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Improve Small Business Customer Engagement with Web Portals

In the world of business, quick access to data can make all the difference. Information is vital, whether it’s inventory logistics with partners, event management with staff and volunteers, customer services, or marketing KPIs. We live in a digital world where instant access is becoming the norm. However, many small businesses are still using patchwork, dated solutions when providing their partners, staff, and customers with necessary information.

What’s the solution? A single point of access for all supporting information, otherwise known as a web portal. Web portals are common. You’ve likely used them in higher education, healthcare, consumer loyalty programs, HR, and payroll, and so much more.

Typically found as everyday infrastructure for Fortune 500s, the democratization of digital software through cloud computing has made web portals accessible for small businesses looking to elevate their operations by organizing information. They provide quick, intuitive, and secure access to information in a way that customizes the user experience.

Web Portal vs. Standard Website

What’s the difference between a web portal and a regular website? Quite a lot, although sometimes they can look very similar.

A website is a series of public-facing pages that provide standard information for all to see. A web portal goes a step further by connecting to a database to share information in two directions. A user can log in and submit information to a database, and the portal can, in turn, provide information customized and specific to the user’s credentials or account.

Think about the difference between the main splash page of a utility provider website and the area you access when you log in to your account, complete with information about your service history and bills.

Now let’s look at how small businesses can use web portals to create valuable experiences for their stakeholders.

Customer Portals

A utility service portal is a typical example of a customer portal, which provides a custom experience for visitors with an account. Think retail sites, telecommunication providers, banking, healthcare, and beyond. Customer web portals give people a place to access all vital account information needed; they can even provide resources that range from customer support to FAQ.

Customer portals integrated into marketing efforts will often take the experience one step further by adding targeted information like blogs, on-site gamification, and loyalty program opportunities.

While the purpose of a customer portal changes per business and industry, they all have one thing in common: profile management. Here, customers can save personal information, banking information, account details like logins, communication preferences, and so much more. This exchange of information is anchored to a database – either on-premise or in the cloud.

Partner Web Portals

What’s the best way to share proprietary, or even sensitive, information with a partner in a way that’s efficient, direct, and secure? One option would be to use email, while the other would be to issue user credentials and allow access to your entire web ecosystem. Both of those would inspire a visit from IT security.

There is a third way, and it’s a web portal for partners, otherwise known as a partner management portal. Similar to the customer portal, a partner portal provides a secure area for data sharing within your digital ecosystem.

Businesses can make available financial, strategic, or operational documents and information necessary to enjoy a smooth partnership. Web portals simplify communications by making information accessible 24/7 and enabling file-sharing systems that stay within a secure network.

Event Portals

If there was ever a need for a secure one-stop-shop of information, it would be event management. Every event includes multiple partners and stakeholders, event participants, vendors, legal considerations, and documents — to name just a few. Events also deal with enough uncertainty that having a “source of truth” spot for updated information is essential. Web portals are must-haves for event management.

The scope of event portals is potentially vast and includes elements of other previously mentioned web portals. User profiles, file sharing, scheduling and signups, maps, and schemas — anything necessary to execute a great event begins in a web portal. In essence, it helps activation teams plan, organize, and execute an event in partnership with various moving pieces.

Sales & Marketing Portals

The sales world moves at a swift pace, so keeping track of information—like KPIs—is foundational to a healthy business. Communication is critical in sales: internal, cross-departmental, partners, distributors, wholesalers, warehouse, and consumer-facing communication are all touchpoints that require information to move in the direction dictated by sales leadership. Web portals provide that opportunity.

A sales portal can house all documents required to properly communicate the strategy and execution of a brand or product. From point-of-sale materials for on-premise retailers to design documents for label printers, a sales portal creates a space to disseminate documents to move the needle and close the deal.

Additionally, marketing departments will find similar uses for web portals. Primarily used as a singular space for sharing documents, designs, and plans for marketing efforts, these can be shared easily within the company and with partners to ensure marketing vision is streamlined across all efforts.

Elevate Your Customer Experience with Web Portals

Web portals are game-changers for the way organizations share information. Not only do they provide a single, organized spot to distribute that information, but they also do it in a way that’s customizable for each user. Implementing a tool like a web portal elevates operations and the reputation of the small business using it.

With the emergence of cloud-based computing, the options for web portals are numerous. Choosing the right partner to help navigate those choices is the first step to rolling out a new and improved chapter in your business operations.

Soliant Consulting is an experienced partner that delivers solutions designed to transform the course of your business. Reach out to Soliant today to learn more.

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