Community portals are a great place for users with common interests or goals to start discussions, build a knowledge base, and perform self-service tasks. Developing a community portal for your business or brand can help improve customer satisfaction and build an engaged online community.
While you likely have experience using online portals, this post will explain what community portals are and why they are beneficial to businesses. We will also share common examples of community portals used by FinTech companies, governments, schools, and more.
The value of an engaged online community should not be undervalued. Develop a community portal for your business to begin engaging your users in a new way and building a dedicated community online.
What Is a Community Portal?
A community portal is a website that provides information, knowledge articles, self-service modules, and a dedicated place for discussion. A community portal could also be developed as a mobile application. These dedicated online communities serve as a way to educate, engage, and notify audience members. Content on a community portal should be regularly updated and contribute to the knowledge base of the community.
If you develop a community portal for your business or brand, it needs to deliver value to your targeted audience or community. Ideally, your portal will serve as the starting point for the members of your community whenever they have a specific query or need informed guidance. Think of the community portal as a convenient way to share knowledge from various sources.
Many community portals include elements such as:
- Knowledge articles
- Contact lists
- Calendar of events
- Social media links
In addition, most community portals also send email newsletters to interested users to notify them of new content, upcoming events, and general happenings. Community portals can be public or private or a mix of both. Private portals require a password and username to access additional information and self-service modules.
Common Types of Community Portal
There are several different ways to use a community portal for your organization. Many portals can be accessed publicly with additional self-service modules accessed by private login. Let’s look at some of the most common types of community portals, including:
Many school systems, universities, and educational institutions have community portals. Education portals serve students and their parents, prospective students, teachers, administration, and others associated with an institution or school district. These communities allow people to discuss educational goals, communicate with educators, keep up with school events, and more.
Education portals often have a public component where users can see upcoming events and join discussion forums, etc. Plus, in most cases, these portals also have a private component where parents and students can track grades, turn in assignments, access readings, communicate with their teachers, and so much more. Education portals are transforming the education experience and giving parents more oversight over their children’s education.
Banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions like mortgage lenders are used to walking customers through complex information and processes. Financial community portals offer a space where knowledge articles and advice can be shared with customers 24/7. These portals empower people to take control of their financial health and get advice from relevant experts. For example, many people don’t know how to shop around for a mortgage loan or the best way to invest extra money.
Financial portals provide value and expert guidance to users looking for detailed financial information. Banks, credit unions, and other institutions that hold money also benefit from providing their users with online banking options through a private portal. Today, most banks offer users ways to deposit checks, transfer money, open accounts, and more online or with an app. In the past, people would have to visit a bank or ATM to complete one of these actions, but now with self-service modules, users can bank anywhere.
Insurance companies, medical groups, private practices, and other health-related groups rely on healthcare portals to provide the patient experience most people have come to expect. The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated how important communication is in public health. With healthcare portals, people can discuss symptoms, treatments, the illness that is going around, and anything else that pertains to health. They can also access detailed, trustworthy medical information and knowledge articles from trusted sources.
The benefit of these portals is aided by private portals that allow patients to interact with their doctors, track treatments, log outcomes, pay bills, track insurance claims, and more. Many practices and insurance companies are combining public and private portals to simplify the healthcare experience for patients. Through a community portal, people can take more control over their health and records.
Most people and businesses don’t have access to high-level IT consultants. IT portals help people troubleshoot issues, determine which technologies best meet their needs, discuss bugs, and so much more. No matter what type of technology you are interested in, there is likely a dedicated online community that discusses every facet of it and shares knowledge.
IT portals can be invaluable to businesses with small IT budgets, developers who are stuck on an issue, or anyone who is interested in learning more about how technology works. Open-source technologies, in particular, tend to have the strongest discussion communities since anyone can make improvements to the project.
The Business Benefits of Community Portals
So far, we have primarily discussed how community portals benefit users. However, a community portal can be a significant benefit to your business too. So how can a community portal benefit your business?
- Add value to your products and services. A community portal can be beneficial in helping customers troubleshoot issues, understand the product or service they have purchased, increase customer use, and build product value.
- Develop better products or services. An online community is a great place to interact with customers, get their thoughts on specific products, and ultimately use that information to improve product offerings.
- Reduce post-sale support costs. With a dedicated community portal, your business can reduce the cost of customer support while simultaneously increasing customer satisfaction with your product. Who wants to sit on a phone with a support rep when a problem can easily be solved through a self-service module?
- Improve your marketing efforts and sell more effectively. All businesses want to make more sales. To make more sales, you need to fully understand what motivates your customers. Community portals give you a chance to get detailed information directly from your customers. A portal also offers prospective customers the opportunity to talk with existing customers as they weigh their options.
These are the four primary benefits of developing a community portal for your business. If you want to strengthen your brand and add value to the customer experience, build a community portal.
Is your business interested in building a community portal? Don’t cut corners. Speak with an experienced app development partner. A partner will be able to guide you through all of the technical and design considerations that go into creating a community portal that will add value to your business.