10/20/2021 - Articles

Improving the support portal: Cooperation for customer satisfaction

Especially when a customer is looking for help or contacting the company, a positive user experience matters. A service or support portal is a must-have when it comes to ensuring customer satisfaction and is therefore an indispensable part of ITSM (IT service management). But what is a support portal? What tasks does it perform? Why is Projektron working with Reutlingen University to improve the support portal? You can find out all this in this article.

What is a support portal?

A customer support portal, also called a web support portal or simply a support portal for short, is a web-based customer service tool where customers or users of a product or service can find help with their questions quickly and easily. The following applies: the more complex the product or service and the greater the need for explanation, the more comprehensive and varied the support portal should be.


This help can be provided in various forms. Customers usually have a choice between various options for finding a solution on their own. The "classics" are:

  • Provided user manuals and technical documentation
  • Wikis
  • FAQ section
  • Video tutorials
  • Glossary of terms
  • Chatbots are also being used more and more frequently.

All of these offerings require self-service by the customer. This is why the terms self-service portal or customer self-service are increasingly appearing as a distinction from an extensive and comprehensive support portal.

Comprehensive support portal

Comprehensive customer support for complex products and services includes not only the offerings of a self-service portal, but above all another component: Users can submit support requests via the support portal at any time and get in touch directly with contacts in the company's customer support department. There are various methods for doing this:

  • Inquiry via a contact form,
  • Contact via e-mail,
  • Calling a service hotline,
  • Inquiries via chats or social media, and
  • Submitting a ticket.

Aim of a support portal

A support portal is much more than just an extended contact form for questions. It should centralize the interaction between the customer and the vendor

  • centralize
  • accelerate and
  • and make it clearer for both sides.

A first-class support experience is an important tool for increasing customer satisfaction. It contributes to long-term customer loyalty. Decisive for the quality of the support experience is not only the subjective perception of support quality, but also the usability of the support portal.

Support portals are usually the first and often the only point of contact for users to raise their concerns. The support portal helps the company's customer support to process customer concerns quickly, in a structured and efficient manner. With its functionalities, the support portal provides the basis for optimizing the entire support process.

Customers submit requests to support for a wide variety of reasons. The most common motives for submitting a request are as follows:

  • Help request: the user needs assistance in using a specific functionality.
  • Suggestion: the user wants to submit a suggestion to improve the product or service.
  • Error message: The user has discovered a bug in the product or service and would like to point it out.

Overall, the scope of a support portal is quite individual and therefore varies by product type. Especially in the case of a complex software product like Projekton BCS, it is significant to provide a clear and user-friendly access to the support portal.

Ticket is trump: This is how the Projektron support portal works

The support portal gives users access to the release notes and download files for the latest program versions of BCS. Contact with customer support at Projektron is largely covered by the support ticket system. This is where users make inquiries, express wishes and submit error tickets. Automated workflows ensure that each ticket ends up with the appropriate agent. Support staff use the tickets for organization, documentation and billing. Customer companies can set up their own helpdesk with the BCS ticket system. This versatility is also the main reason why Projektron GmbH makes its support portal primarily accessible via the BCS ticket system. Ticket is the trump card - and for everyone involved!

The BCS ticket system for users

Via the ticket system in Projektron BCS, users deposit error tickets or adjustment requests at any level of their project structure, for example directly on the project, on a sub-project or on individual tasks. BCS displays all created tickets in lists with various filter functions. In the list, users can view the created tickets and check them, for example, with regard to

  • Status
  • Priority
  • Agent
  • Reference to project structure elements
  • Creation date

The view settings can be used to show additional columns, such as agents, ticket customers, or keywords, if desired. In addition, sophisticated filter functions and ticket search functions are available. Customers can also view the status of their support budget via the ticket system.

To enter a ticket, input masks with numerous predefined and selectable attributes are available.

  • Subject: Here the creator enters why he is creating this ticket. What is the subject?
  • Description: This is optional and offers ample space in the rich text editor to formulate the problem or request in detail.
  • Ticket Type: Here users define whether the ticket is an error ticket, a customization request, a suggestion, a request, a service, or an open item. This already makes it easier for first level support to assign, categorize, prioritize and allocate to the appropriate support agent.
  • Attachments: the creator simply attaches screenshots or other relevant files to the ticket via drag-and-drop.
  • Priority and desired deadline: The user can indicate how urgent a solution to a problem or an editing of the ticket is to him or by when exactly he expects a solution.

The BCS support ticket system for support agents

Via the ticket list, Projektron GmbH's first-level support sees all entered customer tickets and can further specify and keyword them via the ticket view.

  • further specify and keyword them,
  • send the creator an answer, a request, a query or feedback,
  • assign tickets to one or any number of support staff members,
  • change master data of the ticket, for example, to correct a ticket type and status assignment,
  • link and bundle the ticket with other tickets,
  • Calculate planning efforts and specify delivery dates,
  • select billing types,
  • leave comments,
  • store additional documents,
  • record processing times for the ticket
  • bill the processing time via a support budget and
  • track the complete processing and change history.

All ticket agents and the ticket customer, i.e. usually the creator, can leave queries and comments for other agents at all support levels. Via the notification system, the ticket recipient defines who is to be informed about which ticket notification by e-mail and when.

Limitless possibilities, great optimization potential

The support ticket system is not only used by BCS users to contact the Projektron GmbH support team. Customers can also use the system for their own customer support and set up their own support portal with their own start page.

This rough overview gives you an idea: The Projektron BCS support ticket system offers a huge range of functions and comes up with countless elements, views and functionalities. Because of this complexity, the potential for optimization is also huge and the chance of tracking down an error is definitely there.

How to improve a support portal?

If the focus is to be on the customer experience, it makes sense to continuously - or at least at regular intervals - check whether the user experience and customer satisfaction are still guaranteed. There is almost always potential for optimization. From the company's perspective, however, this is very difficult to implement. If the focus is to be on the customer perspective, the following problems arise:

  • Employees who work with the software on a daily basis no longer recognize weaknesses and potential.
  • There is no such thing as a general customer experience, since perception is always subjective and individual.
  • Customer surveys are not reliable because users project their individual satisfaction with the support quality onto the usability of the support portal.

For developers and Projektron employees, functions generally appear self-explanatory; they do not recognize possible ambiguities. Anyone who has worked on or with a software for only a few weeks can no longer look at it without thinking. He knows too much. That's why a fresh look from an outsider is essential.

University cooperation to improve the Projektron BCS support portal

Projektron GmbH regularly cooperates with colleges and universities to give students the opportunity to immerse themselves in the working world at an early stage and apply academic knowledge in practice. In October 2020, Projektron began a cooperation with Reutlingen University near Stuttgart for the first time. For two semesters, a team of three master's students from the Business Information Systems program worked with Projektron's university support team.

The goal of the project was to create and prototype a concept for an improved Projektron BCS support portal. In the project planning, the participants divided the project "Improvement of the support portal" into two phases.

Project phase 1: Analysis and exploration of possibilities

In the first phase of the project, the students had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the company and learn how to use Projektron BCS. At various stages of familiarization, they were asked to look at the support portal, iteratively gather and validate requirements, and analyze common usage practices.

A common strategy to enable a better user experience is to incorporate incentive systems and gamification elements. The students were asked to examine whether such elements could be integrated into the Projektron support portal. They were to make concrete suggestions as to which elements would be a useful addition where in the support portal. Since Projektron BCS is a B2B (business-to-business) product, the use of gamification and incentive systems is naturally only recommended to an appropriate extent.

Project phase 2: Implementation on the prototype

In the second phase, things got practical: The students created a prototype of an improved support portal with Adobe XD. They were able to use this model as an example to implement all their requirements and suggested changes. In iterative processes with Projektron, the participants jointly revised and validated the model.

In the process, the question of whether the suggestions could be implemented was already being addressed. At the same time, however, new ideas of any kind continued to be recorded in order to obtain further approaches for later product versions of Projektron BCS.

Improving the support portal mission: a result to be proud of

There were a total of 43 tickets submitted by the students via the Projektron support portal. The observations, comments and ideas formulated in them concerned all aspects of the support portal. The main issues were

  • Inconsistencies in the presentation of various elements,
  • Optimization potential in the area of the user interface (Graphical User Interface, GUI for short),
  • Usability deficiencies due to misleading naming or non-intuitive navigation.

Of the 43 tickets submitted

  • 22 were suggestions for improvement
  • 17 requested adaptations of existing elements
  • 3 identified bugs to be fixed
  • 1 requested for support (help)

The Projektron GmbH development team already began checking, recording and implementing the submitted tickets in parallel with the project work. To this day, some tickets continue to be reviewed and successively implemented.

Thanks to the suggestions, the following have been achieved so far

  • communication paths have been shortened and optimized, for example in the feedback process
  • improved user-friendliness and
  • optimized the structure.

Conclusion: Successful cooperation, better support portal

The cooperation with the students of Reutlingen University for the project "Improve Support Portal" was successful for all parties involved. The students were able to contribute their ideas and practically test their theoretical knowledge for two semesters in the development reality of a software company. But that's not all: Their suggestions contributed significantly to improving the Projektron support portal. The optimizations mainly concerned aspects of usability by improving the navigation structure and the user interface (GUI).

The project once again clearly demonstrated to those involved at Projektron GmbH how important usability is in every aspect of software development and how quickly one loses sight of the user's perspective with developer goggles on.

About the authors

In October 2020, Projektron GmbH entered into a cooperation with Reutlingen University in Baden-Württemberg. For the duration of two semesters until July 2021, a team of three master's students from the Business Informatics program worked with Projektron's university support team to improve the Projektron support portal. In this blog article, the students briefly summarize their findings and results of the project.

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In the student project, Projektron wanted to improve its support portal
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