Developing A Customer Portal

When a key customer told this national logistics and construction management firm that they would win more of their business if information and reports were available online, they came to BRIO to find a way to securely pull information out of their existing on-premises system and make it available for customers on the web.

The Project

  • Cloud-based webapp built with .NET MVC and a SQL Server database
  • Secure API endpoint with Windows Console app
  • Role-based permissions that segment access
  • Notification engine to generate and send emails
  • Azure hosting

Delivering self-service rental requests and on-demand reports gives this rental company an edge over their competitors with an easy to use customer portal.

For more than 20 years, this national firm has specialized in waste services and job site logistics. With operations running 365 days a year, usually with same or next day services, our client needed to meet changing service demands by adding a self-service rental portal to their list of ways for clients to request, change, or report on rentals.

Though their system to run rental operations met internal needs, it didn’t provide a front-end interface or website for clients to access. Bringing their data online meant developing a webapp that displayed information from their internal system and let customers enter information online that could be pushed to the source system for official processing.

Customer input and feedback whittled down a giant list of potential features to a manageable set that provided the most value.

First things first: let’s understand the users and the data, and how they’ll interact with each other.

BRIO ran a series of interviews with project stakeholders — both with our client and our client’s client — to understand what various parties needed to get out of the final project. We first took a deep dive into the data available to us in the existing system to understand how different fields and modules were used internally, including what dependencies they had, what processes they kicked off, and who managed them.

With a clear idea of internal business processes, BRIO turned to future users of the system. During this period we heard what features were needed from the customer to make the portal competitive:

  • It had to be simple and mobile. With a user base that isn’t technically savvy, the interface needed to be intuitive whether it’s being accessed from a desktop or mobile device.
  • It had to offer different levels of access. People using the portal don’t all fall into one category, and need to see different information based on their role.
  • Reporting was essential. With stricter regulations and requirements around recycling, the client needed to be able to pull reports about the materials disposed of for each rental.

A mobile-friendly customer portal that’s easy to use and useful, too.

The new client portal is a central location for customers to request, view, and report on the rentals. On the front-end, clients get a user-friendly and responsive website to request, manage, and report on their rentals. The portal lets registered clients request service and pulls in rentals created traditionally after a phone, text or email request, and gives a complete view of all jobs, past and present.

The portal includes functionality for:

  • User management and roles
  • Request forms
  • Notifications
  • Customizable reports
  • Data exports

Instead of a phone call, text, or email — requests, data, and reports are just a click away.

In the first year of use, the portal fielded 100s of requests that would typically have required a human interaction. Not only does this give clients the option to request service or look at orders anytime, anywhere — it also frees up internal resources to work on more productive tasks while still maintaining a relationship with their clients.

As adoption picks up among more and more clients, we continue to collaborate to define and implement enhancements, such as:

  • A two-way integration to remove the need for manual source system updates.
  • Advanced reporting capabilities, using more data points and graphic data visualizations.
  • An approval process that allows clients to require that rentals requested by certain employees are reviewed by a supervisor before being submitted.

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