Client Portal for a Website

What is a Client Portal for a Website?

17-Jun 2021
Screen Shot 2021 04 12 at 3.56.03 pm
Kirsten McNeice MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST

Communicating well with clients is one of the best ways to win their trust and loyalty for future projects. One way that you can ensure that your service industry firm offers clear updates and information to your clients is through a client portal.

Client portals allow you to seamlessly share the relevant details and updates without spending a lot of time creating separate communications between your team and your clients. It puts them in the driver's seat and helps them see progress over time. 

Setting up a client portal is actually much easier than you think, given the modern tools incorporated into platforms like Accelo. The portal is a branded, professional front for your business online, giving each client the feeling that you've created an updates-and-information site just for them to use.

 

What Is a Client Portal for a Website?

A client portal allows new clients access to certain aspects of the project process through a secure website. Client portal access could include documents, updates on progress, or even messaging back and forth. This secure website also encompasses billing, scheduling, and requests for changes to the plan. 

Client portals are typically accessed online or through an app, depending on preferences for mobile or browser-based access. Both a website and an app give the client and the company more control over the security of their information. 

By storing items in a central portal where your whole team also works, you avoid the problem of miscellaneous software and email solutions that can end up not including all relevant stakeholders. Missing one email shouldn't jeopardize communication clarity.

No one wants to have to proceed in a client relationship with incomplete info, and client portals consolidate that information in ways that allow everyone to operate with the same data points. Client portals level the information playing field and keep everyone connected.

‌‌At the same time, client portals are easy to update so that when things do inevitably change during a project's timeline, everyone gets an update immediately. If your clients are hyper-focused on updates, they can check as often as they like, without bogging down inboxes with frequent messages.

What Makes a Good Client Portal?‌

  • Flexible permissions: A great client portal will include some strong options for visibility and permissions, making it very clear what is available for the clients to see. You can toggle different fields on and off depending on the needs of each client and project.
     
  • Clarity and transparency: A great client portal answers the client's questions before they need to ask them. After all, your team wants to engage with the customer on the most high-impact questions, but for basic data and info-sharing, it'd be great for them to have it all at their fingertips.
     
  • Reliability and mobility: A great client portal will be available 24/7 and easy to maneuver, with clear, clean interfaces so that even less-web-savvy clients will be able to quickly find what they are looking for.
     
  • Security: A secure client portal increases your customers’ confidence that their projects are being managed with care and attention and without any data breaches.
     
  • Documentation and history features: Lastly, a good client portal holds up over time, letting your customers return to old project data and use it to build new requests or purchase orders quickly and easily. It becomes valuable documentation for both your company and for the client, building the case for using your services again.

 

 

How to Use a Client Portal

On the business side, setting up a client portal is fairly easy and starts the client relationship off on the right foot.

  • First, you'll choose what they see and what permissions they have. You'll consider what information or project data will be helpful to them and what would be unnecessary, creating a customized portal that gives them just what they need.
  • As questions arise, you may adjust the portal to give them more or less access to data and project information.
  • When projects reach milestones, you can use the system to send billing statements or receive payments.

 

On the client side, the portal is an easy-to-use resource from the beginning.

  • They'll work with you to understand what is available in the client portal at the start of your business relationship, Once oriented, the hope is that they'll check the portal before sending requests through other channels. 
  • When they run into issues, they'll access the portal to create requests, scope adjustments, or send other communications.
  • Your client portal can help clients ask smart questions in status meetings, focusing on the real issues rather than losing time on getting up to speed. 
  • They can then approve changes right there in the platform, or track issues when they arise so that you can address them as soon as possible.

 

The client portal is first and foremost a tool to help the clients see what's going on, but when projects grow complex, it is also a tool for documenting what has been shared. If you need to manage expectations or reinforce a timeline or budget need, the communications in the client portal help you show consistency in what you say and what you do.

Client Portal Benefits

Extend your Branding

One of the big benefits of a client portal is the opportunity to extend your professional brand and reinforce your excellence as a company. Accelo's client portal, for instance, allows you to add your colors and logos to make it your own. 

‌‌More Security

With phishing attacks and other email-based fraud on the rise, a client portal is a valuable alternative when it comes to secure access online. Your clients want to know that their data is safe but still have at-a-glance access, and portals can do a better job these days than the average email account.

‌Customization

These portals also allow you to customize who sees what during the project timeline. You can also incorporate billing history and online payments into the client portal, making it easier than ever for clients to stay on top of their payments and track how their budget is spent.

Improved Efficiency

There are other indirect benefits of a client portal, most of which have to do with efficiency. When your clients are well-connected and understand what is going on, your team is freed up from frequent messages to instead deliver excellent work faster, meeting deadlines and delighting clients.

Of course, a client portal cannot do everything — the downsides of any software, client portals included, tend to arise when you don't take full advantage of the features available. So a client portal does require more initial input, planning, and management than just firing off emails here and there. 

You may also have to convince a client, at least at first, to take on another system/software and learn the basics of it. A quick tutorial, however, is often all you need to win them over to the advantages. 

That being said, when you recognize all the ways that client portals can be used, which we'll explain even further below, you'll see how the effort to get them up and running is worth every moment spent on it.

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Choosing the Right Client Portal

A client portal is most useful when incorporated into a wider platform that is useful to your team every day. Accelo's customizable dashboards make it easy to plan projects and track results over time, and some basic setup of permissions is all you need to create custom client experiences of the key facts.

Because of its robust website integration abilities, Accelo is particularly useful for connecting all of your team's software systems. Sharing data and communications between systems has never been easier or more efficient.

To get to know the client portal even better and see just how much time you'll save while tracking profitability in your service business, sign up for a free trial of Accelo today!

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