSP is that you can completely avoid extra costs like these. The extensive hiring process has already been handled entirely by the provider.
But the benefits don’t just come in the short term – without these initial costs, think about what you could invest the extra thousands you now have into! You could invest in new product development, create a new and exciting marketing campaign, recruit more people in sales – the options are endless with the money you’ve saved on the monotony of the hiring process!
3. Can An MSP Help With Business Expansion?
Now that we’ve established how you can put back the money saved from working with an MSP into wider business growth tactics, you can start to consider how you might grow your business by investing in IT innovations. Although it’s easy to see an MSP as just a group of people who keep your IT systems running, they can provide so much more for your business – that is, if you choose the right provider.
MSPs become an important part of a business’s daily operations, and this means that they’ll witness much of your growth over the time you work with them. In addition to this, they’ll have a cutting edge awareness of all of the latest IT developments, having implemented these technologies into the infrastructures of other companies they work with. Whether you want to utilise an SD-WAN system for your network or install MPLS to improve the performance of cloud-based applications performance, the right MSP can drastically improve your IT systems for the better.
While you may not be easy with these technologies, your chosen MSP will, and their knowledge of these innovations, could be instrumental to making sure your business can maintain the pace of growth you desire. This consultancy service might not be part of the most basic package that an MSP offers, but for just a fee, you can have access to their combined decades of IT experience and knowledge – an investment that will certainly pay off in the long term.
4. How Do You Find The Best MSP?
While there’s a myriad of ways to grow your business, it all essentially comes down to expanding two areas: knowledge and money. If you decide to start working with an MSP, you’ll both gain access to their huge bank of knowledge and be able to start putting your money elsewhere.
However, this growth is only possible with a good provider. It would help if you looked further than the first few Google results that appear for ‘MSP in my area’; good knowledge of SEO doesn’t necessarily translate to IT’s good knowledge.
While you’re scouting out potential providers, it’s useful to ask if they’ve ever worked with companies that resemble your own, whether that’s in terms of their size or the industry that they operate in. You should also ask about their plans for future growth – after all, they need to be able to keep up with your ambitions!
To make the most of your relationship with an MSP, you need to make sure that they have a thorough understanding of your business. If you can form a solid and mutually beneficial working relationship, you can grow together to dizzying heights.
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