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Apr 94 Top 10
Volume Number:10
Issue Number:4
Column Tag:Think top 10

The New Face
of Technical Support at Symantec

By Rick Hartmann, Symantec Technical Support, Symantec Corp.

This is a monthly column written by Symantec’s Technical Support Engineers intended to provide you with information on Symantec products. Each month we cover either a specific application of tools or a “Q&A” list.

The New Face of Technical Support at Symantec

This month we are going to deviate from the usual Think Top Ten to present the details of our new technical support policy at Symantec. We will still include some current “Top Ten” questions and answers at the end of this article.

As some of you may already know, Symantec recently began a new fee-based service plan. This, in addition to relocating all Symantec Customer Service, Order Administration, and Technical Support to our new centralized facility in Eugene, Oregon, has caused many significant changes and improvements in technical support. Our goal in this article is to describe our new support policies so you can better select the method of support that will be the most effective at the least cost.

Fundamental to this plan is our continuing effort to ensure that Symantec provides our customers high quality, comprehensive, and cost effective technical support options. This has always been our goal and has not changed.

Symantec Support Solutions has three tiers: StandardCare, PriorityCare, and PremiumCare. StandardCare is available to registered users of Symantec products and includes unlimited free support via electronic and automated services as well as limited free telephone support.

PriorityCare and PremiumCare provide both individual users and corporate customers with fee-based options designed to meet their requirements.

SUMMARY OF SERVICES

StandardCare

Symantec Support Solutions provide several support options to all registered Symantec customers free-of-charge as part of StandardCare. All users have unlimited access to technical product information, sample files and electronic messaging via CompuServe, America OnLine and Symantec's download bulletin board service (BBS). Internet is supported with an anonymous FTP server only (no messaging, downloads only). Average response time to an electronic message on any of the supported systems is 48 hours Monday through Friday.

Technical and general product information is also available 24 hours a day through a toll-free facsimile retrieval service. Symantec provides 90 days limited telephone support for questions regarding installation and general usage of our Development Tools products.

The free services are designed to provide all our customers with the assistance they may need to successfully install, configure and start using our products.

For the Development Tools customer, to help the customer successfully run any of the included demo programs would serve this purpose. For example, for the Think C compiler, running the “Hello World” demo would show that the Think Project Manager was properly installed and operational. To be able to use any Think Reference database with the Think Reference application would verify its correct installation.

We are unable to support previous versions of our products. At the time of writing, Think C 6.0.x, Think Pascal 4.0.x, Think Reference 2.0.x, and Symantec C++ 6.0.x are supported versions. Contact Customer Service to verify if you have the latest version or to purchase an upgrade. Having the latest version ensures that the product is at its most functional level and can reduce the cost of technical support.

Customers can make unlimited calls for 90 days from the first call on general usage questions. What this means for the Development Tools customer is we will assist in explaining the use of various configuration options, explain menu selections, and how to use any functionality the product provides. We will also provide references, not recommendations, to third party books and periodicals (like this one) which specifically relate to the customer’s coding problem or question. Our policy does not allow us to write or debug programs within StandardCare.

PriorityCare

Customers requiring immediate telephone support for questions not covered by Standard Care can select two payment options for per-incident services:

A flat-fee of $25 when calling an 800-toll-free priority number or $2 per minute, up to a $25 limit, when calling a 900 priority number. This priority service is available Monday through Friday from 6a.m. to 5p.m. Pacific time.

This service is designed for the software developer who has only occasional need of technical support. All types of support questions will be answered on these lines.

If we determine that a defect in our product is causing the problem, we will apply a credit to the customer’s credit card account.

PremiumCare

Symantec offers two levels of PremiumCare service subscriptions: Gold and Platinum. PremiumCare Gold is designed more for consultants and small developer groups. It provides technical support service for each licensed user that includes 800 toll-free service, unlimited calls, extended service hours, and quarterly updates of technical notes and bulletins. Annual subscription prices for PremiumCare Gold are $149 per user for Development Tools products; site service contracts are available.

PremiumCare Platinum is targeted to major developers who need the most responsive levels of technical service. In addition to all the services provided at the Gold level, Platinum subscribers receive priority access to senior staff, technical notes, a support center manual and automatic software revision updates. Annual subscription cost for PremiumCare Platinum is $5000 for two subscriber contacts. Additional contacts cost $1500 annually.

For additional support, users can subscribe to two PremiumCare Platinum options including extended 24 hour support and an assigned primary senior support technician. PremiumCare Platinum options have an additional annual cost of $2500 per option.

Consulting Services

If a developer requires assistance in either writing or debugging code using one of our supported products, we can provide consulting services at the rate of $150 per hour. This service is provided on an appointment basis and can be scheduled during a customer call on any support service line. Payment is by credit card or purchase order. Delivery of service may be through phone or mail including e-mail.

Summary

It should be emphasized that we are now focusing on differentiating technical support from consulting. It is the goal of technical support to educate our customers in the independent use of our products.

For independent consultants, programmers, and students the most cost effective method of getting support is through one of the online services. By posting questions to any of our forums, you are likely to receive an answer from a peer who has encountered the same problem before and solved it.

In order to further increase the responsiveness of our online services, we have instituted the use of “Section Leaders” who can answer many of your questions. Although they are not Symantec employees, they are “hired” to bridge the gap between technical support and our online customers. Each Section Leader was chosen for their expertise in our products and their demonstrated performance in answering questions on our forum. We believe this approach will improve our response and allow us to effectively serve more online customers.

For software developers, our support services now offer a wide range of options. Which ones you choose depend on a variety of factors. As a guideline, if you have a staff of programmers who are experienced with our products, then occasional use of the 800 or 900 service may be the most cost effective. If you think you’ll have more than four incidents per year then the Gold Premium Care subscription would be the better choice over the 800 service.

For large corporations who develop commercial or custom applications using our development tools and must have support for time-critical development projects, our Platinum Premium Care subscription would be the best choice. Having the options of contact with the same senior support engineer and weekend/afterhours support guarantee the most expedient solution to your problems.

If, in determining the cause of a problem, it is determined that it was caused by a defect in our software we will waive the charge in the case of an 800/900 number call.

If you do decide to call for support at any level, please make sure you have first followed all the recommended procedures described in the user manual under “Contacting Technical Support”. The more effort you have put into solving the problem, the lower the cost of your support call.

If you have questions about our support policies, please call Symantec Customer Service or Technical Support. We will be happy to explain your options and assist you in selecting the best level of support.

A Few of the Top Ten

Now that we’ve covered our support policy, let’s take a look at some “Top Ten” questions and answers.

Q. What is “Internal Error ZREF,” and what can I do about it?

(This question was first asked in the August 1993 issue. We still get numerous calls on it so it bears repeating once more.)

A. It means that your project file is corrupted. Removing objects from the project and rebuilding may fix it, providing the corruption was in the object portion of the project. If it wasn’t, you need to create a new project and add the sources into it. If your project file grows towards sixteen megabytes, you may also see this error. Try storing your debug info separately: this will cut down on the project size. Unfortunately this still means you will need to rebuild the project from scratch. If you have AppleScript then you can use the “Save project as text” and “Create Project From Text” AppleScripts (in the ‘:Scripting:Sample Applescripts’ Folder) to automate this task.

Q. I just typed in this small program that uses iostreams from a standard C++ textbook. I get all sorts of link errors. Why won’t your compiler run this program? I already have ANSI++ in my project.

A. First, to use the IOStreams library, you must #include the file iostream.h. You also need to add ANSI++, CPlusLib, AND IOStreams to your project. Do not add the unix library to your project. IOStreams contains all the functionality of the unix library.

Since adding these libraries will push the segment size over 32K, you’ll need to re-segment your project. We suggest that you include CPLusLib and your source in one segment and ANSI++ and IOStreams each in their own segment.

Q. Is there a way to configure the #include path option, similar to standard C/C++ command-line compilers? We have searched the documentation. It suggests that it follows a fixed search pattern (through the project folder, then the THINK folder, etc...). Is this correct? Is there no way to modify or extend this search mechanism? For example, we want to create a project which generates a library. Several other projects will link to this library and need to #include its header files. Do we have to put the library in the THINK folder or somehow fit the library and all projects which use it into the same folder hierarchy? Ideally we would like each project to be in its own, independant folder, seperate from each other and the library. Similarly, we don't want to clutter up the THINK folder either.

A. Actually, it does go a little further than that. When you

#include "foo.h" // note double quotes here

the search is in the following order:

1) The same folder as the file containing the #include. [Watch out! This one can really confuse you if you have more than one foo.h in the search path.]

2) The same folder as the project, and recursively all of its subfolders except the one name "Aliases", if there is one.

3) Folders indicated by aliases in the "Aliases" folder within the project folder, and recursively all of their subfolders.

4) The same folder that contains the THINK Project Manager, and recursively all of its subfolders except for the one named "Aliases", if there is one.

5) Folders indicated by aliases in the "Aliases" folder within the THINK folder, and recursively all of their subfolders.

If you #include <foo.h>, using the ‘<’ and ‘>’ instead of quotes, only steps (4) and (5) are used.

Specifically, regarding the question about libraries: See step (3) above. Put the library in its own folder. For a project that will use that library, create a folder named "Aliases" inside the project folder. Create an alias of the library's folder, and drag it into your project's Aliases folder. Your project now thinks it owns the library, but other projects can also do the same. (Thanks to Steve Stockman who contributed this Question and his Answer from Compuserve.)

That’s all we have room for this month. Thanks to all previous and current members of the Symantec Technical Support team for their contributions; Colen Garoutte-Carson, Kenneth Johnson, Chris Prinos, Kevin Irlen, and especially Scott Shurr for his input and proofreading assistance.

 
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