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Shooutout: BellSouth edges AT&T, US West trails

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Shootout ideas Do you have two marketers you would like to see go at it? Let us know and we might use them for a future shootout.: Sometimes it's easy to judge a good Web site; other times, it just gets down to who's making the call.

For this month's "Marketing Shoot-out," we asked our panel of business users which telephone company they would order primary-rate digital ISDN service from if location didn't matter. They were asked to choose among AT&T Corp., BellSouth Corp. and US West.

In the final tally of our 55 users, BellSouth narrowly edged out AT&T, while US West trailed a distant third.

EXCELLENT SEARCH ENGINE

Those choosing BellSouth cited its clean graphics and excellent search engine, which made the site easy to use, while describing the AT&T site as slow and overloaded with information.

"The BellSouth home page gave me an information list. I didn't have to go hunting all over the site to find the information I desired," said one user.

"The [AT&T] site required you to pass through several pages before finding the information desired. For a busy manager, this was time wasted, although it provided exposure for AT&T."

Those in the AT&T camp, meanwhile, said they liked that site's many informational layers, which contributed to their knowledge. At the same time, several said the BellSouth site didn't give them enough data.

"The [AT&T] service appears to be very thoroughly researched -- they seem to have more features available," said one respondent. "There isn't as much information about their service on the [BellSouth] Web site, giving the impression they perhaps don't know as much about ISDN service or don't offer as many options or features as AT&T."

Critics of the BellSouth site also pointed out that while information on ISDN was easy to find, data on primary-rate ISDN and large business options was not.

US West trailed, with many saying it wasn't well-organized and its response time was slow. In addition, users had trouble accessing the site during the survey, which was done in early February.

Said one user who had no trouble getting into the site: "The page did not take a long time to load, which indicates a concern for customers, unlike the AT&T page, which had graphics that were impressive but took a very long time to load. Although its emphasis was on people using their product, it was still welcoming."

BRAND CREDIBILITY

When looking at a telephone company offering, the Web site apparently also plays a factor in how people view reliability of the service.

Said one respondent: "BellSouth's Web site had an excellent search engine that gave me all of the information I needed to know about their primary-rate ISDN capabilities and service. I bet my company would get great support from them anytime we wanted to call them for help."

The "Marketing Shoot-out" survey was done by New York-based CLT Research Associates, which offers the WebScore service.

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