Portals For Dummies

Clear Technologies, a CRM solutions provider targeting the mid-market, recently released a new content-management module for its C2 CRM suite. The module in effect allows companies to automatically update regularly changing Web content like service, support, product orders, shipping, and billing on their customer service portals. "The main value provided by the content management solution is the fact that companies can provide immediate updates for customers on a variety of topics," says Mike Guillory, vice president of marketing at Clear Technologies. "Having instant access to data can minimize call center costs, as people do not need to call in for information, and it creates an overall better customer-facing experience." What mid-size companies should like best about the module, according to Guillory, is the product's ease-of-use. "A company can easily manage the information customers can access, and create updates without the need of a Webmaster or site administrator," Guillory says. In addition to the time efficiencies that could be created by eliminating a third-party Web administrator, Guillory notes that companies can see cost savings as well, since they no longer need to pay for site updates. Guillory says the module is most suited for government offices, healthcare providers, and manufacturers; basically anyone with a wealth of time sensitive data a customer may need to access quickly. Customers seeking information from companies that use Clear's new module can also set up their own individual portal based on their information needs, Guillory says, and the module then pulls pertinent, up-to-date information from a company's CRM or back-office systems and presents it to the user. "The product can present as much information as a company wants to make available," Guillory says. Joe Outlaw, research director at Gartner, says that easily customizable self-service portals are surely the way of the future, but notes that some customer populations may not yet be comfortable going online for support. "A manufacturer who produces computers may have a customer population that is more apt to go online to order and check shipping status," he says, "but someone trying to receive information regarding social security benefits may be more comfortable talking to a service representative."
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