Customer portals are the personalized point-of-contact that connect a customer to the entire business functions of a business they have purchased from. They are self-service hubs where customers can access business resources, including reporting features, account management, and pertinent information. They are personalized to the customer and serve as a central point of access that allows the customer to manage their partnership with a business. B2B customer portals are designed specifically for a B2B business, so the business customer can manage the relationship and access resources.
B2B customer portals are popular for businesses seeking to optimize their customer experience and increase personalization. The self-service aspect appeals to busy B2B customers who prefer the speed and efficiency of this form of customer service. According to a McKinsey survey of more than 1,000 B2B decision-makers, 86% prefer self-service tools for things like reordering rather than having to talk to a sales representative. A B2B customer portal is a useful tool that creates a more streamlined customer experience with simplified ease of access. That is why HubSpot indicates that 77% of customers view brands more positively if they provide self-service options.
Different Types of B2B Customer Portals
Every enterprise will have a different type of portal, and they are typically hyper-customized to fit the unique needs of a business’s customers. They are log-in-based web environments where clients can access relevant information, place orders, browse merchandise, and more. Each B2B customer portal will differ according to the business, but certain types of portals are more common than others. Let’s examine some of the different B2B customer portal options.
A public portal is an easily-accessed portal that can be used simply through a link and a sign-in. Anyone can sign up for the portal. This is the most easily accessed type of B2B customer portal.
A private portal is a customer portal where only users who receive invitations directly from an administrator can create an account and log in. This is the most common type of customer portal option.
Restricted portals are similar to private portals, except the order is changed slightly. Customers must create an account and request access, and then the administrator can choose to accept their portal request or not.
This is a portal that is primarily used for customer service. It is a self-service platform where customers can raise requests, access knowledge centers, and undergo the onboarding process.
This is a portal intended to help organize transactions with clients. Typically, these portals will include transaction histories, invoicing, documentation, and more.
Primary Client Portals
For companies that have certain clients that contribute significantly to their business and require unique features, customized primary client portals are an excellent option. These are B2B portals that include additional customization. While ideally, all B2B client portals should be customized, primary client portals are often created with clients to accommodate their unique needs. These are helpful for companies that have large clients that need specific feature options.
Main Benefits of B2B Customer Portals
As technology has improved and made it possible for enterprises to create scalable portals for their business customers, the popularity of offering a B2B portal to customers has skyrocketed. These solutions' value is significant for both customers and the enterprises that offer them. Here are some of the core benefits of a B2B self-service portal.
Personalization has become something customers don’t just want but demand. Research from McKinsey shows that 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions, and 76% get frustrated when they don’t receive them. This is true in both the B2C and B2B space. For B2B businesses, providing a personalized customer portal that meets the unique needs of individual enterprise customers will help businesses adapt to the personalization demands of customers. B2B customer portals that have configurable features and show companies crucial information stand out to customers because they are customized to their preferences and show that they are valued.
Customers prefer to handle issues themselves
While many businesses feel they need customer service representatives to walk their customers through everything, the data does not back this up. Your customers value their independence and want ease of access. A B2B self-service portal allows customers to address problems on their time and terms. According to Aspect, 73% of customers say they would rather have the ability to solve a product problem or service issue independently without needing to speak to customer service. A B2B customer portal gives customers 24/7 access to their accounts, where they can address problems and find solutions without needing to rely on you.
Reduce churn rate and improve retention
Churn is something that many B2B companies are concerned about, as churn and retention are defining components of business success. Customer retention is a huge part of growing a business, and retaining current customers is arguably more important than acquiring new ones. According to HubSpot, just a 5% increase in customer retention can increase company revenue by 25-95%. Keeping your customers happy is how you earn their loyalty, and a well-designed, customized B2B customer portal will be an asset. It is a solution that empowers customers and helps convince them to remain with your business.
Improved visibility and heightened understanding of value-add
One of the core features of typical B2B customer portals is a central reporting hub where companies can access data and analytics. Here, you can view information such as orders and payments status and history, invoices, contracts, quotations, and so on. Having available personalized data will help customers monitor their performance and spending. This is a helpful resource for them and can showcase your services' added value. If the data reflects positive growth, viewing that information through your B2B customer portal will show customers the benefits offered.
Reduced support spend
Customer support is an important component of any business that hopes to retain its customers. Businesses worldwide funnel resources into their customer support, and a self-service customer portal is a solution that can eventually pay for itself. With self-service portals, enterprises can add features like chatbots and knowledge centers that greatly reduce customers' need to contact the support staff. B2B customer portals are also available around the clock. This contributes to portals filling important customer service roles and helping enterprises trim their customer support costs.
What companies should consider a B2B customer portal
Customer portals are an excellent solution for various B2B enterprises. There is no one kind of enterprise that should consider a customer portal, as it is a flexible solution that works with any client-facing business. Customer portals tend to be most common for businesses in the ecommerce or SaaS space, as they help customers oversee and manage everything from order management to inventory. Whether you have clients with multiple distributors and a huge host of customers or clients that are smaller, growing enterprises, B2B customer portals are still broadly useful solutions.
Customer Portal Architecture
There is no single B2B customer portal architecture, as every platform is different. Virto Commerce is one of the most popular B2B customer portal solutions, and they leverage a modular architecture with open-source code to increase customizability and flexibility. Users are able to add new functionalities and discard features that don’t suit their needs. It is an API-first solution that blends transparency and flexibility to give customers the ultimate B2B customer portal solution.
Customer Portal Examples
We’ve broken down what customer portals are and why they bring so much value to enterprises. To further that, looking at client portal examples will allow us to dive deeper into how major businesses have leveraged these solutions to drive improved customer experiences and personalization. Let’s look at five excellent customer portal examples to see how these solutions are used.
Industry: Food and Beverage Manufacturing Challenges They Were Solving: Heineken was seeking to digitize their distribution and order management networks while maintaining its focus on sustainability. B2B Customer Portal: Heineken created a Virto Commerce-powered customer portal serving as a branded global platform. The Virto Commerce solution has created a robust order transfer system allowing 24/7 ordering, real-time stock insights, and access to crucial account information. This has helped them drive a 65% decrease in implementation cost while they’ve 10x their growth in online transactions. Download our case study to continue reading about Virto Commerce’s Heineken customer portal.
Industry: Aviation Challenges They Were Solving: De Havilland Canada was seeking to improve aftermarket customer experience, replatform from an archaic legacy system, and navigate complex permission and account structures. B2B Customer Portal: De Havilland partnered with Virto Commerce to create a B2B customer portal that could handle complex B2B requirements. They created a customer portal that unifies data and documentation access for suppliers and buyers, an invoicing portal for suppliers, and provides real-time alerts and analytics. The customer portal was personalized for buyers and suppliers and has led to incredible results. Since launch, there have been 21,000 orders on the platform, with more than 5,000 aircrafts delivered and 15,000+ active users. It stands as one of the highly successful customer portal examples.
De Klok Dranken
Industry: Beverage and Food Industry Challenges They Were Solving: De Klok Dranken sought a scalable platform to help them provide a rich customer experience. They were looking for a future-proof, flexible solution that could change along with their specifications. B2B Customer Portal: De Klok Dranken chose to partner with Virto Commerce due to their solution's agile, scalable nature. They created a B2B customer portal where all customers can access personalized options, including viewing their margins and receiving customized offers. This created a more intuitive order process, easier site navigation, and a more customized customer experience. Download the case study to find out more information about this solution.
Learn about De Klok Dranken
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Industry: B2B eSignature Solutions Challenges They Were Solving: YouSign is created to help small-to-mid-sized businesses with esignatures. They hoped to create a self-service customer portal that would aid them in onboarding and support. B2B Customer Portal: YouSign created a customer portal allowing them to receive specific customer service advice. The portal personalizes the advice according to the user roles and relays the information in a straightforward, educational way. Many of the customer support guides feature how-to videos and onboarding tools, so customers can figure out how to get the most out of the platform.
Industry: Food Delivery
Challenges They Were Solving: DoorDash needed a central hub for their merchants, the restaurants that utilize their platform to connect with customers. This would be a place to update information, access data, and solicit support information. B2B Customer Portal: DoorDash created a Merchant Portal that would serve as the all-in-one access center for their merchants. This is where merchants could tweak their menu offerings, add promotions, access information about their performance through the platform, and find support resources. Their Merchant Portal allows restaurants and stores that use DoorDash’s services to self-service their support with valuable information and a personalized home screen.
How Virto Commerce Helps You Implement Customer Portals
Virto Commerce is a trusted B2B ecommerce solution that provides B2B portals for enterprises. These are flexible, customized hubs that include core features like personalized digital catalog management, checkout, order, and stock management, merchandising, and more. Virto Commerce has been trusted by Fortune 500 businesses spanning the globe, with clients that include Hyundai, Heineken, De Havilland Canada, and De Klok Dranken.
Partnering with Virto Commerce to implement B2B portals is a high-value addition to a digital strategy that can yield incredible results. With an API, .net-based infrastructure, and the flexibility and scalability that future-oriented enterprises crave, Virto Commerce is your answer to streamlining the customer experience and improving customizability. Schedule a meeting with one of our experts today to learn more about Virto Commerce’s enterprise solutions.