Having worked with membership organisations of all shapes and sizes for many years we’ve learnt a huge amount about how a new CRM can dramatically increase efficiency.

The biggest opportunity that a modern CRM brings, is the ability to implement an intuitive self service portal where your members can self-serve to perform many of the tasks they might have previously contacted your team about.

Not only can it reduce your administrative burden, but its value-added features will lead to greater member engagement. Valuable insights on your members' online activities can also be collected, helping you to make “data driven” decisions.

For any organisation offering services to its members, a self service portal is almost a must.

What is a self service portal?

Before we dig into the benefits, let’s start with the basics. 

A self service portal is the natural extension of IT Service Management (ITSM) practices that permits users to solve their own issues without the need for directly contacting a support helpdesk. This usually takes the form of a web page users can log into and resolve basic questions relating to their interactions with your organisation. It’s also a fantastic way to provide valuable additional services to your members for minimal extra resources.

An example Membership Self Service Portal
An example of a self-service portal linked to CiviCRM

Your members want one!

If you don’t already have a self-service portal, it’s probable that your members might be looking for you to have one. According to research done in 2018, 88% of people expected brands to have one. 81% of people will also look to solve an issue themselves before reaching out to a live representative. There is clear demand for automated solutions which empower people to solve their own problems.

Let’s consider why there’s such a high desire for these sorts of platforms. One simple answer is efficiency. Voice-based support is decreasing in popularity and avenues such as email will frequently result in a delay to solving the issue. With the many concerns modern life brings, being able to resolve a problem quickly is highly valued.

Another massive reason your members may want a self-service portal is personalisation. 33% of people have abandoned brands who haven’t offered them a tailored enough experience. Giving members a specific area where they can address concerns and see personalised content is a surefire way to boost engagement and make them know how valued they are.

Self service empowers your team

One of the most limited resources to any nonprofit is time. As your membership organisation scales, the number of queries your staff will have to field will inevitably increase. This makes responding efficiently to these issues increasingly more complex. Self service portals can offer much needed relief to this problem by eliminating very basic enquiries from your team’s inboxes. Setting up self service infrastructure is an excellent proactive step in more efficiently supporting your members. 

Such portals also offer an excellent opportunity to provide value added services. You can, for example, share member specific content you might not want on your public site. News or member specific events can be shared in a way that previously was unavailable for minimal extra effort. This extra communication channel can make it much easier to spread your messages and will be an asset to your communications team.

What features are on offer?

So now we understand why so many organisations build self service portals, let’s have a closer look at some common features. We’ll be using the example here of the self-service portal we’ve built up alongside CiviCRM over the years. Built from multiple customisable components, this has been implemented for global membership organisations such as WHF.

Invoices in a portal
Help your members keep track of their invoices

Based on their needs, we’ve created a number of different areas for members to serve their needs. Beyond some essentials such as account management, our standard portal offers a range of features, including:

  • A centralised dashboard for the user where announcements, news, events and special messages can be highlighted
  • My memberships where members can view their membership details and renew or update their payment details
  • A news page where you can highlight the latest news written for members and those from your website blog
  • A resources area where members can search and access members-only resources specific to their tier
  • An events calendar where members can find filterable lists of events that might interest them
  • An invoices area where members can check up on any payments they have made to you
  • A committees area to better facilitate any groups you run, with the ability to create events and upload documents via the CRM
  • A certificates section where members can download any certificates they have earned
  • A membership directory where you can list member details if you and they so choose
  • An application management system for both applicants and reviewers
  • A casework area where members can request advice and track the progress of cases

This is an ever expanding list, but the features here can act as a crucial direct interface between you and your members.

Events calendar in membership self service portal
Have an events calendar in your portal

How easy is it to get started?

Surprisingly enough, it can be incredibly easy to get started. You might well think a portal will require a lot of setup to take place, but in reality, you could have one up and running within a few weeks in some cases. This is especially true once you have an understanding of what exactly it is you want and what your chosen platform can deliver. 

Compuco’s portal, for instance, is quickly configurable once the connected CRM has been set up. CRM integrated portals are particularly powerful as they save you from having to duplicate data. Instead, it can be directly drawn from the source with no additional effort on your part. CiviCRM, with its out of the box deep website content management system integration is particularly useful for this, with features like built-in event management your portal can automatically pull from.

Get started today!

If you don’t already have one, now is a great time to start thinking about the difference a self-service portal could make to your members. If you’re interested in some advice on getting started and which software might best suit your needs, we’d love to hear from you, so please get in touch.