Build a Handy Self-Service Portal for Your Website with WordPress

Ben Sibley

“Follow the plan outlined here and you can create your own website from scratch without writing any code for less than $300.”

Nearly 90% of US customers expect websites to have self-service portals since they prefer finding answers to their inquiries by themselves.

Almost 70% of shoppers even consider it their first choice over speaking to support representatives.

The numbers are overwhelmingly clear, aren’t they?

Your site visitors l-o-v-e service portals.

Not only does it empower your customers, but it increases their interaction with your site, enhances your productivity, boosts your conversions, and improves your brand image.

The good news is, creating a self-service portal for your WordPress website doesn’t have to be rocket science. I’ve compiled some tips to help you get started:

1. Plan your knowledge base content

When planning and choosing what to put into your knowledge base, start with these:

  • Essential details. Include inquiries about your product, associated services (e.g., payment modes, shipping), and other basic aspects of your business.
  • How to get started. In this section, guide your customers through each step of your product onboarding and setup processes.

Arrange your questions into general subjects and sub-categories, and then proceed to individual topics or questions. Organizing your content enhances your customer’s search experience.

Let’s say you’re running an online fashion boutique, and you want to address fundamental topics related to your apparel business’ inventory management.

In this category, you can talk about which fabrics are used in your clothing, where you procured the materials, how you maintain garments in good condition, what you do with clothes with defects, etc.

When crafting your topics’ titles, use simple, clear phrases or questions people usually search for. Make them sound conversational, but align them with your brand’s tone of voice.

Besides the examples I mentioned previously, start with words such as “using” and “how to.” You can also write the topic itself, e.g., “Checking Your E-Gift Card Balance.”

2. Select your portal structure

Your website’s knowledge base can take several forms, such as the ones I outline below. Select one or a mix of formats that best suit your planned content structure:

FAQs

Frequently answered questions (FAQs) are popular information sources among customers with inquiries in mind about your business.

If you want to use this format, look into your customer support inboxes for queries and issues repeatedly raised and addressed.

Turn them into a question form, such as “Do you restock sold-out items?” You can then choose to display the queries with the answers immediately, hide answers behind drop-down options, or conceal them under your sub-categories the way Forever 21 did:

FAQ Example

Image Source: Forever 21.

The last option usually works when you have several categories, sub-categories, and questions under each one. In this case, clicking “+” reveals the queries first, then the answers.

When designing your FAQs page, mind your user experience and present lists neatly to avoid overwhelming your customers.

Community forum

An internal question-and-answer forum or community of your product users supplements self-help posts you may be missing (e.g., situation-specific, technical topics) and increases traffic and shopper interactions on your site.

This is particularly strategic if you already have or plan to build a membership-type, active commenting system, or other forms of online community on your site.

The best part is, there are several WordPress forum plugins you can install to set up a forum in your WordPress site in minutes.

Narrative posts and visuals

Short to medium-length narratives, aided by visuals, are another common and practical self-service content format.

For your posts, assume your readers are newbies, so simplify your content, avoid jargon (or explain it), and enhance its readability. The tips mentioned in step #1 also apply here.

When helpful or necessary, insert the right visuals (e.g., screenshots, demonstrative photos, video tutorials, graphic designs, etc.) and links to relevant posts and pages on your website.

3. Design and publish your virtual self-service portal

Once you’ve adequately prepared your self-support content, design your user-intuitive portal and its pages.

Ease this process by using attractive yet functional WordPress knowledge base themes or conversion-focused web designs. The platform has a chock-full of templates you can customize to match your branding.

Using these premade layouts removes the heavy lifting of developing your self-service portal and lets you focus on your content.

Additionally, make it easy for customers to find your knowledge base by including it in one of your menus or strategically positioning it on your site. Use relevant words to describe it, such as FAQs, Help, Support, and others.

Besides your knowledge base, help your customers easily find what they’re looking for through a search bar on your website. It’s also one of the basic self-service tools websites often use.

Make your search bar easily noticeable by positioning them strategically on your site. Companies often place them at the top right of any web page.

To add a search bar on your site, use the default WordPress feature for it or install plugins, such as Ivory Search, Relevanssi, ACF: Better Search, and others.

5. Offer complementary support mechanisms

Much like with omnichannel marketing — where you need to unify your platforms for an integrated customer experience — take a similarly well-rounded approach for your shopper assistance. 

Even if they have a helpful self-support page, they’ll likely want to speak with you at some point about other concerns.

Augment your self-service portal with other contact and support mechanisms:

Social media

Let your customers send you a direct message or DM you on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other platforms you’re in.

However, if you have a hundred messages pouring in but can’t respond quickly, use social media chatbots, which can reply instantly, 24/7, accurately, and like humans. 

You can program them to personalize their interactions with your inquiring customers, address FAQs, and link customers to the right info sources or your agents for more complex issues.

Live chat

Allow your site visitors to get in touch with you instantly and directly through live chat. Pup Mom Crate shows us an example:

Live Chat Example

Image Source: Pup Mom Crate.

Pup Mom Crate’s live chat lets customers find answers to an FAQ that may correspond to their query, or throw in their questions themselves (along with their contact details).

WordPress offers several live chat plugins with different layouts and communication arrangements — so pick one that suits your strategies and business operations.

Ticketing system

A helpdesk ticketing system works this way: shoppers create a “ticket” or record of their complaint or request, and the agent receives it and starts communicating from there.

This is practical if you want to organize and centralize all your customer concerns and streamline your visibility and query delegation.

WordPress has excellent ticketing system plugins you can install, such as WP Ticket, SupportCandy, Awesome Support, etc.

Email

Give your customers an option to reach you via email if they’re more comfortable inquiring through this channel.

You can include this on your knowledge base page, saying something like, “Got more questions? Contact us via [your company email address].”

When assisting your shoppers through this channel, apply email personalization strategies. They make your customers feel valued and better at ease since they know they’re talking to a real agent who will attend to their needs.

Build a handy-dandy WordPress self-service portal now

With these practical steps, you’re now geared up to build a robust and convenient self-service portal on your WordPress site.

These practices are great for starting, but make it continually helpful for your customers by ensuring your information is up-to-date and maintaining a neat layout for your portal.

Jimmy Rodela
Jimmy Rodela
Jimmy Rodela is a seasoned freelance writer and content marketer with over 8 years of experience, with work appearing on sites such as Yahoo, Fool.com, Business.com, SEMRush, and SearchEnginePeople. He specializes in digital marketing, small business strategy, marketing automation, and content development.

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