Originally published Mar 12, 2018; updated Jan 18, 2019.
When you run a small business, you want to ensure processes are streamlined so each person can work as effectively as possible. And when it comes to spending less time on admin work, there’s a strong case for putting some of the onus on the customer.
A great way to accomplish this is by offering an online customer portal that is linked to your CRM software. Through this portal, customers can access information and complete tasks. While it may sound like you’re asking your customers to do your work for you, many customers actually prefer to have self-service options.
To really take your productivity to the next level, you can even use a CRM customer portal that connects to your other online tools, like your accounting software. This is why Method:CRM is a great solution for time-strapped businesses: since Method has a two-way integration with QuickBooks, using the customer portal yields even more efficiency gains.
So without further ado, here are 5 reasons your team will spend less time on admin tasks — and more time on profitable work — when you use Method:CRM’s online customer portal.
1. Your team isn’t spending time updating customer information
When you have out-of-date billing or contact information in your CRM, it slows down the entire process of doing business. And if you’re relying on your customers to get in touch to update their info, you may be waiting a while.
Luckily, providing an online customer portal can mitigate this issue. Rather than having to call or email your company, customers can simply log on and update their billing address or contact details on their own time. These changes instantly sync back to your CRM, so your team always has the most accurate information on hand.
Pro tip: To increase the likelihood of customer information staying up-to-date, send a yearly email with the customer’s portal link and ask them to check their profile details.
Method:CRM users: To further streamline how customer data is managed, add the Cases App to your CRM. The Cases App helps you track all notes related to a specific customer issue (complaint, request, etc). Customers can use their online portal as a direct line of communication with your company, submitting tickets or adding updates as needed.
2. Your team isn’t spending time printing invoices and stuffing envelopes
Invoicing through snail mail is a really inefficient way to get paid and it’s costing you money — both in supplies (paper, envelopes, and postage) and in time. Whoever is handling invoicing at your company has to print invoices, stuff envelopes, buy and apply stamps, physically mail the envelopes, check the mail every day, open the envelopes, enter payments into QuickBooks, etc. If your business is still going through this process to get paid, it’s time to move to digital invoicing.
When your online customer portal integrates with your accounting software as well as your CRM, digital invoicing is simple. Create and email the invoice and provide a link to the customer’s portal in the message. When the customer clicks on the link, they can view all of their invoices and their outstanding balance online.
The customer portal solution also saves your team from spending time attaching PDF files to emails, as customers can choose to download their invoices as PDFs from the portal.
Method:CRM users: Brand identity is important, so personalize your customer portal by adding your logo to your Method account. This way when customers access their portal it looks like an extension of your website.
3. Your team isn’t waiting on someone with access to QuickBooks to help a customer
Even if your company is already emailing invoices, sometimes customers will call or email your team asking for someone to re-send a copy. But when there are only a few people with access to QuickBooks, your team has to wait for the business owner or accountant to be available to look up the necessary information. The team member who took the message also has to schedule a reminder to follow up with the customer once they have a response.
With an online customer portal, these requests become non-issues. Simply send the customer the link to their personal portal, and they’ll be able to view all of their outstanding invoices.
Method:CRM users: Every customer with a valid email address has their own personal customer portal. When you email an estimate or invoice to a customer, the email will contain their personal portal link. Additionally, you can find the portal link when you view the customer in the CRM.
4. Your team isn’t spending time accepting payments over the phone
The less time your team spends on the phone, the better. It’s not that your team shouldn’t be connecting with customers, but there are more effective ways they could be spending their time rather than transcribing credit card information.
Instead, customers can pay their invoices online through the portal, using a payment gateway such as PayPal. And as soon as the payment is processed, it syncs directly to your CRM and to QuickBooks.
Method:CRM users: Method supports a variety of payment gateways for customer portals, including Authorize.Net, PSIGate, PayPal, and Intuit QuickBooks Payments (for US versions of QuickBooks Online).
5. Your team isn’t spending time processing orders
When your online customer portal is connected to a customizable CRM platform, you can open up even more self-serve options to your customers. This further streamlines your workflows and reduces the administrative burden for your team.
Consider the story of Method customer Cameron Fleming of HealthLinc Medical Equipment. Cameron worked with Method’s customization experts to enable their physical therapist customers to place orders directly through the online customer portal. These orders are then visible in the CRM.
The project was the first of its kind in Cameron’s industry, reducing the team’s administrative workload while improving the purchasing experience for his customers.
“The therapist logs into the portal, selects the required equipment, clicks submit and all of the information is captured in Method:CRM and queued for confirmation. The therapist receives a copy of the order, and can view all past and outstanding orders for multiple patients on their dashboard — instead of having 18 folders the therapist now has a single portal screen. And because the customer portal timestamps every submitted order, I can track order completion timeframes, and identify where further improvements can be made in the process.”
— Cameron Fleming, President of Operations, HealthLinc Medical Equipment
Providing an online customer portal that syncs with your CRM and your accounting software not only reduces the time your team spends on repetitive tasks, but it also improves the service experience, which helps retain existing customers. If your businesses doesn’t yet offer a customer portal, why not give it a shot?
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