Portals: Why do we need them?

This post is the second in a series about building portals for teams and groups to interact with customers. If you’re interested in reading more please follow us on twitter or subscribe in the right-hand margin of this blog —>

Whenever I see a problem or hear a solution I love working it backward. I think it’s why I loved consulting. I think it’s the inner 3-year-old in me who just loves to ask “why” until someone goes bonkers.

So why do we have web portals to teams, departments and companies?

Easy! So our customers and partners can connect with us.

Why?

So that they can get what they want, how they want to get it!

Why?

To make it easier to deliver it to them!

Why?

So they can be happy and we can be happy.

And that’s good enough for me – don’t get me started on the four types of happiness, but this basically is the goal. Keep people happy. There are a multitude of other benefits. Revenue, cost savings, scalability, governance etc etc. However, to achieve these goals faster than your competitors you need teams that can operate, innovate and move quickly.

This brings me to the most overlooked part of every technology project: the people.

You basically have three main customer groups for every portal. The user, the provider and the provider’s partners. And each of these three categories have a TON unique characteristics. From competency to goals there are many misconceptions and assumptions that can be made of the user. There are also universal givens that can be applied since they are people and they are using the portal.

Now’s where the general basics kick in. Most people want (in all three groups):

  1. Easy
  2. Clear
  3. Fast
  4. Powerful
  5. Freedom

These universal desires were stolen from an article I read about libraries. LOL. But they are fundamental elements of humans search for solutions and information; things that will make them happy in the moment they are using your portal.

Since your team is unique and provides a unique service or product – I can’t provide much more advice than these very general keys.

For instance, if you’re a hospital exposing self-service check ins #3 is probably more important than #5. And if you’re an IT shop numbers 1 and 2 are probably more important than 5.

And this is where your challenge starts. Understanding the users – ALL the users. From the customer, to the people on the queues to the people they pass the work to. Each of them wants to be heard and influence the design and execution of the portal.

This doesn’t mean you can take each person’s input into consideration. Group consensus doesn’t really work that way. Instead, you must use this information as research into the design.

If you’re not into design or have experience with this – it’s bigger than a blog post. I can’t give you all that with some words. It really comes from understanding design. If you’re not ready to learn about user research and design – I highly recommend hiring someone with the experience. It is invaluably successful.

Self Service or Selfish Service?

Is your self-service actually selfish service?

Personally I love this message. All too often the operators of a service sit down and try to make them more “efficient” or “streamlined”. What they mean is efficient and streamlined for them.

This leads to poor adoption, and continues a long standing abuse of the customer experience. What’s in it for me? Am I getting better faster service?

In reality these self-service portals are an afterthought and aren’t truly integral to the service experience!

Read the full article here:

http://www.information-age.com/five-tips-make-it-self-service-more-selfless-and-customer-centric-123460475/

What do you think? Is self-service integral to your service experience? What value is added for your customers and teams through self-service?

Are We There Yet?

magic-cube-cube-puzzle-play-54101tl,dr; flexibility. From buying a new app to acquiring a company, your ability to integrate can make or break returns.

When your doctor prescribes medicine there are many questions. A patient might ask “How long until it kicks in?”

This applies to business decisions as well. Adopt a new system and executives begin to ask “When will realize value?” Start shipping a new product line and investors wonder “When will profits emerge?”

How do we answer these questions with accuracy and speed? One thing acquisitive companies do is compare books. Take a look at the finances. Look at the details of operation expenses, profits and capital expenditures. This gives you a great deal of insight about the hard facts of a business.

There are many other aspects aside from finance though. How do new products get more clarity on when profits will emerge? Unique funding tools like kickstarter have shed light on this. Why not get people signed up to buy before or during design? Have you asked people if they would buy your product? Will they? How will you tell them when it’s ready?

What if you took the kickstarter model to heart?

How will employees know when a new system will be available? When will their jobs get easier or more streamlined? Have you asked for their input?

Kickstarter has a ton of value beyond just crowdfunding. It’s a way to communicate, survey and set expectations. These functions are critical during times of flux and change.

Knowing where our teams, systems and colleagues are within a transition empowers speed.

We’re building your next kickstarter and can’t wait to share it with you. You can also try it out for yourself here.

To learn how our software empowers organizations to architect for fast integration, read our stuff on preparing to realize the value of BIG change.