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Idea portals are online portals created to allow employees and consumers the opportunity to provide ongoing feedback and enjoy some type of rewards for their efforts. A basic idea portal allows users to create login credentials and register at the site housing the portal. Once registered, users are free to make use of special discounts available only to portal members, participate in company-driven forums, and participate when and as they like in surveys conducted by the portal owner. In many cases, the portal offers a secure means of two-way communication between the owner and the portal participants, a measure that makes it easier to ask questions, log concerns, and generally strengthen the ties between provider and consumer.
While the exact configuration of an idea portal will vary, the focus is often on creating a simple way for consumers to tell a given company what they think of the products. This includes comments on product quality, price, and ability. For retail locations, the portal also offers a convenient way to comment on the professionalism of employees at the brick and mortar sites as well as provide feedback on the condition of the stores. If the store offers some sort of private branded gift card or cash card that can be used for purchases, the idea portal will often provide an easy way to check the current balance on the card or refill it from a bank account.
Along with being a means of communicating more directly with consumers, an idea portal will normally offer some incentives to those who choose to register and participate in the program. This may include rewards points that are issued for each purchase credited to the user’s account, access to voucher codes or printable discount coupons for use in stores, or even virtual discounts for online ordering that are only offered to portal members. The offering of incentives helps to increase the potential for customers to register and actively participate in the site. When this happens, the company benefits from the ability to collect and evaluate feedback from those customers, increasing the chances of making improvements that enhance customer loyalty while also allowing the company to attract more consumers.
The typical idea portal can easily be integrated with an existing web site, or structured as a stand-alone offering with its own private branded web site. Most sites of this type are relatively inexpensive to launch and maintain, especially in comparison to other methods used to collect feedback from customers. The real-time nature of the idea portal also means the comments and concerns of customers can be addressed faster, a factor that can often help minimize the possibility of losing a customer while enhancing the chances of identifying an idea that ultimately benefits both the company and its entire customer base.