Self-Service Portals: Definition, Benefits, and Importance for Companies

These days, as businesses increase their presence online, they adopt more digital technologies that benefit their operations. Self-service portals (SSPs) are one of the most demanded types of such technologies. They are usually implemented as web or mobile applications, depending on the preference of the target audience, available resources, and company policy. 

What are workplace services and self-service portals

A self-service portal is a website or, more often, a web or mobile application designed to provide several helpful functions to its users. One characteristic feature of such portals is that users use the functionality of a portal to solve their problems by themselves using built-in features and guides. Depending on the target audience, there are three common kinds of self-service portals.

1. Self-service portal for employees. 

This type of portal is part of a closed digital infrastructure of a company that cannot be reached from the external network. In general, an employee self-service portal has advanced security measures to keep away unwanted visitors. For example, it may allow access only from a specific range of IP addresses or using an account registered with a company-owned email address. If such a portal is built as an employee self-service app, it may utilize the hardware properties of smartphones as additional security measures.

Such portals provide access to digital workplace services, necessary contacts, and other work-related information in one place. A self-service portal for employees (sometimes shortened to an ESS portal), is designed to make communication and cooperation among workers more efficient and secure. It also offers several other benefits, which will be detailed later in this article.

2. Self-service portal for customers. 

Similar to a portal for employees, a self-service portal for customers also contains contacts and a knowledge base presented with convenient search features to cover the needs of current and potential clients. This way, customers and prospects can solve many related problems by themselves. For example, they may find an address to the nearest service center, download software or firmware updates, register their product online, and more. Customer self-service portals (CSSPs) are so popular they have become a basic necessity for most companies. A survey shows that 67% of customers prefer self-service over speaking to a support agent.

self service portals statistics

Source: Zendesk

3. General self-service portal. 

This type hosts a knowledge base usable by anyone on the Internet. For example, it can be a technical support website that has advanced search capabilities and contains lists of product models and all hardware components, as well as manuals and software updates. As a result, this knowledge base and file repository can be used by companies’ staff, customers, partner stores, service centers, and other affiliates. The Asus Download Center which covers many needs of employees, partners, and customers of the company is such a self-service example

Key features and functionalities of self-service portals

The features and functionalities of a self-service portal depend on three factors:

  • Type and target audience of a portal: employees, customers, general audience.
  • Type and scale of a company.
  • Portal’s form of implementation: desktop, mobile, or cross-platform application.

For example, a self-service portal of a large manufacturer will have significantly more features than a portal of a small retailer. Portals for employees and customers will cover different aspects and contain different types of information.

Regardless of the factors mentioned above, several features are considered universal and should be implemented in any self-service portal. Here is the list of such standard features.

  1. An ability to create a user account with various levels of personalization. Employees are required to provide such data as their full name, information about their department and role, date of birth, phone number and email address for work contacts, and so forth. This information is for office use only and must be protected. Meanwhile, customers may opt out of giving any personal information, excluding an email address that is required for signing in.
  2. A knowledge base with topical articles and guidelines. The written materials are created and updated by copywriters and engineers to cover the most popular topics and provide algorithms to solve various problems. This information should be served in a way that is easy to understand and implement in practice. In this regard, a section that covers frequently asked questions is among the most demanded self-service portal requirements
  3. Advanced search capabilities. An extensive collection of data is useless or at least ineffective without a convenient search option. Portal users should have the possibility to find the required information using keywords, menus, and other filters and allow them to input search parameters and narrow down the results.

All these individual features are the characteristics of a good portal. However, to create the best self-service portal for a specific company, the combination of features must be adjusted according to that company’s needs and ensure high performance and usability.

Top 5 self-service portal benefits

  1. Optimized workflow. Self-service portals contain a lot of helpful information and present it in an organized and structured form. In general, such portals host a knowledge base that helps users to solve specific problems. This greatly reduces the time to find a solution since there is no new to surf across the Internet. 
  2. Personalized approach. Self-service portals also may offer a personalized experience to employees and customers. When new users sign in and provide initial information about themselves, portals may determine potential problems and issues they may encounter. As a result, portals may immediately offer potentially useful information and guidelines for every type of user even before they face any problem. 
  3. Improved user experience. In addition to the personalized approach, self-service portals allow users to solve their problems without asking for help from companies representatives. This is especially preferable option for users that do not like socializing. Providing users with the ability to overcome challenges gives them a feeling of achievement, independence, and learning. Thus, it is likely to lead to a positive user experience. 
  4. Reduced costs. By offering users an opportunity to solve their problems independently, a company can reduce costs on customer support provided by its staff in offices or service centers. This way, a company can redirect saved funding to other vital areas that promote its growth.
  5. User education. Users can learn new information and skills from self-service portals thanks to knowledge bases, and search guides that describe sequences of actions to solve various proble5s. This fact is true for both employees and customers. On the one hand, staff can learn how to create and submit reports or requests to various company departments, process complaints and warranty-related tickets from clients, and much more. On the other hand, customers can learn how to update and maintain their purchased product, how they should register a product, or submit a ticket presenting a warranty issue.

Self-service portal benefits

The importance of self-service portals for companies

Like many other digital solutions widely adopted by companies, self-service portals have a number of advantages for business owners.

  1. They promote efficiency. A well-structured collection of useful information in self-service portals reduces the time required to find answers and solve problems. As a result, users do not need to perform tedious searching, which can be stressful and frustrating. 
  2. They save money. Though self-service portals need funding and time to create and maintain, the initial investment pays off eventually. Portals reduce the need for customer support managers and, in some cases, even service centers. Additionally, such portals are regularly updated to cover new questions, issues, and solutions so that they can remain beneficial for users and the company for a long time. 
  3. They engage users in fruitful activity. By using self-service portals, users not only solve their problems but also learn new information. It labels a portal as the source of reliable and valuable knowledge, so employees and customers will be eager to return to it when necessary. 
  4. They promote the company. A convenient and helpful self-service portal brings positive feedback from its users. In the case of an ESS portal, employees can mention a positive experience of using it as a part of their overall satisfaction with the workplace environment. For example, this may be beneficial when they leave a review or feedback about a company on Clutch or Goodfirms. In the case of a self-service portal for customers, users’ satisfaction can increase trust and loyalty to the company and its production.
  5. They help to identify current issues. Portals also gather data related to user issues and analyze the types of problems that occur regularly. This information may be used to adjust the operation flow, change some working processes, and make other improvements to overcome existing organizational challenges. Additionally, a company may use information about customer issues with products to design new ones that are free of existing flaws. 

Best practices, challenges, and solutions in implementing self-service portals

Just like many other software solutions, designing self-service portals focuses on providing a flawless user experience and comprehensive functionality. Visual aesthetics has a lower priority than the system's convenience and performance. So, the task of a portal developer is to ensure that it works fast and offers equally good functionality on web and mobile platforms. 

Since self-service portals process confidential data contained in user accounts, the system requires advanced data protection measures. In the case of an ESS portal, the security requirements are much higher and should include multi-factor authentication. 

Maintaining the knowledge database in an up-to-date state is another challenge. For this purpose, self-service portals usually have an assigned staff of writers and engineers who join efforts to create and update articles, FAQ sections, contacts, and other relevant data.

One more essential task when creating a good self-service portal is to ensure it is easy to navigate. An intuitive navigation should complement an effective search function so that users can easily find necessary information.


Considering the high demand for self-service portals and their numerous advantages, it is natural that they have become one of the fundamental requirements of any business. With the help of experienced software developers, businesses can build efficient portals for employees or customers offering a range of essential benefits.

Specialists at Intellectsoft understand the importance and high requirements of creating self-service portals for companies. That’s why we offer a tailor-made approach to build a custom-made solution designed specifically for your company’s needs. Our engineers will design and implement the required set of features, ensuring high performance and convenience of the final product. Contact us and describe what kind of self-service portal you need.

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