Macro 4, a division of UNICOM® Global, has launched an out-of-the-box self-service portal that companies can set up within days to give their customers secure online access to information and documents relating to their customer journeys.
The new Columbus portal allows businesses to avoid the effort, costs and risks of using an internal or external web development team to create their own self-service portal from scratch.
Macro 4 has seen a surge in demand for self-service portal solutions as companies fast-track their digital initiatives during the pandemic to provide a better experience for the growing number of customers who are interacting with businesses online.
“Online self-service is an obvious way to relieve the pressure on contact centers and other frontline teams who are handling increasing volumes of customer queries now that less business is conducted face to face,” said Darren Jack, Technical Services Manager at Macro 4. “The key to doing this successfully is to make sure your self-service portal is easy to use, and gives customers fast access to the information they need, including all correspondence, and important documents such as orders, bills, statements, and so on.
“But many first-generation portal systems are struggling to cope with the explosion in online traffic and they can also be more difficult to use, particularly on mobile devices. Security weaknesses are another common issue. The need to address these problems quickly has accelerated the trend towards ‘short, sharp’ projects that can be completed in a matter of days – with companies opting for customizable off-the-shelf software like ours to deliver a high-quality, branded customer experience with minimal effort.”
Businesses are seeking to improve the breadth and depth of information available on their portals in order to increase customer engagement, as well as reduce the need for in-person or phone contact. Additionally, they are using portals as a more secure way of sharing confidential information with teams in different physical locations.
“Particularly in the current climate, with so many businesses working from home, it’s no longer practical for accountancy firms to send confidential audit reports by post, for example. Companies need a way to make large, complex documents like these easy to access and work with online, without compromising security by emailing them. Our Columbus self-service portal provides a fast and flexible solution to support this kind of requirement,” said Darren Jack.
To meet the needs of remote workers, many companies are also setting up portals catering to employees. For example, human resources portals are improving access to information such as payslips, employee contracts and absence records, both for staff who need secure online access to their own information and for HR teams, who can no longer rely on their paper records.
Strong portal security and enhanced protection for personal and confidential data are priorities as companies face increasing cyber threats and compliance challenges. Macro 4’s self-service portal is underpinned by Columbus DW, the company’s enterprise content management system, which provides encrypted and tamper-evident data storage as well as allowing redaction, strong user authentication, granular access controls, access monitoring and information lifecycle management to enable compliance with the GDPR and industry-specific regulations.
An integrated identity and access management system identifies and authenticates portal users and controls the information that individuals are allowed to access. The Macro 4 system also helps businesses to streamline the onboarding process, which can be a significant challenge when enrolling large numbers of new portal users. For example, once customers have registered for online access they can be automatically sent an email including login information and a link to the portal.
Customers can access information they are authorized to view using any device with a web browser. Internal employees can be given access to the same information through a separate browser interface or on a mobile app.
Importantly, companies are able to customize the Macro 4 system to create a branded portal to suit their own needs, with flexibility about what information is presented and how. The portal can be embedded within an existing website or operate as a standalone site, with the option to include additional useful resources, such as employee contact lists and FAQs, and links to other web pages. The look and feel of the system can be tailored to match the branding of the business so customers have a seamless experience as they move between the portal and other parts of the company website.