How a self-service portal works and why companies benefit from it

Self-service has become a common way to deal with everyday issues. Shopping, paying bills, finding the information you need – we do all this through web applications without the help of people and without leaving home. The corporate environment is no exception.

The need for Self Service Portals is growing every year. For example, in the US, 88% of users thinkthat companies and brands should have such a portal. IN research Service Desk Institute to the question “What will most affect your choice of Service Desk or ITSM tool?” 70% of the respondents answered: “Self-service opportunity”.

In this post, we will tell you what a corporate self-service portal is, what is its benefit to business, as well as about the typical problems and errors that arise during the implementation of the portal.

What is Self Service Portal

Self-service portal is a section of a website, web page or application that helps customers independently solve their problems and find the information they need. Independently means without the help of other employees and personnel of the service company. Well, or with minimal participation on their part. For example, in company IT departments, a self-service portal often acts as a first-aid technician.

The corporate self-service portal is used to automate the interaction of company employees with various service departments: IT, HR, lawyers, accounting, and so on. The portal is the place where customers interact with service providers anytime and online.

Portals do not have a strict classification. They can be divided, for example, by the type of users – into internal corporate portals for employees and external for clients. Or by type of service – to portals for one type of service and complex ones, which include a set of services from different departments. It is also possible by the type of platform: website or mobile application.

The main functions of the corporate portal

The functions and capabilities of the corporate portal depend on the services offered by the company and on the needs of the users.

The corporate portal ideally unites all service departments of the company, from HR to IT. From one location, a customer can apply for a vacation, order a new chair, or file an incident if a laptop breaks down.

Self-service portal of our company based on the SimpleOne ESM platform

For the convenience of users, services on the portal are grouped by service departments. For example, in the HR section only relevant applications are submitted: for time off, vacation, business trip or dismissal. In the AXO section, employees can order new equipment, furniture, office supplies, a pass to the business center.

The basic set of portal services includes:

  • detailed catalog of services;
  • technical support functions: filing an application for connecting and disconnecting services, issuing a ticket for an incident, for updating software, adding new options to a service, etc.;
  • wiki section or knowledge base – to independently find a solution to the problem;
  • log of requests and incidents;
  • chat with experts.

The optimal self-service process on the portal is fully automated, from submitting an application to its approval. That is, all stages of the application process do not require the user to take physical actions outside the portal – for example, the need to print and sign a vacation application.

Benefits for companies

User friendliness. The self-service portal should help in solving requests of varying complexity. But, as noted at the beginning of the article, users tend to solve their problems on their own, and in this sense, the portal is a familiar service for most of the audience. The higher the quality of user experience (QoE) and the fuller the functionality of the portal, the more willingly it is used.

Support service availability… The Company Portal is a convenient way to quickly contact support. There is no time or location limitation for the user, and feedback can sometimes be received even faster than by email and phone.

Reducing the burden on full-time employees… Clients who solve their problems on their own, do not call or write to technical support, unload staff specialists. The number of routine tasks for specialists is reduced. This means that resources are freed up to address priority and complex tasks. At the same time, resources in general and the qualifications of individual specialists are used more efficiently.

Saving resources. Automation of a part of routine tasks helps to reduce costs in the work of full-time specialists: the more questions a user solves on his own, the less the workload on specialists. In some service departments – for example, in the HR department – the self-service portal even helps to optimize the staff.

By calculations, solving a problem through a self-service portal is on average 10 times cheaper than solving the same problem using the first line of technical support.

Why is your portal not being used?

Many users still prefer the traditional means of communicating with helpdesk or other service departments — email and telephone — although the self-service portal has been around for a long time. This is often due to the fact that people were simply not explained what the use of the portal is and why it is more convenient than traditional methods of access.
Perhaps the problem is in the portal itself: for example, the service catalog is not well developed, the interface is inconvenient, or it is simply slow.

In both cases, the first step is to identify the root cause of the problem. To do this, you can organize regular user polls and analyze their behavior on the portal.

Common problems with self-service portals

  • Poor knowledge base.
  • There is a lack of effort and investment in organizational changes that are required after the portal is implemented, such as employee training.
  • Outdated IT infrastructure (backend), which negatively affects performance and generally hinders the development of the service.
  • The portal does not improve: the service catalog is not updated, the UX / UI is not improved, the wishes of users are not taken into account, etc.

Make the portal a working tool

Gartner provides guidelines for developing a self-service portal in IT companies, but they will be useful to any service company or department.

  • Find out the economic expectations of management from the implementation of a self-service portal. (We add: and focus on these expectations as one of the key goals.)
  • Determine in which areas self-service can bring the most benefit.
  • Leverage traditional service experiences to develop a self-service strategy.
  • Explain to clients and employees what the advantages of the portal are for them; motivate to use the portal more actively.

For customers to start (and continue) using a self-service portal, it must meet several criteria for convenience. Let’s highlight five main ones:

  • Simple and intuitive interface… When a customer is faced with a complex or confusing self-service portal interface, they have a natural desire not to use it anymore. The level of UI / UX development of the portal should be as high as that of any other quality service.
  • Mobility. The client should be equally comfortable using the full and mobile versions of the portal. It is often necessary to send a request and receive information on the portal when there is no computer nearby.
  • Feedback. Taking into account customer reviews, advice and wishes is one of the most effective ways to optimize the portal. It is important that the feedback is convenient for both parties.
  • Tracking metrics. To better understand how customers use the service, how you can improve its convenience and quality of work, you should analyze the actions of users on the portal, including their experience of interacting with the interface.
  • Fast response. According to SuperOffice, the most important quality of service metric is fast response times. The same is true for a self-service portal: customers who receive the information or help they need without delay are more loyal.


Digital transformation is gaining momentum. More and more business-critical interactions take place on the Web, including through the corporate self-service portal. A portal is a means by which users can access relevant information and communicate with a service provider online.

The portal allows you to automate routine tasks and, as a result, to optimize the work of employees, to increase customer satisfaction. By automating the first line of support, the company frees people from mechanical work who are more efficient on complex tasks and less efficient on simple ones, where the computer does better.

The portal has become a necessity, statistics also speaks about it. According to the Finnish company HappySignals, the self-service portal is the most popular channel for contacting technical support in 2020 (31%). By this indicator, it is ahead of phone calls (29%) and e-mail (23%). The calculations are based on a survey of more than 800 thousand respondents from 130 countries. Self-service, as the study shows, also contributes to an increase in the level of overall satisfaction with the quality of technical support work: from February to May, this indicator increased from 66 to 73.

Our guides and guides on the topic – in the corporate blog “IT Guild”:

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