Setting Up Portals in Zoho CRM

Setting Up Portals in Zoho CRM

Portals in CRM are designed for the administrators to extend CRM access to their contacts, vendors or partners. A portal user can access the modules and some of the associated data such as products, invoices, and notes that are present in CRM. They can also view, edit records, create records, add notes, and add attachments.
Business cases 
Let us consider a few scenarios to understand how portals can be helpful in your business.
  • In a franchise  - Imagine you run a fast food business and have granted others the right to operate the franchise in a few locations. You use Zoho CRM to manage all the business details and to track outlets' performance. The franchise owners can request to view their outlets' performance and their customers' details. You can create exclusive portals for the franchise owners. They will be able to view and edit the relevant records right from the CRM.
  • In the automobile industry  - For example, you have an automobile shop and want to track your customers' details, your sold vehicles and servicing schedules. To do this, you can create a portal and share it with your clients. The customers can view and edit their details in the portal, and they will be updated in your CRM records. Similarly, if they want to get their vehicle serviced, they can fill in their details using the portal.
  • In an educational institute  - If you run a school, instead of manually entering every student's details, you can provide parents with access to the portal's. They can add, update, or view their child's details in the portal and share the students' grades and performance scores with the parents through the portal.
  • For business partners  - You run a software company and use CRM to follow up with your contacts and leads or to track multiple deals that are at different stages. There is a meeting with the partners and you want to discuss all the contacts and the deals that have the highest revenue. Imagine how tedious it would be to share this complex information with individual partners. You can easily manage this situation by creating a portal for the partners, where you give them access to the Contacts module and add a contact lookup in the Deals module in CRM. This will enable them to view the contacts and their associated deals and add or remove details in the modules based on their permissions.

Permission Required 
Users with the Manage Portal Profile permission can create a portal and invite customers.

  1. You can configure up to five portals. The first portal is free and can be created only for the Contacts module.
  2. The additional four portals need to be purchased. These portals can be created for the Leads, Contacts, Vendors, and Custom modules. 
  3. First portal - The first portal user type is added by default. You can invite up to 10,000 users to this portal for free. Please contact if you need to add more users.
  4. Four additional portals - For adding more portal user types, you need to purchase portal user licenses. The pricing model for additional purchases:
    1. 50 users (minimum user count) - $600/month
    2. 51 to 100 users - $12/user/month
    3. 100 users up  - $10/user/month

Actions that a portal user can perform

Create, edit or delete records - They can create, edit or delete records in the CRM module to which they have access. 

Edit associated records - A portal user can edit records that are associated with him, that are added by other CRM users, if they have the required permission. For example, if a deal or account is associated with the portal user then he can edit the details of those records. 

Edit information in a record - They can edit the fields (even the ones present in subforms) on a record that is shared with them, for example address, phone number, email address etc. The changes will reflect in the CRM. 

Clone records associated with the leads/contacts (deals, invoices, quotes, etc.) - They can clone other records that are associated with them and add more details as required. For example, if a portal user wants to replicate a deal, quote or invoice, then instead of creating a new record from scratch they can cone an existing record and make edits wherever necessary. 

Setting up portal

Setting up a portal involves the following four steps:
  1. Creating a portal
  1. Defining portal user type
  1. Configuring portal type
  1. Specifying field permissions

Creating a portal

By default, your company's name will be taken as the portal name and it will be used to generate a URL, that your customers will use to access the portal. However, you can choose to change the portal name while creating the portal. If the portal name is already in use, Zoho CRM will prompt you to change it.

To create a portal
  1. Go to Setup > Channels > Portals.
  2. In the Portals page, click Get Started Now.
    Your company's name will appear as the default portal name.
  3. Edit the Portal name, if required.
  4. Click Configure Now.
    The customer portal URL will be generated and the portal name will be available.
  5. Click Next to continue.
    Next, define the portal user type, portal tab configuration, and field permissions.
  • You will not be able to edit the portal name once it is created.
  • Once a portal is configured you will not be able to delete it.
  • When you create a portal, a default portal called Client Portal will be created that cannot be deleted. You can add up to 10,000 users without payment. To add more users you need to purchase. You can only add clients or customers to this portal, you will not be able to add users from the same domain, i.e., your employees or partners.

Defining Portal user type

User type is a label for the users who will be accessing the CRM modules via portal. Permissions can be defined for the user types that will enable or restrict access to the data in the CRM account. Some examples of portal user types are: vendors, clients, consultants, customers, partners, or resellers.
Please note that the first portal user type must be a customer only. Therefore, you cannot add a user from the same domain like your employees in the first portal user type.

To define a portal user type

  1. Under Portal User Type enter a name e.g., parents, partners or service agents etc.
  2. Click Next.

Configuring the portal tab

In this step, you will choose the modules and the specific layouts that the portal user will be able to access and define permissions to either create, edit, view, or delete records. For example, you run a car company and want your clients to enter some information. You can configure a portal exclusively for these clients and give them access to the Leads module. The clients can enter their details in the portal to be added to their CRM record. Configuring the portal tab includes the following steps:
  1. Choose the module: You can choose to give the customers access to the Leads, Contacts, Vendors or custom modules. The customers will be able to view their own details in the module and based on their permissions, they may be able to add and edit records.
  2. Select the related modules: The modules that have a lead or contact lookup are listed under the related modules. You can choose the list of related modules that you want the customers to be able to access. Here, only the records that are associated with the module (Leads, Contacts, Vendors, or custom modules) through the lookup field can be viewed.
  3. Select the layouts of the related modules: You can choose more than one layout for each related module for the portal users to access.
  4. Define the module record permission: You can set the permission level for each record in a module. For example, you can allow the clients to view or edit their license number or mailing address, or give a vendor read-only permission to purchase orders.
  5. Select list view: If you have created a canvas view for any CRM module, you can choose either List view or Canvas view to display a record. List view will be selected by default for all modules. Note that the custom buttons or custom links will not be displayed for the portal users if they are added to the Canvas view.
  6. Filter By: Select the records that the portal user will view by using the lookup filter. For example, if you have added two lookup fields in the Deals module, you can choose a lookup based on the records that you want the portal user to view. However, the lookup filter will only be available to the existing portal users if they edit the portal configurations.
  7. Select Public Modules: Any module that you have marked as Public read only or Public read/write/delete (through data sharing settings) will be accessible to the portal users. These modules will be listed under the Public Modules category in Portal and the users (portal) will have only View permission for all the records that are present in the module. When a module is selected from the public modules category it will be removed from the related modules list. 

To configure the portal tab

  1. In the Portal Tab Configuration page, select a module from the Choose Module from the drop-down list.
  2. In the Related Modules section, do the following:
    • Tabs - Select the checkboxes for the related modules that the portal users will be able to access.
    • Layouts - Select one or more layouts that the users will have access to.
    • Permissions - Choose create, edit, view, delete or edit (shared) module permissions. Portal users will only be able to perform actions on the records based on their permission. The edit (shared) permission will allow the portal users to edit those records that have been added by CRM users to the module.  
    • List View - Select either List view or Canvas view for the records.
    • Filter By - Select the filters from the drop-down list. 
    • Select the modules from the Public Modules section.

  3. Click Next.

Specifying field permission

The related modules that you selected in the previous step (Portal Tab Configuration) will be listed under the Field Permission section. You can select the fields that you want the portal users to access. You can also mark the fields that you do not want the customer to edit as Read Only. The mandatory fields inside CRM will also be marked as mandatory in the portal. You can also share subforms with the portal users. 

To specify field permissions

  1. In the Field Permissions page, select the check boxes for the fields that need to be available for the portal users.
  2. Click the Read Only checkbox, if required.
  3. Click Save and Next to move to the next layout or module to define field permissions.
  4. Repeat the above steps for all the modules and layouts.
    You can select a subform too.
  5. Click Finish to save all the details.

View portal preview

Once the portal configuration is complete, you can preview the portal to see how the customers will see the records.

To view the portal preview

  1. Go to Setup > Channels > Portals.
  2. In the Customer Portal Configuration page, click Preview.
  3. Select the Portal User Type from the drop-down list to view the preview.
You can view the portal summary after the portal configuration is completed. You can edit the Field Permission and Portal Tab Configuration in the portal configuration details. You can also add a new portal user type, if required.

Purchasing portal users

When you want to create an additional portal user aside from the default client portal, you need to purchase the portal users. You can purchase from the Portal configuration page as well as Manage Subscriptions page.

To purchase portal users from within the portal configuration page
  1. Go to Setup > Channels > Portals.
  2. Click Create User Type.
  3. Enter the number of Portal Users in the Add Portal Users popup.
  4. Click Make Payment.
To purchase portal users from manage subscription page
  1. Click your Profile icon and select Manage Subscription.
  2. Click Upgrade User / Add-Ons in the Subscription page.
  3. Select the number of portal users and click Proceed.
  4. Click Make Payment.

Working with portals

Send portal invitation to users

Once you have created the portal, you can start inviting the customers. The email invitations will contain the portal URL details. Once the users accept the invitation, they will be prompted to set a password. In the portal, the customer must first set basic information like their preferred language, time format, time zone, and country (the CRM settings will be displayed by default). They will then be redirected to the module page that they have been given access to.

To send an invitation

  1. Go to a module (Leads, Contacts, Custom module) and select a record.
  2. In the record detail page, click the More icon and click Send Portal Invitation.

  • You can send an email invitation to the customers from the Record detail page. The send invite option will be available only if the email address is present. 
  • The invitation email will be valid for 7 days only.
  • You can not send bulk invitations to the portal.
  • For example: Russell Brown is a CRM user who invites Sage to access the portal with the permission to create contacts and deals. So, when Sage creates a contact through the portal, it will be added to the CRM database and Russell Brown will be the owner of the new contact.

Viewing information added by the portal users in CRM

Records, notes or values added by a portal user can be viewed in Feeds or right inside the CRM module. 
For example, Russel is a CRM user who invited Sage to access the Contacts module. Sage has the permission to create contacts and deals. When, he creates a new contact in the portal and saves the record Russel can view it inside the Contacts module in his CRM account. 
Note that the record owner will be Russel by default. 

Notifications on every update will be received in Feeds. For example, if a note is added to a record you will get notified via Feeds. You can also reply to the note from the feeds. 

Remember to add the module that you have given access to the portal user in Feed preference, only then you will receive a notification. 
(Type Feeds in the top panel where the module are listed > click Feeds > go to Feeds Preferences and check the Modules > click Save.)

Transfer portal users to another portal user type

There may be occasions when you have to move a user from one portal user type to another. For example, you have created two different portals for customers interested in Product A and Product B. If the customer is no longer interested in buying Product A and wants to buy Product B instead, you can easily move them to the Product B portal user type. You can transfer users from one portal user type to another from any of the following places:

  • Record Detail Page - You can change the portal user type from the record's detail page.
  • Portal Users List - If you want to change multiple portal users to another portal user type at once, you can do so from the Portal Users List popup in the Portal Configuration page.

Convert a lead to contact

In Zoho CRM, you can convert qualified leads to contacts either manually or automatically using the workflow rules. If you have created one portal user type for leads and two types for contacts and added your CRM leads and contacts to the appropriate portals, you will be prompted to choose one of the portal user types under Contacts when you convert the leads to contacts in your CRM. For example, you have four leads A, B, C, and D in the Leads portal user type; and Contacts 1 and Contacts 2 as two portal user types in the Contacts modules. When you convert leads A, B, C, and D into contacts in CRM, you will be prompted to choose the Contacts portal user type (Contacts 1 or Contacts 2) to transfer the leads to.

Delete a portal user type

There may be instances when you want to remove a particular portal user type. In that case, you will first have to transfer the users to another portal user type and then delete the portal user type. You can only transfer the users to another portal user type if you want to delete their original portal user type.

If you have not associated any user to a portal user type, you can delete it as it is.

To delete and transfer a portal user type

  1. Go to Setup Channels > Portals.
  2. Select a portal and hover over it and then  click Delete.
  3. In the pop-up, click Transfer and Delete.
  4. Choose a Portal User Type to transfer the user to from the drop-down list.
  5. Click Yes Proceed.
  1. If you want to rename a portal user type, click the Edit option in the Portal Configuration page.
  2. You can deactivate user(s) who are added to a portal, if you don't want them to be a part of it anymore. You can add another user instead, as deactivated user won't count towards your user license. 

Deactivate a portal user type

You can deactivate a portal user whenever you need to.

To deactivate a portal user

  1. Select a Portal User Type and click Portal Users.
  2. In the Portal User List popup, toggle off the status bar of the user.

Managing Data Privacy of Portal Users

Data processing basis

As a Data Controller, to be GDPR compliant you need to process data based on one of the lawful bases. Based on your business requirement and discretion you can choose a processing basis from the list of bases: legitimate interests, contract, legal obligation, vital interests, public interests, and consent. If consent is the lawful basis used to process data, Zoho CRM provides an option to allow portal users to access the details you store about them, and provide consent to process their personal data.

You must consider the below points when setting data privacy for the portal users:

  • The data privacy tab will be displayed for a record only if the compliance settings are turned on.
  • The portal user can view the data processing basis in their account only if the data processing basis is Consent.
  • The portal user can also update the consent details of the leads or contacts that they have added.
  • The portal user can update their consent details from within the portal.

Data subject rights

Under GDPR, the portal users have certain rights regarding their personal information. They can manually add a request from the data privacy section in the portal for the following rights:
  • Right to delete
  • Right to stop processing
  • Right to export
  • Right to rectify

They can also add requests in the portal on behalf of the contacts or leads that they add to the portal. See Also Data Subject Rights

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