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Ensuring That Customer Portals Are Secure and Suitable

Trent Cotney Customer Portals
July 14, 2021 at 11:00 a.m.

RCS Influencer Trent Cotney says customer portals are great, as long as they are airtight and truly serve your clients. 

A customer portal is a convenient, centralized tool that can help streamline your interactions with your customers. With this online offering, you can efficiently store all communications with your customers, rather than having to sort through and store hundreds of emails. The portal enables you to have all their information at your fingertips, instead of on business cards or buried somewhere in a PDF and allows customers to sign contracts and pay bills online. A robust customer portal can be a game-changer for your company. 

But are such portals secure? Can your customers be sure that their information is private and safe? The answer to that relies on how careful you have been in creating and maintaining such a portal.   

If you hire a company to install your portal, make sure it has a reputable track record. Ask to see other portals they have built, and check with their other clients. If the company resists or you hear complaints, look elsewhere. 

If you opt to have your IT department create your portal, discuss your priorities with your team. Make sure they understand that information security is of utmost importance. If your clients have their information breached, you may never be able to rebuild that trust. 

Whether you use in-house or outside services to create your portal, be sure that the following guidelines are incorporated: 

  • Use a multifactor authentication for your system since passwords sometimes can be guessed or compromised in other ways. It should never be easy for someone to sign on and impersonate one of your clients. 

  • Implement software that blocks malicious malware and other harmful activity. 

  • Set a policy for deactivating inactive users and removing old data. 

  • Employ a third-party tester to review your portal’s security and point out any weaknesses. 

  • Make the platform user-friendly and intuitive. If it is hard to manage, clients may get frustrated. 

Even if your portal is rock solid, you may find that some clients are hesitant to use it. They might prefer to send an email, pick up the phone, or sign a contract in person. If you perceive that hesitancy, assure them that they can communicate in whatever way that makes them most comfortable. After all, customer service is more important than forcing unfamiliar technology. But also assure your customers that information provided on the portal will never be shared with other companies or clients. When you train your staff to use the portal, be sure they understand your policies and treat the information with care and confidentiality. 

A customer portal can be a timesaver for your team. Just make sure it is secure and is serving your clients in ways that make them feel valued. 

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation. 

Trent Cotney is an advocate for the roofing industry, General Counsel of the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) and several other industry associations. For more information, contact the author at 866.303.5868 or go to www.cotneycl.com.



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