8 WordPress Client Portal Plugins To Streamline Your Site
A basic WordPress website should provide visitors with an easy way to contact you, whether via a phone number, a chat feature, or a contact form that they can fill out. Many businesses use a combination of these, if not all, of them. However, once a visitor has converted to a customer, you’ll want to step up your customer service. They should be afforded the privilege of having all of their questions and concerns addressed as quickly as possible. Because of this, the traditional methods of contact may not be convenient enough for them. If you want to provide the best possible support to your clients, consider setting up a WordPress client portal.
What Is A Client Portal?
A client portal is a part of your website that’s only accessible to your clients. Access is restricted to those without a login and password. Those who do have a login and password (which you would provide to your customers) can access a “portal” that provides them with a more personalized website experience. They can customize their customer profiles, view their purchase history, obtain faster customer support, access various resources, and upload different files, etc.
Benefits Of Using A Client Portal
When giving them access to a client portal, you’re rewarding your clients with a more convenient, personalized website experience. Setting up a client portal will provide your business and your clients with quite a few benefits. The following are just a few perks of a WordPress client portal:
By providing a client portal to your customers, you make it easier to keep track of your customers’ messages. Without a client portal, customers would use multiple channels to reach out to you, making it challenging to track all incoming messages from various sources. Keeping track of all your notifications in one unified portal will make communication more efficient and effective.
Provide A Better Customer Experience
A customer portal’s existence shows new customers that you have put a lot of time and effort into building a website experience tailored to your customers’ needs. Customers will appreciate the ability to access information, receive customer support, and communicate quickly and efficiently. The ability to customize their website experience via the customer portal will also significantly improve their overall customer experience. Of course, the better your customer experience is, the more brand loyalty you’ll develop.
Centralize Point Of Information
Client portals are incredibly convenient for customers because they can access all of their account information. Information such as their purchase history, personal preferences, and a wide range of resources that they can turn to for help, can be found in the client portal. Centralizing all of this information makes it easier for your customers to find and access it.
Reduce Customer Support Costs
Although a client portal is meant to improve customer support, it can help you substantially reduce your customer support costs. A client portal can provide your customers with a self-support system. For example, this system can include resources that will help guide your customers through common issues. They’ll solve smaller problems on their own through your client portal, which means they won’t have to speak with an actual customer support rep. The less your customers have to rely on your customer support team for assistance; the less your customer support costs will be.
Increase Upselling And Cross-Selling Opportunities
Although email is still an effective way to upsell and cross-sell products and services, having a client portal will allow you to share exclusive data about new products and services to all existing customers. You can even recommend new products and services on the front page of your client portal. Essentially, the portal makes it easier to share cross-selling and upselling opportunities with all of your customers and to encourage them to seek out more information on those opportunities. Since you can use your client portal as a centralized point of information, it will be a lot easier for customers to delve deeper into any upselling or cross-selling opportunities that you present to them.
What Makes A Good Client Portal?
To add a client portal to your WordPress website, you will need to download a client portal plugin. You’ll find that there are a lot of different client portal plugins available for WordPress. Before you choose one, you should have an idea of what a good client portal is. Selecting the wrong client portal plugin can be disastrous. A poorly designed client portal can hurt your website experience and leave your customers frustrated. These are some of the factors that contribute to an effective client portal:
Strong Security Features
Use a client portal that provides several levels of authentication and security. Making sure that your customers’ personal information will remain secure is critical. If your portal were to be hacked and your customer data leaked or stolen, it would severely hurt the trust customers have in your brand. The client portal you choose should include the following:
- HTTPS protocol
- SSL (secure sockets layer)
- LDAP (lightweight directory access protocol)
- Single Sign-On
- IP Whitelists
- Password Expiration Policy
An Intuitive Interface
Your client portal is supposed to make your website more convenient for customers to use. One of the main goals is to improve their overall customer experience. If your portal’s interface is poor, it will only hurt your customer experience. The portal you choose needs an intuitive interface that makes the portal easy to navigate and understand.
Because of the sensitive customer data that will be accessible via your customer portal, be sure that you can control who has access to it. Permission-based controls ensure that you can restrict access to specific employees and that you can just as easily remove permissions when needed (such as if an employee with access leaves your organization).
Ensure that the plugin will be easy to integrate with your WordPress website and that it won’t cause any issues when you implement it. You may want to consider plugins that offer other integrations, such as with your CRM or with a payment processor to accept payments via your portal.
In addition to an intuitive interface, the portal should provide users with functionality that further improves their customer experience. For example, the ability to customize their profile, find the information they’re looking for, make changes to their account, place orders, and arrange online payments should be easy for customers to do through your portal.
Choose a client portal plugin from a developer that provides extensive support to its customers. Make sure they offer the help and assistance you need when implementing the plugin and maintaining it. Ask if there are issues down the road or you have questions about the features or functionality, will there be someone available to provide the necessary support.
Scalability And Adaptability
As your business grows and evolves, be sure that your client portal can scale and adapt. It should be able to handle an increase in users as your customer base grows. And as your company evolves, you’ll want a client portal that provides some flexibility to adapt to changing needs.
Best Client Portal Plugins
Now that you know what to look for in the right client portal, it’s time to look at your options. Unfortunately, the number of client portal plugins that are available can be overwhelming. To help save you some time, the following are eight of the best client portal plugins available for WordPress sites:
Clinked provides a wide range of features, including the ability to assign tasks, establish deadlines, organize meetings and events, provide real-time project updates, and to create a workspace for you and your customers. This incredibly secure plugin also lets you share files, collaborate, and chat with your customers. The Starter plan is $99/month and provides 100GB of storage, unlimited guests, and 100 members.
MemberMouse allows both you and your clients to upload any size and type files. Importing existing clients into the MemberMouse portal is easy as well. One of its more unique features is serving custom home pages based on your customers’ membership levels. Additional features include order history, access rights, engagement statistics, and the ability to update client profiles and billing details. Finally, MemberMouse has a wide selection of integrations that include MailChimp, PayPal, Stripe, etc. Their Starter plan is available for $19.95/month and includes 1,000 members.
3. Client Portal
Client Portal is considered a premium plugin option that offers a wide selection of features and functionality to your customers, including built-in sections devoted to content, contracts, invoice receipts, deliverables, prototypes, etc. You can also customize your sections as you like. There are two plans available: a Single Site License ($199/year) and a Multiple Site License ($399/year). The Single Site License provides unlimited portals for one website, free updates, free support, and free one-on-one live setup. You can keep the plugin if you don’t renew your subscription as well.
If your focus is on educating your customers, then LearnDash is a good option. It’s a plugin that’s favored by teachers for use by their students, but it can also be used if you have valuable content and training resources that you want to offer exclusively to customers. Some of the features provided through LearnDash include the ability to drip-feed content, set up engagement triggers, sell courses and more. There are also tons of integrations that you can add to the portal, such as Stripe, WooCommerce, Zapier, and more. Three plans are available, including a Basic package for a one-time $159 fee that includes a one-site license and one year’s worth of support and updates.
SuiteDash is a popular client portal plugin packed with features, including invoice generation, online payments, project management, CRM, and live chat. Its data is fully encrypted, and the same information is shared in all of its components, which means you won’t have to copy or duplicate entries. A Basic plan is available for $9/month, which allows five projects, five members, and ten clients and 1 GB storage. There are three other plans available.
WP-Client is a user-friendly plugin that also provides the ability to customize its code. You’ll be able to create templates and customize layouts, colors, and designs. The plugin offers the ability to enable and disable functions as well as control permissions. As far as features go, you can create estimates and invoices that customers can pay and view online, assign every customer to their client manager, maintain a chained record of messages, and allow clients to upload and download files through the portal. A Basic plan is available for a one-time licensing fee of $59 (although an additional $20/year is required for updates and support). The plan comes with unlimited clients, managers, and invoices for one URL.
7. Simple Membership
Simple Membership is a free plugin that lets you create a secure client portal for your site members. You can set up an unlimited number of membership levels as well, including free and paid memberships. Simple Membership allows users to pay for membership using PayPal, Stripe, or Braintree. Members can use the portal to access protected content through their dashboards. The plugin comes with an editor that will allow you to add pages, a forum, and new posts to your client portal. You can also add private browsing and generate content restrictions. Simple Membership also makes it easy to customize your client portal’s appearance to reflect your branding better.
8. Client Dash
If you do not need an extensive set of features, Client Dash is a good option. It’s a simple plugin that offers all of the essential features that a standard client portal plugin provides, making the user interface simple and easy to use. Despite the simplicity, you can still customize the dashboard to fit your needs. You can also add, remove, and rearrange WP dashboard widgets with ease. One of the most significant advantages of using the Client Dash plugin is that it’s open-source, which means it’s free.
Custom Development Vs. WordPress Plugins
Although there are plenty of reliable WordPress plugins to choose from that allow you to add a client portal to your website, they don’t always provide the customization that you may need. They’re out-of-the-box solutions, which means that you might want to consider developing your custom client portal if you have specific needs. It does take more work and will require knowledgeable developers, whether you hire them in-house or decide to outsource. Be sure to ask yourself the following questions when choosing between custom development and an existing WordPress plugin:
What Features Do You Need?
There may be specific features that you need your client portal to have, such as customers’ ability to manage payments through the portal. Not all plugins will have all of the features you need. You may even have a tough time finding the right plugin if you have a laundry list of features that you want. Custom development might be the way to go if this is the case. Additionally, when you pay for a plugin, it may come with features that you don’t need. Not only are you paying for features you won’t use, but they could also intrude on your user experience. This intrusion is especially likely if there are dozens of features available in the client portal that will be of no use to your customers.
What Kind Of Budget Do You Have?
Some plugins are open-source or are available for one-time fees. However, these are limited in their functionality. More robust plugins will be more expensive and will need to be renewed every year. Additionally, you may have to upgrade your plan as your business grows. When it comes to custom development, the upfront cost might seem significantly higher. Still, you’ll have more flexibility, and it could save you money over the long run, especially since you’ll be able to deploy it across multiple domains.
Do You Need A Temporary Or Long-Term Solution?
If you’re just adding a client portal to provide your customers with a couple of specific features and more of a temporary fix to your existing WordPress site, then a plugin will do just fine. However, if you’re looking to implement a long-term solution, you may want to consider custom developing your client portal.
How Will Your Choice Affect The Front-End Design Of Your Site?
One thing to be careful of when choosing a plugin is that it could affect your site’s front-end. If it changes the front-end of your site, it could slow down your website. The more files and the larger those files are, the more likely it will slow down your site. When you implement a plugin with features you don’t need, you could end up bogging down your site for no reason.
How Specific Are Your Client Portal Needs?
If you don’t have too many specific needs and only have a couple of general features that you want your portal to have, then a plugin should suit your needs. However, if you have many requirements specific to your industry, custom development is likely your best option.
How Much Ongoing Maintenance Will be Needed?
You can build your client portal with your future needs in mind so that it won’t require a lot of maintenance. Still, you should expect to update some elements in the future, whether you’re looking to add new functionality or simply update certain features. However, with a plugin, you will receive a certain level of support based on your subscription plan. Unfortunately, some plans offer limited support. For example, plugins with one-time fees often only provide a year’s worth of support and updates.
Custom Client Portals For Those Who Need More
A client portal is an incredibly useful feature for your existing customers and can go a long way towards improving your overall customer experience. While there are plenty of excellent client portal plugins available for WordPress sites, you may want to consider custom development if you have specific needs outside of the typical plugin.