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PC World

Big sites win support awards

July 20, 1999
Web posted at: 2:46 p.m. EDT (1846 GMT)

by Anne Fischer Lent

(IDG) -- Big Web sites dominated last week when the Association of Support Professionals announced the winners of its second annual "Ten Best Web Support Sites" competition.

The 1999 ASP award winners are, in alphabetical order: CambridgeSoft, Cisco Systems, Dell Computer, Intel, Intuit, Iomega, Macromedia, Microsoft, Sybase, and Symantec.

A panel of 27 judges, all experts in the field of support, evaluated the sites in terms of performance, usability, content, navigation, graphics, and other factors. ASP is a professional association made up of more than 600 tech support managers in PC software companies, focusing on software support rather than help desk functions.
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ASP's Executive Director, Jeffrey Tarter, points out that the winning Web sites had unique organizational principles; for example, the Sybase site is heavily personalized, while the Microsoft site focuses on specific customer segments.

Support 2.0

The big surprise this year, according to Tarter, is that "sites have gotten a lot more sophisticated." He notes that Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, and Symantec have all won two years in a row, but that these and the other winning sites have been completely rebuilt.

How did Iomega, a company once famous for customer complaints, do so well? "Everyone gets a fresh start with the Web," Tarter says.

And Tarter notes that the reverse is also true--good phone support does not necessarily guarantee good Web support.

"Delivering good support on the Web is an enormously difficult problem that often involves thousands of documents, complex navigation and search tactics, and an unusually demanding customer base," Tarter says.

"It's not surprising that most of our winners this year are larger companies that have the resources to build great support sites," he adds. "The really excellent sites typically came from companies that could put huge resources behind them."

ASP will publish a special report on the ten winning sites, which will discuss "best practices" insights that these sites offer. The report will be available within the next month at the ASP link shown at right.

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