Portal, Portal On The Wall: Which Customer Service Is Fairest Of Them All?

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Watch your reflection.


Portals: Been there, done that? Think again. A new generation of portals has recently emerged, offering not just “self service on steroids” possibilities, but greater levels of customer attraction and retention.

Case in point: One of Innoveer’s large life sciences customers has launched a new portal to help attract potential patients, who need to get diffused with a particular high-end drug. First, however, these patients have questions: How good are the company’s products and services? Where’s the nearest location at which the patient could be diffused? How do current patients rate the company? Will service agents help patients navigate the inevitable health insurance hurdles?

The answers to those types questions dictate whether companies in highly competitive industries–including not just life sciences players offering breakthrough therapies, but health and disability insurance providers, utilities, or anyone else that competes based on customer service–will not just attract, but retain its customers.

Parlaying Customer Portals Into Long-Term Relationships

When it comes to courting customers in competitive industries, treat them like the Google pros that they are. Our aforementioned life sciences customer, for example, has found that its typical patient is well-versed in researching breakthrough therapies, getting second opinions about which treatments they should pursue, and viewing all companies with a dispassionate, critical eye. Accordingly, the company turned to Innoveer to help it use its portal not just as a more effective marketing tool, but to better serve–and thus acquire and retain–patients.

The result has been a portal site designed to serve three types of visitors:

  1. Unregistered visitors, who may then evolve into one of the two following categories:
  2. Registered visitors, who may or may not be patients
  3. Diagnosed and on-boarded users who become actively case-managed patients for the company’s therapies

The portal provides disease-specific information for all types of visitors. But the information becomes more tailored as visitors become further engaged with the company, as well as their case manager. To support patients’ communications with case managers, the portal offer both a live interface, as well as portal-based email with threaded discussions. The company has also integrated the portal with backend systems to ensure that all patient data remains current.

Portals: Play Both Sides, Now

Thanks to the portal, patients get more direct and convenient access to case managers, required resources, and educational materials, with a more personalized touch. Meanwhile, the life sciences company has seen improved case manager efficiency, as well as higher levels of patient satisfaction with its products, services, more social approach, and treatment outcomes.

Insurance Portals Upsell Individuals

The portal magic isn’t limited to the life sciences sector. In the insurance world, for example, advanced portals are also helping attract and retain customers. For example, one of Innoveer’s customers sells disability insurance to businesses. These policies typically covering one-third- of an employee’s salary for a set period of time–say, a few years.

While that type of disability insurance is sold to a business, an upselling opportunity remains: selling a disability plan to individuals to cover the remaining two-thirds of their salary. But insurance companies typically sell to a company’s benefits administrator, who works with a broker, who then works with a manager at the insurance company. Upselling individuals, accordingly, requires developing portals marketed not to benefits administrators, but directly to individuals.

Insurers, meanwhile, have also been designing portals to improve their relationship with the independent brokers who sell their products to businesses. Relationships may have previously been built on rounds of golf. But today, the most successful insurers provide their brokers with portals that make it easy to handle and process policies, eliminate the need to fax paperwork, and smooth the entire claims process. As ever, time is money.

Customer Retention Equals Success

Another applicable truism, especially in highly competitive industries, is that customer satisfaction is directly related to long-term revenue. In other words, while crafting new-customer-attraction strategies may be sexy, using advanced portals–to keep your customers, improve customer-satisfaction scores, and build a better reputation–is the surest, fastest way to ongoing business success.

Learn More

Building a world-class customer service program takes more than portals. Most of all, it demands business and management know-how. To ensure that your service program excels, be sure to focus on the big picture. To help, review our CRM Excellence Framework to highlight the next “best step” for your CRM or customer service program.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Agustin Ruiz.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.

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