Streamline Processes with a Customer Portal

Streamlining your equipment finance/leasing business processes to make them more efficient is critical to your company’s success. Custom web portals provide self-service to your customers, decreasing calls and emails regarding account inquiries and increasing customer satisfaction. Let’s explore the details and benefits of providing a portal solution.

Customers Expect It

Research shows that over 63% of customers want to be able to access their account information online rather than make a phone call. They get their questions answered instantly and can access things like their account details, retrieve invoices, view payment history, and make a payment.

Access to Detailed Information at All Levels

You determine what information gets displayed on your portal and who can access it.

If your customer has multiple contracts, the portal can provide consolidated open item information at the Customer level by charge bucket so that they know exactly what is due. Financial fields such as Total Balance Outstanding, Principal Balance of Loans and Net Investment of Leases can be displayed based on the user that is signed in so you can choose what a customer can see versus an internal employee.

Contract level details can provide them with their commencement date, termination date, term, lease payment amount, etc.  The customer can view their open item information for current, past due and total due. And miscellaneous charges can be itemized and/or grouped together by charge types.

Asset level details for asset tracking can also be shared. The information can include serial number, model, equipment description and the asset location.

Expedited Payments

An online portal provides your customers with the ability to schedule a payment for their open items by total due, invoice number, or other options. The portal then can interface with your bank for automated processing. Batches are created automatically so the funds can be posted to their account on your leasing software platform.

Banking information is captured securely and displayed encrypted in the portal. The customer can have banking information by contract and the ability to make updates as needed. The information flows real time to/from your leasing software.

It can also allow them to set themselves up on automatic recurring payments, so they are guaranteed to keep the account current. The portal will interface with your leasing software to set the appropriate fields and parameters needed.

Payment History

Having online access to their payment history allows your customer the ability to see that their payment has been received and posted to their account. The ability to download their payment history can be beneficial when reconciliation is needed.

Go Paperless and Invoice Access

Emailing an invoice provides a soft copy to your customers and saves your company on postage. Choosing the paperless option in the portal captures the desired email address and sends it to your leasing software and codes the account appropriately. The invoice file is converted in the portal, emailed to the customer, and stored for future access through the portal.

Your portal can also obtain, store, and provide access to invoices for accounts that are not on Go Paperless.

User Access Options

Getting and providing access to the customer web portal is a critical topic for safeguarding sensitive data. If your company has single sign-on, it can be utilized to provide access. Otherwise, your customers can go through a self-registration process requiring security questions, password validation and multi-factor authentication for an additional level of security.

Your team, internal users, can “impersonate” a customer so that they are seeing the same thing in the portal and can assist if needed. Many times, internal users choose to obtain contract information directly from the portal as opposed to accessing it through the leasing software due to it being more streamlined and user friendly.

And there’s more…

I’ve shared details of the main features that you can accomplish with a customer portal, but it doesn’t stop there. A custom portal can be built to include anything that your company needs, such as:

  • CMS for FAQ’s, policies, specific messages, managing graphics
  • Search functionality
  • Credit card payments
  • Meter reporting
  • Buyout Requests
  • Equipment return letters
  • Delinquency messaging
  • Chat room functionality
  • Reporting and customer driven ad-hoc reporting

What are the next steps?

In selecting the right company to build your custom web portal, look for resources that have expertise in the equipment finance/leasing industry. Also, experience working with the leasing software platform that you are using can be a big help in terms of time and cost for the overall project.

I recommend doing a discovery phase with a prototype. Determining all the requirements in advance helps to create the “blueprint” for the actual build. And the ability to review a protype will ensure it has the look you desire, the fields you want to include and the functionality you want to make available to your customers.

Be sure that at the end of the discovery phase all documentation and materials created are yours to keep. The company should now supply you with a statement of work (SOW) for the build. Because you went through the discovery phase, the SOW should reflect that in both time and expense. Also, by having the documentation and materials, you can take that to other web designers to ensure you are getting the best price.

Another consideration is ongoing support. You need to know that the company you have chosen to design and build your portal will be available to you to answer questions, resolve any issues and implement any future enhancements you may want.  And they are going to do it in a timely manner.

Closing Thoughts

I hope I have conveyed the benefits a custom portal will provide to your customers as well as the efficiencies that it will promote in your business.