Self-Service Portal

The “front door” to your organization’s online environment, self-service portals enable people to find information, request services, and submit questions. They can boost website traffic and encourage people to spend more time on your website. The two most common types of self-service portals are customer self-service and employee self-service. All self-service portals should help users address common issues efficiently and autonomously. They are a complement to but don’t always replace interaction via one-on-one conversations. This glossary covers the most common terms associated with self-service portals.

Customer Self Service Portal

A customer self-service portal allows organizations to provide online support to their customers without requiring interaction with a live agent. Common customer self service portals include FAQs, knowledge bases, and online discussion forums. They are increasingly the first choice for customers who need an easy and quick way to get the information they need. To meet customer expectations, an online self service portal should contain up-to-date content, have an easy-to-use search field, and be optimized for all devices, especially mobile.

Knowledge Management Portal

Often called an information gateway, a knowledge management portal provides ready access to information, expertise, collaborative content, structured data, and rich media such as video and digital images. The key features of a knowledge management portal include ease of use, personalization or customization, cross-platform accessibility, and collaborative functionality. Knowledge management portals play a key role in self-service by providing a personalized single point of access to all relevant information which enables better, faster decision-making. Services may include e-mail, discussion boards, member registration, and search engines.

Knowledge Sharing

Knowledge sharing can be thought of as collaboration with a purpose. It’s a way for people to find answers and solve problems through the better use of applications and tools. Based on the concept of “stronger together,” encouraging knowledge sharing within an organization helps produce greater business outcomes. Lack of knowledge sharing often leads to decreased productivity, customer loss, and disengaged employees. A knowledge sharing portal ensures people work together to increase efficiency and productivity to drive revenue.


A list of questions and answers relating to an organization’s products and/or services. They’re designed to give basic information in response to common questions and concerns. As part of a self-service portal, FAQs are a useful means of organizing information that people can easily search through. One of the first features people seek when they arrive on a website, effective FAQ pages reduce the time agents spend on common customer questions and can boost sales as people gain basic information to make a decision.

Knowledge Base

Knowledge bases are organization-specific and the cornerstone of self-service portals. They are curated, organized collections of information on a variety of subject areas. The term “knowledge base” is typically used to refer to the information stored in a knowledge management system but can also refer to the software used. Common content in a knowledge base includes FAQs, step-by-step guides, video demonstrations, articles, and glossaries. A knowledge base is the end product of gathering and organizing all organizational knowledge so to deliver valuable and relevant information to readers.

Organizational Knowledge

The sum of all knowledge contained within an organization. It is gained from product knowledge, intellectual property, expertise, failure and success lessons, customer communications, and more. Retaining organizational knowledge in a centralized database helps prevent loss of valuable information and expertise when employees leave or retire. There are three types of knowledge that make up organizational knowledge: explicit, tacit, and implicit. Sources of organizational knowledge include an individual’s documents and/or memory, a group’s common practices, routine structural information, and organizational memory such as guidelines, reports, and records.

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