Customer Portal

Refers to the line of communication between an e-commerce enterprise and their customer. Its objective is to improve customer satisfaction and thus long term retention by facilitating and enhancing interactions between customers and the e-commerce enterprise. This line of communication can be administered through a customer contact center wherein customers are able to receive answers to their questions, complete transactions, submit support issues and query the site's knowledge base. Inquiries and issues are handled by contact center agents (live agents, for example, answering telephone calls, responding to e-mails, conducting live chats, making outbound calls, etc.) Contact centers may be very large, employing several hundred or even thousands of members in customer service, sales, and support functions. A single contact center may service many companies, for example, on an outsourced basis, allowing similar customer service work performed by the companies to be consolidated and run more efficiently.

Self Service Customer Portal

Refers to an automated line of communication between an e-commerce enterprise and their customer. Self-service is becoming the channel of choice for today's consumers, with self-service websites becoming an integral element of a web user's interaction with the e-commerce organizations they do business with. Today's, customers expect to interact with their e-commerce organization anytime, anywhere, and from any device. They expect a self-service portal that provides a convenient way to post service issues, place new orders, or view their order histories. A self-service portal allows the e-commerce entity to stay open for business 24/7 around the world while delivering a high-quality, high-touch experience for customers. Self-service is not only a cheaper alternative, but is preferred by a majority of customers, as customers are more likely to provide candid feedback in a self-service environment than when engaging with another human being.