How to Choose and Implement a Self-Service Portal

Is it possible to empower your customers while reducing the burden on your support teams at the same time?

We at Woken Software definitely think so.

A global study conducted by Statista Research found that nearly 90% of customers expect the brands they interact with to have self-service options for all their service needs[1].

Customers are sick and tired of calling help-lines, only to be put on hold.

They want answers now.

A self-service portal allows your customers to help themselves. This means no wait times. No endless call-hold music. Just quick answers.

So how do you select the right self-service portal for your company? How do you make sure it’s properly implemented so you don’t incur unnecessary costs?

Read on if you want to find out.

Choosing The Right Self-Service Portal

The right portal doesn’t just solve your customer’s problems. It understands your company’s unique needs so it’s able to help you in both the short and long term.

There are tons of options in the market right now. But which one is right for you? Here are five of the most important factors you should look at when selecting a self-service portal.

How well does it integrate with your business?

You want your new portal to integrate seamlessly with your existing e-commerce platforms, help desk, and community. All of those are valuable tools for your business. They are the result of all your hard work. You don’t want to throw them away. So you want to choose a portal that is compatible with your systems right from the get-go. The more compatible the portal is, the easier it is for customers to navigate from one tool to another without getting overwhelmed.

How secure is the portal?

Your customers will accidentally and intentionally submit sensitive information to your portal. How will your systems handle this? Will the information get intercepted by hackers sniffing traffic? Or will the information get lost in transit and end up where it shouldn’t?

Look at the security features your portal offers. Your customers want you to keep their personal information away from prying eyes.

How easy is it to use?

Your portal should be accessible to anyone that wants to use it. 

It should be easy to set up, easy to edit, and easy to use. If your company is growing fast, you want it to be editable by just about anyone on your team. Look at the interface the portal offers. It should be intuitive, simple, and make sense even if you’re not a technological genius.

Do you get 24/7 support?

What happens when things go wrong? Will you have quick access to customer service? Or will you have to wait days to just get a response? Many portal vendors leave you waiting forever if you’re not a VIP customer. Is that okay with you? 

Self-service portals are business critical. You can’t afford any downtime on these systems.

So now you know what to look for. But how do you implement your portal after you purchase one?

Implementing Self-Service The Right Way

A 2016 Garner report found that 80% of businesses that didn’t have a proper implementation plan with their portal ended up incurring additional service costs[2]. How can you avoid this mistake?

It’s important to ask the right questions to understand why you need a portal in the first place, then develop a realistic strategy to implement it.

Ask yourself

  • How will this service be rolled out to customers?
  • Will your service be available on phones and other devices?
  • How will you authenticate users?
  • What people will develop the content for your portal?

The Consortium For Service Innovation suggests four main points to consider when executing your self-service plan.

Be precise

Look at the most common problems facing your customers. Most of your customers will encounter the same kinds of problems. Most of your support teams will be addressing the same kind of problems as well. 

Create content that tackles those issues. 

You’ll find that 20% of your self-service content will cater to 80% of the problems. 

Be accessible

All the content on your self-service portal needs to be easy to understand. No jargon. No buzzwords. Your portal could contain the solution to everything your customer needs, but if it’s riddled with complex verbiage, it helps no one. A customer-centric approach is key.

Be findable

Your content needs to be intuitively organized. Use the right keywords and tags to structure your database so that it’s easy to move from one piece of content to another. A customer-centric approach is key. Can your database handle long tail keywords and natural language?

Be navigable

Your interface can make or break the entire experience.

The customer should never encounter dead-ends. They should always have a way to move forward. The entire process should be positive and focus on solutions, not remind customers of their problems. Relevant content should be inter-linked. The connections should make sense and feel intuitive.

Be motivating

Just because you have a self-service tool doesn’t mean people will use it. You must market it well. You must motivate people to use it. Use carefully placed call to actions at different points in the customer touch-point experience to help them see the value of your portal.


A self-service portal is all about the customer. But chosen well and implemented well, it will be a complete joy for your support teams and remove a tremendous burden from them as well.

Today’s customers want fast and effective service. They don’t want to wait. They don’t want to be put on hold. They want their problems solved. So help them help themselves. Empower them. Give them a powerful knowledge base with equally powerful search tools. 

Once you implement your self-service portal, don’t stop there.

Continue to take feedback. Ask your customers to rate your self-service content. Ask them to rate their experience with your portal. Take their feedback and make your services faster, stronger, and more efficient.

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