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How to Effectively Collaborate With Your Customers Using WORKetc

Don't just transact with your clients — collaborate with them. Here’s how WORKetc’s customer portal CRM helps you do just that.

WORKetc Customer Portal Collaboration

We’ve written about WORKetc’s customer portal CRM before, but there hasn’t been a post yet that gives a rundown of all the cool tricks that you can do with it. Well, let’s go ahead and change that right now.

Customizing the Looks

The most obvious and eye-catching customization you can do to the portal is give it a brand new (and brand-related) finish.

This can help greatly with matching your customer portal to your own company’s unique branding. It adds a professional sheen to your company’s dealings with your clients.

Under Settings > Customer Portal, you’ll be able to customize everything from the welcome message on your portal’s dashboard to the splash background for its login screen. You can, for example, upload an image of your company logo and add it to the login page, as you can see in the image below.

WORKetc Customer Portal Sign In

You can also change the login page’s background. The portal comes with five different splash backgrounds, plus the option to upload your own image. You can find a list of free image resources here.

Another branding-focused option is to embed a customer portal login form into your company website. All you need is a web form that includes “login” and “pass” parameters. You can use the sample code below. Just be sure to replace “YOURDOMAIN” with your actual WORKetc domain name.

<form method="post" action="https://YOURDOMAIN.worketc.com">
E-mail: <input type="text" name="Login" /><br/>
Password: <input type="password" name="Pass" /><br/>
<input type="submit" value=" Sign In " />
</form>

Embedding the login form into your website means your clients don’t have to remember a separate URL where they can access the portal. Plus the web form actually works in two ways. Your clients and contractors can use it to login to the customer portal CRM, while you and your team can use it to login to WORKetc.

Controlling Access

Now that you know how to make the customer portal match your own company branding, let’s get right down to the nitty-gritty.

The customer portal lets you easily provide information to and even collaborate with your clients. Now, each client’s needs are unique — some will need access to specific knowledge base articles, some need to be able to review their support cases, while others still will need to be able to complete tasks you assign to them.

You can control what your clients can access via WORKetc’s contact records settings. As a quick refresher, there are two types of contacts you can use for clients or suppliers: person-type contacts and company-type contacts.

Person-type contacts are used for individual external contacts. These are the people you deal with but aren’t employees of your company. Company-type contacts, on the other hand, are mostly used to house a collection of person-type contacts.

On company-type contacts, you will find a tab that says “Portal”, while person-type contacts will have a tab that says “Customer Portal”. This is where the customer portal magic happens.

On a company contact, you can set the default access for everyone associated with that company. You can choose to give portal access to everyone in that company or only a select few.

Let’s use a five-person company named ZoomerBase as an example. Open up ZoomerBase’s company contact record and click on the “Portal” tab. You can give everybody at ZoomerBase access to the portal simply by selecting “Enabled for All People at ZoomerBase”.

If you only want to give access to some of the people at ZoomerBase, however, select “Enabled for Selected People at ZoomerBase”. This will load a list of people associated with the company. Here, you can control which of the five ZoomerBase people can access the portal by clicking on the “Off” / “On” buttons next to their names and clicking “Save”.

WORKetc Customer Portal Company SettingsCustomer portal settings on a company-type contact.

Furthermore, you can control what your clients can see and do on the portal. You can also set access privileges to these items on a person-type contact record. These settings can override company access settings.

WORKetc Customer Portal Person SettingsCustomer portal settings on a person-type contact.

Working with the Portal

Once your clients have access to the portal, there are quite a few things the can do with it. As you can see in the screenshot above, they can view invoices, quotes, timesheets, projects, and support tickets, as well as view and create tasks.

Giving clients access to these items can help make your business processes even smoother. If you allow a client to view paid and unpaid invoices, for example, they can settle the unpaid ones by making payments through third-party merchant gateways — PayPal, Authorize.net, and 2Checkout. You won’t have to get their credit card details every time they make a payment.

If they have access to projects and tasks, you can let them view the details and status of the projects you’re currently working on for them. Clients with access to projects can upload new attachments and send messages to the team working on that client’s projects. You can also assign tasks to your clients.

WORKetc Customer Portal Dashboard

Let’s say you need a client to review a new mockup for the app you’re creating for them. Just create a task, attach images of the mockup to it, and then assign it to your client. They can then access that task, review the mockups, and give feedback all through the client portal. Less emails, more accountability.

Or let’s say, for example, that you need some digitally signed documents from your client before your advertising company can go ahead with a billboard ad project you’re readying for them. Just create a task, assign it to your client, and ask them to upload the files as attachments through the portal. Simple.

Finally, depending on your WORKetc subscription, you have the option to enable timesheets in the customer portal. This feature allows you to give your contractors the ability to log their timesheets via the customer portal. Used together with project and task access and the customer portal can become the central hub for collaborating and communicating with your freelance contractors.

WORKetc Customer Portal Contractor Timesheets

Portal to Knowledge

The WORKetc customer portal CRM can serve as the central hub for providing support to your clients. You can do this via providing them access to knowledge base articles and dedicated support webforms.

Every knowledge base article you create can be shared with your clients via the customer portal. Even better, you can set specific articles to be accessible only by specific people.

WORKetc Customer Portal

Let’s say you have a mobile software development firm that creates both iOS and Android apps. You can segment your clients by giving them “iOS” or “Android” tags, depending on which service they require.

You can then use these tags to control which knowledge base articles can be viewed by which clients. You can make all your Android-specific knowledge base articles visible to your clients with the “Android” tag, while all iOS articles are visible only to those with the “iOS” tag.

If you work with contractors, you can also use a “Contractor” tag to control which internal knowledge base articles show up on their portal. For example, you can share articles that cover your company’s design language and guidelines with freelance graphic designers that you bring on board for big projects.

WORKetc Customer Portal Web Forms

Support webforms can also be accessed by clients via the customer portal. Similar to the knowledge base articles, you can even use tags to control webform behavior and visibility. You can control webform accessibility on the customer portal via Settings > Web Forms.

Let’s use the sample tags we mentioned above. You can set it so that all clients with the “Android” tag will have a support webform on their customer portal that, when completed and sent, will create a support ticket automatically assigned to your Android app support team. Clients with the iOS tag, on the other hand, will have their tickets assigned automatically to your iOS support team.

With these tips and tricks, you can make better use of the WORKetc customer portal not only to help you do your work more efficiently, but to help your own clients do so as well.

How are you using the WORKetc customer portal CRM to help you and your clients work better? Share your tips in the comments section.

  • I never even considered that the customer portal could be used for contractors. I always assumed it was just a ‘share knowledge articles and support cases’ with clients. I’ll have to pass this article around the office!

    Are these shots from a new version of worketc? they look way nicer than what I’ve got.

    • Hi Branden

      The Portal is a different interface to the main application, which is why the screenshots here look different. Your customers would see something similar to above (unless you change colourscheme) if you were using this.

  • ChristopheJ

    The Customer Portal is crucial functionality for us to manage our Support Cases: it’s the only way a customer can trace all replies for a given Support Case (because the conversation history is not kept as part of a support case, so you don’t know what was replied to in contrast to a mail thread).
    It’s definitely useful that customers can keep track of the open support cases.
    A pity that the great filtering functionality we have inside WorkEtc is not available for our customers to easily review the list.

  • Celina

    For now we just use the portal for invoices and payments. Some of our business clients are a bit more tech savvy and like to see the invoices online, but many still prefer to get an email with the invoice.

  • We’ve customised our client portal with a cool background and with clients who have active projects – we give them access to check on the progress. Will be great to be able to share the Gantt chart of the progress of their projects – hopefully this will come in the next update? 🙂

  • Tim Scheidler

    We are a MSP and we have the portal set up top allow our customers the ability to enter their own support cases. They then have the ability to keep up with all activity on that support case. We are in the process of setting up a specialized Knowledge Base incorporating tags to allow only certain companies to access specific articles. That is a great way to target information to specific groups of clients.

    • FWIW, I think the Tag-based sharing options here are inspired! So simple to use, but so powerful to the end user(s) and to your business. Pleased to hear it’s working for you Tim.
      The best use of this I’ve come across to date is a Company who have a Web Form shared only with their “Platinum” Clients in the Portal. The form submissions create high-priority Tickets that are then fast-tracked and given extra attention.

  • tekrescue

    We love this portal. It’s actually a selling point when bringing on new customers. They like being able to see their account in real time. Keep up the good work.

  • Donna Grindle

    Our project to push the use of the portal has stalled many times this year. This article has motivated me to put it on the discussion list for 2017 priorities. There are so many options there now that never existed before it just makes sense to get it done.

    The best part it is allows us to drop some other tools we have been having to maintain (read pay for). Now, just working out that plan for 2017…..

  • Great article on the power of the portal. Our team is aware of the portal and we have some ideas in the backs of our minds but we have not fully grasped or embraced the portal’s potential. Our team is making great progress in learning and using WORKetc and will soon be ready to tackle the portal. I will share this article with the team to get them thinking more about its potential.

  • @williammullane:disqus @donnagrindle:disqus – if you want to have a chat with us (probably be Sarah or me) about the Portal, we’d be happy to find some time to help you push this forward in the best way.

  • Jaymes Baker

    We built an online knowledge base that is exclusive to our customer for common “How To’s” and other support issues.

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