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I'm interested in the difference between using the words help or support when used in the context of customer help/support on a website or application.

Which would you use and why? As always any supporting information whether formal or observational would be great.

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what sort of help/support do you offer? documents? videos? livechat? phone support? email support? – Bobby Tables Nov 7 '11 at 15:42
This isn't a question about a specific implementation, do I can't answer that in more detail than I have already given. – JohnGB Nov 7 '11 at 16:22
up vote 31 down vote accepted

In a desktop application, I associate "help" with a built-in or online documentation system, possibly containing a search function and/or a context sensitive guidance system.

With "support" on the other hand I think of a call center, website, phone line or whatever, but always occupied by human beings that are paid by my license fee and who will listen to the problems I have with their application.

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What makes you think of support as being people on the other end? – JohnGB Nov 7 '11 at 14:43
Software companies have what they call a "support organisation", or a "support center", or a division named "customer support". Their people are called "support engineers". I guess it's that. When I hear support I think of a team of people. But maybe that's just me. – Bart Gijssens Nov 7 '11 at 14:48
I would also vote for support = humans and help = FAQ or Library (get help or get supportet) – patrics Nov 7 '11 at 16:03
I'm with Bart. 'Support' implies that something external to yourself is involved, but 'help' doesn't have this association. Also, i'd be tempted to suggest that users have been conditioned to associate 'help' with something more passive ('Press F1 for help') but 'support' associated with people ('Log it with Support') – JonW Nov 7 '11 at 16:59
Another vote for Bart's definitions from me. Support means there will be real humans to support you. Help means there will be docs and FAQs for self-service. – Nadine Schaeffer Nov 7 '11 at 17:05

As I look at it, Help is documentation of usage/howto and expected behavior. Support is assistance: electronic, human or otherwise, that provides assistance for those users who couldn't solve their problem by looking at the Help.

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Help is free... support costs more money... that is the way I think of it. Although at my company we are moving to calling "help" "user assistance."

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