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5 Key Features that every Microsoft Client Portal Should Have

12 August 2022
  

You know the importance of keeping your clients happy but, let’s face it, keeping up with questions, requests and inquiries – as well as keeping track of all that information – is a daily and costly challenge. 

And then there's the issue of security; after all, many of those documents and interactions between you and your clients contain sensitive financial and business information and neither party could afford to have that information go astray.  

Being able to share information easily but securely, or better yet, enabling your customers to self-serve and access what they need, increases efficiency and helps you deliver an even better customer experience. Which explains the rise of client portal software and why so many of our clients are looking for solutions that enable secure, streamlined and effective collaboration between their people and their clients, suppliers or service providers. 

 

What does a client portal do?

A client portal (or extranet) is a website or app where your clients can easily access information, communicate with your team and stay updated on the progress of your joint project or the services you are providing.  

A client portal is a sharing mechanism between a company and its clients: a secure, electronic gateway to a collection of relevant files, information and services. Your organization provides clients with an entry point – a username and password, typically – to an area where they can read and exchange information directly and securely with your team. 

Client portals are prevalent in many sectors. Owing to the nature of the industry, law firms make up a significant number of client portal users. This is because lawyers collaborate and interact with clients constantly, produce a significant amount of paperwork and require confidentiality. It makes sense that legal teams in particular need convenient, safe file-sharing functionality. 

 

What are the benefits of a client portal?

1. Information sharing 

Client portals make information available to your clients whenever they need it – and when it suits them. Providing your clients with the information they need builds their trust and confidence in your organization. Your clients are also able to keep up with progress and provide input and feedback quickly. 

2. Client experience 

People often prefer self-service, especially if they need information quickly and access to the information they need makes them feel empowered. A secure, straightforward user experience contributes to the overall customer experience and retention levels. 

3. Efficiency 

Enabling your clients to self-serve relieves your team of various administrative tasks. And goodbye hours of searching for that document you know you saw last week ... Plus, a good client portal will enable your team to manage user access and set up teams, without having to log a request and wait for support from the IT department. 

4. Security 

Sharing files across multiple emails is time-consuming and messy, not to mention unsecure.

Good client portal software allows you to manage user access easily while protecting your data and reducing the risk of data breaches.  

 

Further additional benefits of using a client portal, include:

  • Improved visibility for your customers and access to real-time information 24/7, 365 days a year
  • Reduced internal email traffic to source information
  • Improved internal and customer communication

 

Using Microsoft Teams and SharePoint for secure client portals

Using Microsoft Teams and SharePoint for your client portal is a logical choice for any organisation that has already invested in Microsoft 365 – which accounts for over a million companies worldwide.

A client portal in Microsoft SharePoint is a site where external partners have access to specific content.  The content for your client  is kept in one place and they have only the content and access they need. They don't need to email the documents back and forth or use tools that are not sanctioned by your IT department.

Microsoft Teams and SharePoint are already powerful collaboration platforms that can be extended to serve as secure client portals and come with the benefits we’ve come to count on from Microsoft, namely: 

Saves money. Extending your use of Microsoft 365 to client portals means there’s no need to invest in additional software or licenses. If you already have separate software for a client portal, replacing it with Microsoft 365 will save you the cost of maintaining a different system that possibly only catered for a niche group of users.

Ensures secure collaboration. Microsoft 365 comes with solid security and document management functionality, making it one of the safest ways to share documents and data. Using it for a client portal means the set up will follow configurations within your Microsoft 365 environment, so your client portal provides a highly secure sharing experience in line with your IT governance and policies.

Auditing and reporting. Microsoft 365 client portals offers visibility into the access of your content by your clients. One of the key  benefits is to be able to audit usage, including being able to see who is inviting whom and when a guest logs in to access the content. See Search the audit log in the Security & Compliance Center for more information.

 

How to setup a client portal in Microsoft 365

 

 

5 key features that a Microsoft Teams client portal should have

A good client portal can bring your organization – and external parties – together, building strong relationships and enhancing collaboration. These are the 5 features we believe are key to building an engaging, user-friendly client portal where your people, partners and clients can securely meet, collaborate and exchange information.  

1. Simple to setup 

You will want automated and robust provisioning with your client portal software so that granting and managing user access is simple and secure. The user experience should be equally straightforward. 

2. Secure collaboration tools

Security is a big concern for businesses especially when sensitive client data is at stake.

A client portal must provide a highly secure sharing experience that meets the requirements of your IT governance and policies but at the same time have the right tools to encourage collaboration.

3. Strong user focus 

It’s important to be able to make your client portal relevant to your audience; a user-focused portal with targeted content helps engagement and productivity.

4. Powerful search

With all that information comes a need for fast, useful search. Users should be able to find what they need to get their work done, whether it’s searching for people, files, sites or answers to common questions. 

You'll want an enterprise search experience that increases productivity and saves time by delivering relevant search results quickly. Search should also help users find what they need to complete their tasks in the app they’re already working in.

5. Consolidated view

Integration with data and existing tools is essential for building a future-proof client portal.

To succeed in today’s competitive environment, it is important to break down silos across departments and teams, to consolidate data and have a unified view of the customer. By bringing all this together, businesses are better able to understand and respond to their customer needs, which in turn leads to growth.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Atlas is the Microsoft 365 client portal of choice

Leverages your investment in Microsoft 365

Atlas is the only solution that is truly embedded in Microsoft 365. This means you can consolidate and migrate multiple business platforms on top of your existing Office 365 investment and leverage its value.

Maximises knowledge sharing

Atlas provides next-level search functionality. It’s a powerful platform that allows everyone, including external partners, to share best practices, weigh-in on pressing topics and provide valuable feedback.

Self-service setup

Atlas ConneX is a wizard-driven provisioning tool that makes set up simpler and faster. Backed by a powerful governance framework, Atlas ConneX enables more people across the organization to do what they need.

One place for everything

A well-designed client portal has all the information that a client needs in one place. Atlas makes it simple to bring all  information together in one place.

Ensures secure collaboration

Many documents, particularly legal ones, need to be handled sensitively. Atlas incorporates powerful security as well as document management functionality, making it one of the safest ways to share documents and data.

Increases efficiency

Atlas drives efficiency and reduces the time lag that’s all too common when working with multiple parties. By centralizing data, and with its powerful and intuitive search functionality, Atlas greatly reduces the amount of time spent searching for documents. And Atlas’ extensive permission and privacy controls mean minimized risk and costly mistakes.

Industry-specific requirements

Atlas is flexible and customizable so it meets different industries’ specific requirements. Atlas works for law firms collaborating on case materials, construction and engineering firms collaborating on joint ventures, to professional services managing development deal rooms.

Creates dynamic customer experiences

By connecting data, knowledge and insights in one platform, you can deliver dynamic customer experiences.

 

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Author bio

ClearPeople

ClearPeople