The key with portals is ‘the fewer the better’. The more functionality you can fit into one portal the better. Service providers and their resellers ideally want just one portal for provisioning customers, setting rules and then fine tuning. Wallboards, reporting and call recording should be available via a single portal without having to worry about different usernames, passwords and website addresses. The more holistic and joined up the portal, the less training, less support and less support tickets required – and fewer support tickets save both time and money.
Also, portals need to deliver information live, in real time, particularly when dealing with fraud and credit management. Information on something that happened yesterday or two days ago, is of no use.
Appropriate for all users
It’s important that a portal presents information that’s appropriate to the needs of the service provider, the reseller and the customer – it must deliver what each need.
The provider is not interested in whether a customer missed a call, they want to know what customers are live, what services they are using and if they can access the right information to bill customers. And if a customer is unhappy, to associate them with a support ticket.
The end customer wants a portal that allows them to do their own inventory updates. It needs to be simple and easy to do without the need for an expert or the need to run different filters and separate reports.
Self-serve is good for everyone in the food chain. It allows customers to do the key day-to-day administration themselves, and removes the need to raise a support ticket. This means they can add/remove users or create a new department/cost centre without having to contact their service provider. In the past, this activity incurred a managed service fee which some resellers may have been unable to recharge to the customer.
When customers self-serve, they raise fewer support tickets which makes them happier and more loyal. In turn, the reseller has less administration with an improved profit margin. Customers also create their own specialist administrators who become influential on whether to change vendors or not.
And finally, the reseller’s client managers can then focus on looking for new opportunities with the customer rather than dealing with support issues and tickets. They can spend more valuable time looking for new business challenges that the customer may face, rather than being on the back foot.
Read a related article Comms Business.