3 Self-Service Benefits of Portal Software

By: on June 5, 2017

If someone had a question for your business, would you tell them to go find an answer themselves? Your first answer is probably “no.”

But maybe you should … if you have portal software, that is.

With portal software, businesses can implement tools that allow different groups to answer questions or process requests themselves, which can benefit both parties in a number of ways.

Using past primary research conducted by Software Advice, let’s look at three significant self-service benefits that portal software can bring.

#1: Portal Software Proactively Solves Problems

Providing superior customer support is essential to the success of any small business. Do support well, and 90 percent of consumers will pay more money for the effort. Do support poorly, and 61 percent will go to your competitor. That’s a make-or-break difference.

This is easier said than done, of course. Beyond having knowledgeable employees to man the phones and reply to customer emails, small businesses in 2017 also need to be proactive and provide self-service answers in the place where customers most often take their questions: Google.

In a Software Advice consumer survey, 73 percent said their first move when they have a question for a company is to look for answers online.

What Consumers Do First When They Have Questions for a Company
consumer query methods
Source: “How a Customer Self-Service Portal Improves Customer Experience”

Customer portal software provides an optimal method to offer this proactive support. Using these platforms, you can create a searchable knowledge base with answers to common questions and concerns. These answers can then be indexed by Google, to show up at the top of the search results page for relevant queries.

In the example below, Apple’s customer support portal is the first search result for the query “safari doesn’t load on macbook.” If I have a problem, I search on Google for it and immediately get sent steps for remediation from the most reputable source to fix the issue: the company who made the product.

Google search boxSource: Google

Using customer portal software, you can meet customers where they already are with their issues and empower them to find a solution through self-service.

 BOTTOM LINE:  If you’re struggling to meet the needs of external audiences (customers, clients, partners etc.) to the point where they call or email your business in frustration, consider investing in portal software to provide a more proactive layer of self-service support.

#2: Portal Software Fosters Better User Experiences

Between growing wait times and ballooning out-of-pocket costs, it’s easy to understand why people don’t look forward to going to the doctor these days. It’s not the doctor that’s the primary source of patient frustration though—it’s their staff.

A study of 35,000 online physician reviews last year found that only 4 percent of complaints were about the quality of care. The other 96 percent were related to customer service.

If you’re an understaffed small practice, how do you address this issue? The answer isn’t hiring more or better people (though that can certainly help). Instead, the best solution lies in taking necessary processes out of the hands of staff and into the hands of patients through patient portal software.

Practices are increasingly making use of this technology to deliver better patient experiences. According to two Software Advice surveys of U.S. patients, patient portal adoption increased 37.5 percent from 2014 to 2016.

Patient Access to Portals, 2014 vs. 2016
patient portal adoption
Source: “What Makes a Great Patient Portal?”

These portals foster better user experiences in two ways. First, they eliminate the pitfalls of human interaction, where breakdowns in communication can lead to frustrating data entry errors (which are becoming increasingly common as healthcare becomes more complex).

Second, they provide patients the means to perform necessary tasks or look up important health-related information on their own time from anywhere—a more flexible environment that doesn’t involve wait times or office hours.

The result is that many patients with portal access are opting to handle a number of pre- and post-care processes themselves.

A Software Advice survey of U.S. patients revealed patients want to use a portal to handle things like scheduling appointments (47 percent), viewing their health information (42 percent) and paying bills (40 percent).

Most Requested Patient Portal Features
most requested patient portal features
Source: “What Makes a Great Patient Portal?”

If your patient portal is implemented properly and free of migraine-inducing bugs, allowing patients to perform tasks themselves on their own time can significantly improve service satisfaction.

 BOTTOM LINE:  Hospitals aren’t the only businesses that can benefit from providing better end-user experiences through software. If people outside of your organization aren’t satisfied with your support staff, consider implementing portal software to foster more positive interactions with your company.

#3: Portal Software Frees Up Time for Important Initiatives

If they had the choice, HR departments would likely spend all of their time on things like spearheading employee development or cultivating a dynamic company culture. Unfortunately, an endless mountain of paperwork often stands in their way.

A 2016 study by PEO company G&A Partners found that HR professionals spend more than 70 percent of their working hours tending to tedious administrative tasks—filling out forms, updating personnel files and processing employee requests.

In order for HR personnel to focus on strategic initiatives to better the business, small businesses can utilize employee portal software to offload many of these responsibilities to the workers themselves.

If someone at the company wants to sign up for health insurance or change their address, they can do so on their own time through the portal, and the change is automatically logged in the HRIS.

According to a Software Advice survey of HR personnel, 89 percent say they save a “significant” or “moderate” amount of time on tasks related to benefits administration with an employee portal.

Time Saved on Benefits Administration Tasks With Employee Portal

time saved on benefits admin tasks graph

Source: “Using Self-Service Portals to Improve Benefits Administration Efficiency”

By streamlining HR service delivery through an employee portal, your HR department can have time to turn their attention to strategic efforts.

 BOTTOM LINE:  Besides benefitting end users like customers or employees, self-service capabilities set up through portal software can also free up your staff to focus on other, more important, problems that need to be addressed in your business.

Takeaways and Next Steps

Portal software can benefit your business, as well as the groups your business interacts with, in a number of ways. Self-service can proactively solve customer complaints, improve relations with patients or free up your HR department from tedious administrative work.

The next step is to figure out what software will provide the best portal capabilities for your needs. One option is to invest in a central business system with an integrated portal. For example, CRM systems often include a customer portal as part of their core functionality. The same is true with HR platforms and employee portals.

If, however, you have a unique external audience in mind (channel partners or an agency on retainer, for example) or wish to customize your portal from scratch, standalone portal software may be your best option. These products can integrate with many core systems.

Should you still need help finding the right portal software, call one of our expert advisors at 855-998-8505.

You may also like:

How a Customer Self-Service Portal Improves Customer Experience

What Makes a Great Patient Portal? Top Benefits, Features and Implementation Tips

7 Tips for Implementing Customer Self-Service Like a Pro

Compare Portal Software Systems