Salesforce Portals vs. Communities

In 2024, Salesforce is still at the forefront of improving customer relations management – in many ways thanks to its powerful portals and communities functionality. A lot of organizations use online portals or communities to interact with their customers, partners, and other stakeholders. Since many prefer to solve issues and do things on their own, without interacting with company representatives, over 67% of all communication is reportedly done through portals instead of phone calls or emails, according to a study by Nuance. 

Providing stakeholders with a powerful information resource and a choice on how to communicate with the business can be revolutionary for your client relationships, bringing you numerous benefits, from saving up on customer care to boosting customer loyalty, and more.

In this article, we aim to cover what these two solutions are and how they are different from each other, as well as their features and types, to help you understand which is a better choice for your Salesforce organization. 

What Is a Portal in Salesforce? 

A Salesforce Portal, also referred to as a Customer Portal or Partner Portal, is a web-based platform that extends the capabilities of Salesforce CRM to external users beyond the organization’s internal teams. Its primary purpose is to facilitate seamless interactions between the organization and its non-members – customers, partners, vendors, suppliers, distributors, or other stakeholders. 

Portals in Salesforce come in three types: self-service, customer, and partner portals.

Self-Service Portal 

These Salesforce portals aid in directing users to the frequently asked sections page, blog posts, videos that present important information, and more, depending on their request. This generally reduces communication between customer support and users, allowing support teams to work with greater productivity. At the same time, users don’t have to depend on customer care specialists’ time zone availability and pick hours to get an answer fast. 

Customer Portal

Similar to Self-Service Portals, Customer Portals present customers with an online channel to be able to interact with customer support and solve ongoing issues. Just like Self-Service portals, they are continuously helping companies provide around-the-clock support to their users, regardless of where they are in the world, or what time zone they are in. Customer Portals provide users with access to Salesforce functionality and critical CRM data.

Partner Portal 

Salesforce Partner Portal allows your organization to provide limited access to certain CRM objects and functionality to your sales and channel partners.

READ ALSO: The Complete Salesforce Implementation Guide

Salesforce Customer Portal Features

Here are some of the main features that the Salesforce Customer Portal has to offer: 

Integration With CRM

Salesforce Customer Portal is often used to help customers with their problems, and relevant CRM data is vital for that purpose. Luckily, the Customer Portal integrates itself with your CRM very easily, which helps to get a comprehensive picture of a customer’s demands, preferences, and level of engagement with the business. In turn, this information raises the standard of your customer support service.

Access To Salesforce Ideas

Salesforce Ideas is an interactive platform where Salesforce users and clients are able to exchange insightful information on any Salesforce-related topic. Customers can join this community through the customer portal and share creative ideas to enhance the platform’s functionality and how client problems are handled. It is highly possible that a suggestion made by a client to address a particular problem will assist other users and clients in better management of their own cases.

Self-Service Function

Salesforce Customer Portal also includes Salesforce Knowledge, Solutions, and Answers for self-service and seamless case management. It also makes it possible to quickly resolve a client’s problematic situation by allocating them to agents with appropriate expertise.

Customer Profile Generation

Salesforce Customer Portal enables you to create profiles that provide customized layouts, list views, and trustworthy field-level security. Additionally, it offers access to unique Salesforce objects to display and gather relevant data for unique applications.

Reporting And Analytics

Salesforce users can access numerous detailed, customizable reports through the software’s interface. This helps them keep track of their activities, understand the nature of their problems, and evaluate the quality of the solutions offered.

What are Salesforce Communities? 

Similarly to Portals, a Salesforce Community is a collaborative online platform that allows organizations to connect and engage with their customers, partners, employees, and other stakeholders in a secure environment. It serves as a centralized hub where users can access information, resources, and tools relevant to their roles, collaborate with others, and participate in discussions and activities. 

There are several types of communities in Salesforce, but they differ in functionality and pricing.

Types of Communities in Salesforce

Since Salesforce Communities is designed to improve the connection between a business and its customers, employees, and partners, you can create the three respective types of communities:


  1. Customer Community: This community type is there to enable your customers to collaborate, share knowledge, and offer self-service support. With the community’s help, customers get an opportunity to access knowledge bases and other relevant resources, engage in conversations with each other, and submit cases.
  2. Employee Community: This community type is intended for promoting internal communication, information exchange, and collaboration among employees. Staff can access company resources, guidelines, training materials, and collaborate with coworkers from other departments or locations through their common portal.
  3. Partner Community: This community type is developed to enhance cooperation and simplify communication between the company and its partners. In this community, partners get access to sales and marketing materials, training materials, and support documentation. On top of that, partners can share important information with the community and organize team team efforts while working on prospects.

Salesforce Customer Portal vs. Communities: The Differences 

Here is a breakdown of how Salesforce Customer Portal and Communities are different:

Salesforce Customer Portal vs. Communities The Differences

Choosing Between Salesforce Portals and Communities

Despite the fact that Community Cloud was rolled out in 2013, not all users have made the switch, and Portals are still widely used. There might be several reasons for that: pricing considerations, and reluctance to burden stakeholders with the switch to a new interface and functionality. 


Other than that the main differences can be summed up as follows:


  • Interface Customization: Portals – limited, Communities – extensive;
  • Communication: Portals – transactional interactions, Communities – collaborations;
  • Content Management: Portals – basic, Communities – advanced;
  • Pricing and Licensing: Portals – often need additional licensing, Communities – are typically included in Salesforce licenses;
  • Mobility: Portals – limited, Communities – fully mobile-responsive;
  • Integration and Data Sharing: Portals – limited, Communities – advanced; 
  • Customization and Branding: Portals – limited, Communities – advanced.


Whether you are a long-time Portals-using organization considering switching to Communities or just need help setting up Salesforce Community Cloud, OMI will be happy to help. As a certified Salesforce managed service provider, we have the necessary expertise to help you make the most of your Community Cloud investment. 


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