ข้ามไปยังเนื้อหาหลัก

The best customer self-service portals

A customer self-service portal provides customers with the information they need to answer questions or find solutions themselves. Learn how this software can reduce your team's workload and give you a competitive edge by improving issue resolution speed.

A guide to 12 of the best customer self-service portal software

อัปเดตล่าสุด February 12, 2024

Customers like solving their own problems. It’s easier than reaching out to a customer service representative, and it gives them independence. However, implementing a cohesive self-service system into your customer support operations can be a challenge.

We’ll go over some of the biggest issues surrounding customer self-service portals and how you can make the integration process as smooth as possible to create a happier, more satisfied customer base.

Feel free to skip around by clicking through the table of contents below:

What is a customer self-service portal?

Customer self-service is a tool that lets customers search for answers to their questions without having to reach out to an agent. A customer self-service portal allows users to find solutions through a knowledge base, chatbot, or automated task management platform. It organizes information in a way that makes searching for and interpreting answers easy.

Self-service software isn’t a complete replacement for customer service. However, it is a valuable time-saving supplement that customers and service reps alike can appreciate, especially when it’s neatly laid out and easy to navigate.

Why should you use a self-service customer portal?

Your customers are your most valuable asset. Keeping them happy and satisfied with your product or service is key to maintaining a loyal customer base. Self-service portals give your customers the ability to solve problems on their own. As a result, they’ll be less likely to complain about your product or service to friends or on social media. It also shows your level of commitment to customer satisfaction.

The truth is, you don’t need to have a customer self-service portal. But when you do, it displays a level of respect for your customers and could be the deciding factor that nudges them to choose you over the competition.

Customer self-service portal comparison chart

SoftwareStarting priceFree trialKey features

Zendesk

$55 per agent/month

14 days

  • Knowledge base and community forums

  • AI-powered bots

  • Intelligent knowledge management

  • Robust search engine

  • Customization for different audiences, regions, or brands

Zoho Desk

$20 per user/month

15 days

  • Knowledge base and community forums

  • AI-powered bots

  • Intelligent knowledge management

  • Robust search engine

  • Customization for different audiences, regions, or brands

HubSpot Service Hub

$0

No

  • Knowledge base

  • AI-powered bots

  • Intelligent knowledge management

  • Robust search engine

  • Customization for different audiences, regions, or brands

Intercom

$74 per month

14 days

  • Knowledge base

  • AI-powered bots

  • Intelligent knowledge management

  • Robust search engine

  • Customization for different audiences, regions, or brands

Salesforce Service Cloud

$25 per user/month

30 days

  • Knowledge base

  • AI-powered bots

  • Intelligent knowledge management

  • Robust search engine

  • Customization for different audiences, regions, or brands

LiveAgent

$0

7 or 30 days

  • Knowledge base

  • AI-powered bots

  • Intelligent knowledge management

  • Robust search engine

  • Customization for different audiences, regions, or brands

Gladly

$150 per user/month

No

  • Knowledge base

  • AI-powered bots

  • Intelligent knowledge management

  • Robust search engine

  • Customization for different audiences, regions, or brands

Freshservice

$29 per agent/month

21 days

  • Knowledge base

  • AI-powered bots

  • Intelligent knowledge management

  • Robust search engine

  • Customization for different audiences, regions, or brands

Document360

$0

No

  • Knowledge base

  • AI-powered bots

  • Intelligent knowledge management

  • Robust search engine

  • Customization for different audiences, regions, or brands

Help Scout

$25 per user/month

15 days

  • Knowledge base

  • AI-powered bots

  • Intelligent knowledge management

  • Robust search engine

  • Customization for different audiences, regions, or brands

Gorgias

$10 per month

7 days

  • Knowledge base

  • AI-powered bots

  • Intelligent knowledge management

  • Robust search engine

  • Customization for different audiences, regions, or brands

Whatfix

Contact sales

No

  • Knowledge base

  • AI-powered bots

  • Intelligent knowledge management

  • Robust search engine

  • Customization for different audiences, regions, or brands

The 12 best customer self-service portals


1. Zendesk

A screenshot of the Zendesk customer self-service portal.

Zendesk is the ultimate tool for customer self-service. With AI-powered chatbots, fast-response messaging, and a fully integrated help center, Zendesk allows you to meet customers where they are and empowers them to find what they’re looking for.

You’ll also see vastly improved efficiency—your agents can link out to articles from the help center without needing to leave the conversation. If an article hasn’t been created for an issue they see a lot, they can flag it and make a request right from the ticket. Use team publishing to manage your knowledge base and keep team members aligned on progress.

Zendesk has customizable self-service software that lets you create easy-to-use portals for your customer base that match the look and feel of your brand. It also hosts powerful analytics tools to give you the best possible data to consistently refine your customer self-service tools.

Features:

  • Smart knowledge base and help center

  • AI-powered bots

  • Community forums

  • Intelligent knowledge management

    • AI-powered article recommendations AI-powered Content Cues

    • Team publishing

    • Content blocks

  • Robust search engine (unified, federated, semantic search)

  • Customization for different audiences, regions, or brands

  • In-context self-service (web widget/mobile SDKs)

  • Analytics and reporting

  • Industry-leading ticketing system

  • Data and file storage

Pricing:

  • Suite Team: $55 per agent/month

  • Suite Growth: $89 per agent/month

  • Suite Professional: $115 per agent/month

  • Suite Enterprise: Talk to Sales

Free trial: 14 days

2. Zoho Desk

A screenshot of the Zoho Desk customer self-service portal.
Image source

Zoho Desk is a cloud-based customer self-service platform featuring a knowledge base and contextual AI. Zoho’s omnichannel function allows users to converse across multiple channels, including email, phone, social media, and websites.

It also provides workflow automations for managing cross-functional processes, letting users visually assemble sequences with its drag-and-drop blueprint builder. You can customize its help center to match your brand and embed it in your app so customers can easily access all resources.

Features:

  • Knowledge base

  • AI-powered bots

  • Intelligent knowledge management

  • Robust search engine

  • Customization for different audiences, regions, or brands

Pricing:

  • Standard: $20 per user/month

  • Professional: $35 per user/month

  • Enterprise: $50 per user/month

Free trial: 15 days

3. HubSpot Service Hub

A screenshot of the HubSpot Service Hub customer self-service portal.
Image source

HubSpot Service Hub offers flexible support features like website live chat, help desks, and ticketing. The knowledge base can store answers to your customers’ most common questions, plus organize and tag them for optimized searching.

Along with its customer self-service features, HubSpot Service Hub claims to improve collaboration within your organization through one-on-one video messaging tools and team management features. HubSpot also lets you create custom surveys so you can request customer feedback on current service standards.

Features:

  • Knowledge base

  • AI-powered bots

  • Intelligent knowledge management

  • Robust search engine

  • Customization for different audiences, regions, or brands

Pricing:

  • Free: $0 per month

  • Starter: $20 per month

  • Professional: $890 per month

  • Enterprise: $3,600 per month

Free trial: N/A

Learn more about Zendesk for HubSpot.

4. Intercom

A screenshot of the Intercom customer self-service portal.
Image source

Intercom is a conversational relationship platform (CRP) that provides customer support through bots, personalized messaging, and chats. Intercom’s platform includes a conversational marketing feature, which incorporates customizable online chatbots that encourage website visitors to engage in real-time conversations.

Intercom also offers “product tours,” which walk customers through sign-ups. It also has onboarding features like one-off messages and integrated campaigns, complete with in-product messaging and customizable banners for the top of your app or website.

Features:

  • Knowledge base

  • AI-powered bots

  • Intelligent knowledge management

  • Robust search engine

  • Customization for different audiences, regions, or brands

Pricing:

  • Starter: $74 per month

  • Support: Contact sales

  • Engage: Contact sales

  • Convert: Contact sales

Free trial: 14 days

Learn more about Zendesk for Intercom.

5. Salesforce Service Cloud

A screenshot of the Salesforce Service Cloud customer self-service portal.
Image source

Salesforce’s self-service platform allows customers to solve problems using messaging, community data sharing, and network monitoring. With multiple digital channel integrations, Salesforce empowers users to seek answers via mobile messaging, web chat, and social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Salesforce’s AI service, Einstein, is built into Service Cloud, enabling users to guide customers through multistep actions, check their status claims, and change orders. Salesforce also offers remote assistance options that let customers book phone and video appointments through the customer portal, reducing the need for in-person visits.

Features:

  • Knowledge base

  • AI-powered bots

  • Intelligent knowledge management

  • Robust search engine

  • Customization for different audiences, regions, or brands

Pricing:

  • Essentials: $25 per user/month

  • Professional: $75 per user/month

  • Enterprise: $150 per user/month

  • Unlimited: $300 per user/month

Free trial: 30 days

Learn more about Zendesk for Salesforce.

6. LiveAgent

A screenshot of the LiveAgent customer self-service portal.
Image source

LiveAgent provides real-time chat options, a customer self-service portal, and a built-in call center. With 130+ ticketing features and 200+ integrations—including Gmail, Shopify, and Squarespace—LiveAgent promises an all-in-one help desk solution for small to enterprise-level businesses.

LiveAgent’s chat widget carefully watches website visitors and determines the best time to initiate a conversation and see if a customer needs help. The customer portal allows customers to view the progress on their open tickets, removing needless follow-ups. Meanwhile, the community forum provides a space for customers to share information and help each other work through issues so they can avoid opening a support ticket.

Features:

  • Knowledge base

  • AI-powered bots

  • Intelligent knowledge management

  • Robust search engine

  • Customization for different audiences, regions, or brands

Pricing:

  • Free business account

  • Small: $12 per agent/month

  • Medium: $35 per agent/month

  • Large: $59 per agent/month

  • Enterprise: $85 per agent/month

Free trial: 7 or 30 days

7. Gladly

A screenshot of the Zendesk customer self-service portal.
Image source

Gladly is a personal customer service platform for SMBs and large B2C companies offering computer telephony integration and customer complaint tracking. Gladly’s platform allows for customer conversations across several channels, including text, in-app chats, IVR, and social media.

Gladly’s chat widget provides automated responses to customer inquiries, giving fast answers regarding order statuses. The knowledge base can be customized to provide answers in multiple languages based on the customer’s location. Additionally, Gladly offers a collaborative task management feature to let team members set reminders, create and assign tasks, and get updates on the progress of open tickets.

Features:

  • Knowledge base

  • AI-powered bots

  • Intelligent knowledge management

  • Robust search engine

  • Customization for different audiences, regions, or brands

Pricing:

  • Hero: $150 per agent/month, 10 person minimum

  • Super Hero: $180 per agent/month

Free trial: Not available

8. Freshservice

A screenshot of the Freshservice customer self-service portal.
Image source

Freshservice is a cloud-based IT help desk platform used by educational institutions, financial organizations, and government organizations. Freshservice’s artificial intelligence feature, Freddy AI, powers chatbots so they can answer specific questions, take action, and update customer data. This aids agents in reducing their workload and lowers handling time with intelligent classification and prioritization.

Additionally, FAQ pages can integrate with the search bar so they pop up when users type their query, making it easier and faster for them to find information. The content can be shared in languages that match user preferences.

Features:

  • Knowledge base

  • AI-powered bots

  • Intelligent knowledge management

  • Robust search engine

  • Customization for different audiences, regions, or brands

Pricing:

  • Starter: $29 per agent/month

  • Growth: $59 per user/month

  • Pro: $115 per agent/month

  • Enterprise: $145 per agent/month

Free trial: 21 days

9. Document360

A screenshot of the Document360 customer self-service portal.
Image source

Specifically designed for growing companies, Document360 specializes in knowledge base building. Its knowledge base portal offers a state-of-the-art editor and category manager for producing self-help content. It also provides customers and employees with a simpler knowledge base site, with an optimized search engine that allows for reading on any device.

Document360 also provides tools for building FAQ pages, online user guides, and employee handbooks. Users can view different versions of articles and roll back changes, if necessary, removing the danger of overwriting content.

Features:

  • Knowledge base

  • AI-powered bots

  • Intelligent knowledge management

  • Robust search engine

  • Customization for different audiences, regions, or brands

Pricing:

  • Free: $0 per project/month

  • Startup: $99 per project/month

  • Business: $249 per project/month

  • Enterprise: $499 per project/month

Free trial: N/A

Learn more about Zendesk for Document360.

10. Help Scout

A screenshot of the Help Scout customer self-service portal.
Image source

Help Scout is a customer support platform with two key self-service software tools. The first tool, Docs, helps businesses easily build a knowledge base that users can reference to find quick answers. Businesses can customize the platform to reflect their unique brand and organize content to best benefit the viewer.

Beacon, the second tool, is a helpful widget embedded on the knowledge base articles. It’s customized to provide answers to frequently asked questions related to the article and reduce help requests. Beacon also tracks user activity on web pages and articles to reveal trends on which pages are linked or can be approved.

Features:

  • Knowledge base

  • AI-powered bots

  • Intelligent knowledge management

  • Robust search engine

  • Customization for different audiences, regions, or brands

Pricing:

  • Standard: $25 per user/month

  • Plus: $50 per user/month

  • Pro: $65 per user/month, only billed annually

Free trial: 15 days

11. Gorgias

A screenshot of the Gorgias customer self-service portal.
Image source

Gorgias is a help desk platform that specializes in ecommerce. Its self-service software portal focuses on automation to resolve customer issues quickly. Merchants can provide automated answers to common questions like where orders are or how to make returns.

The service integrates with other platforms, like Shopify and Magento, to pull order information for personalized interactions. Pre-made responses can incorporate this information to account for specific account variables.

Features:

  • Knowledge base

  • AI-powered bots

  • Intelligent knowledge management

  • Robust search engine

  • Customization for different audiences, regions, or brands

Pricing:

  • Starter: $10 per month (50 tickets)

  • Basic: $50 per month (300 tickets)

  • Pro: $300 per month (2,000 tickets)

  • Advanced: $750 per month (5,000 tickets)

  • Enterprise: Custom prices and ticket volume

Free trial: 7 days

12. Whatfix

A screenshot of the Whatfix customer self-service portal.
Image source

Whatfix is a digital adoption platform that integrates with existing applications to help users learn. Its self-service portal uses in-app walkthroughs, smart tips, and help menus to guide users. The editor requires no coding knowledge to create these guidance features.

Whatfix has embeddable self-help wikis that users can use to easily search for content, including videos, slideshows, and PDFs. It also lets businesses collect analytics regarding user behavior to identify which features customers use the most.

Features:

  • Knowledge base

  • AI-powered bots

  • Intelligent knowledge management

  • Robust search engine

  • Customization for different audiences, regions, or brands

Pricing:

  • Contact Whatfix for custom quotes

Free trial: Not Available

Features of customer self-service software

To help your customers get the best possible answers to their questions on your customer self-service page, include a knowledge base and community forum, AI-powered bots, knowledge management, a search engine, and customization.

Knowledge base and community forum

A knowledge base is a library of resources within your customer self-service portal that covers the full range of your product’s abilities and components. Your knowledge base should include a searchable collection of FAQs, tutorials, how-to articles, and other resources your customers can reference—like a community forum.

Community forums allow customers to connect and answer each other’s questions. Customers understand each other’s needs better than anyone, and a community forum is a fantastic way to let them provide peer-to-peer support by sharing their experiences and tips.

AI-powered bots

Chatbots are computer programs that simulate a personal conversation without involving a customer service rep. Sometimes customers can’t find answers, but they also don’t have time to wait for a representative to follow up in a live chat.

Chatbots can fill that role by leading customers to the correct knowledge base articles with pre-programmed prompts. In addition, chatbots can triage customer requests and direct help tickets to customer service representatives for additional support.

Intelligent knowledge management

Knowledge management is how a company collects and organizes information with its partners and employees. A self-service help desk should contribute to your support team’s knowledge management.

AI-powered tools, like article recommendations and content cues, proactively set customers up to find necessary information before they’re even searching for it. Team publishing helps internal members collaborate effectively to produce cohesive content.

Robust search engine

The search bar should be clearly displayed because it'll be the most-used tool for finding answers. From the search bar, your customers can sift through your entire library of resources until they find the solution to their problem.

The search engine should unify content under an organized, federated system and not create information silos that inhibit search intent.

Customization for different audiences, regions, or brands

Cookie-cutter self-service portals won’t deliver the same return on investment as those that can be customized to the businesses using them. If you operate in different markets, adjusting the portal appropriately can greatly improve the user experience. These can be larger changes, such as translating content into different languages. Or it can relate to important details, like removing product information you don't offer in that region.

Benefits of self-service portals

Customer self-service platforms are simple tools with big benefits. You often see them included as features of CRMs and help desk software. With the right customization and interface, you’ll start noticing the benefits of empowering your customers.

Increase customer satisfaction

Customers tend to become frustrated when they get confused using a product they’ve purchased, and sometimes those frustrations end up in negative reviews that prospective customers can see.

Having customer self-service options is a good way to reduce many of those frustrations. It gives customers a simple way to solve their problems before the issue spirals into “I-must-write-a-negative-review” territory.

If customers can solve their problems quickly and with minimal effort, your customers won’t have time to let their frustrations fester and grow. If anything, their annoyance will transform into satisfaction when they see how easy you’ve made it for them to solve their own problems.

Improve customer onboarding and product adoption

The complexity of your product or service can be a double-edged sword for customer adoption. Your many offerings are likely part of what drew your customers into a partnership with your business, but that also makes for a steep learning curve. If you don't onboard customers effectively, they can grow discouraged.

Self-service software portals can act as comprehensive roadmaps. Use it effectively, and your customers will have a self-led education session on everything your product can do without needing to be walked through every step by one of your representatives.

Speed up person-to-person interactions

If everyone who experiences an issue with your product has to call in to get it fixed, the wait to reach a representative could be hours long. And with every minute spent on hold, customers become justifiably less satisfied with your company.

Self-service software significantly reduces wait times for people who truly need a person to help them. If a customer can answer a question with a quick search, there’s no reason to make that person wait for hours for a simple two-minute conversation. Effective self-service portals minimize wait times for those who do need to talk to a human and boost your company’s ability to provide fast, responsive customer care.

Boost agent productivity and reduce ticket volume

Your customer service representatives already have a lot on their plates. Letting customers solve their own problems reduces your reps’ workload, allowing them to spend more time on the harder-to-solve issues.

Rather than constantly contacting your representatives for updates, customers can check the status of their support tickets on their self-service portal, so they know exactly when you will resolve their issue. This saves your customer service reps from fielding the same questions multiple times, which can drag down their productivity and morale.

Save money and time

With a self-service system, you’ll save time and money while meeting customer expectations. Customers aren’t paying you per interaction, but you’re still paying your customer service reps for their time and talents. A good self-service portal is a smart strategy for building a more satisfied customer base and a more time-efficient customer care team.

What are some examples of customer self-service portals?

Self-service portals take multiple forms to accomplish certain goals. Depending on the nature of your service or product, you’ll want to consider implementing the following:

  1. Knowledge base: a virtual library of articles explaining how to use products or services

  2. Community forum: a space for customers to discuss their experiences and work through issues together

  3. Chatbots and AI: computer programs that simulate a personal conversation without involving a customer service rep

  4. Interactive voice response (IVR): a phone tree that answers customer calls and routes them to the correct department based on responses to a series of questions or prompts

  5. Customer portal: a hub that connects all your self-service features in a unified place so customers can conveniently manage their accounts

  6. FAQ page: a collection of the most common questions customers have at any stage of the customer journey

How to make a self-service portal

There may already be online forums where people discuss your product and swap solutions, but you have no control over those forums. When you have a self-service portal through your company’s help desk software, you gain control over how your customers seek help and what they see. But to make sure people are going to your self-service portal and not some random forum, you’ll need to set a few standards:

  • Keep the search bar front and center

    The search bar is the ultimate tool for finding answers. However, if you choose to configure your customer self-service portal, always keep a search bar in plain sight. As your customers look through your knowledge base and forums, their first question will likely lead to another. Every page of your portal should have a search bar so they don’t have to navigate back to the main page to enter another inquiry.

  • Categorize everything clearly

    Sometimes, your customers already know where their problem stems from. Giving them a categorized list of common issues or components lets them narrow down their scope gradually. This is especially important if you have more than one product or service.

  • Link to related articles

    Other times, your customer may not know what the problem is or what to search for. Linking your articles together lets readers work their way down the rabbit hole, narrowing their focus until they finally arrive at the question they meant to ask in the first place.

  • Provide a way to contact customer support

    Even with all the help you provide, customers may sometimes give up or realize that the answer isn’t there. Providing a way to contact support on every page—with a ticketing system, email address, or phone number—reminds them that someone is still around to help if they need it.

  • Build processes to keep knowledge fresh

    Self-service portals can provide valuable insights into which resources your customers use the most, and you can leverage that information to enhance the user experience.

    Updating content, linking related articles, and creating supplementary content are necessary to improve self-service capabilities. Your team must be aligned on department goals and collaborate to create better experiences. Regularly reevaluating content and portal features is a quality control measure that ensures all information is up-to-date and beneficial to the user.

How to choose the right customer self-service portal

Start by talking to your customer service team. Ask about their work, the most frequent questions they receive, and what tools would make their lives easier. With the answers they give, you’ll have a better understanding of the features you should look for when shopping around for a self-service portal provider. You can also consider asking:

  • Are there already community forums talking about our service/product?

  • What are the most common issues our customers are experiencing?

  • What’s the current wait time on most customer service calls?

  • Would having videos and/or other media help solve customer issues?

Keep in mind that simply having a customer self-service portal won’t fix all customer problems immediately. Finding the sweet spot will take time, but powerful analytics features can help you make data-driven improvements.

Self-service customer portal FAQs

Ready to try a self-service portal for free?

Test drive the powerful Zendesk customer self-service options for free with our 14-day trial. The intuitive interface lets you customize your help center theme and offers multichannel messaging options to encourage your customers to engage with you over their preferred channels.

It won’t take long for your customers to experience the benefits of being able to solve issues independently. At the same time, your agents will appreciate a lighter workload and the added convenience of responding to customer needs from one unified workspace.

Related customer self-service guides

See if Zendesk works best for you