Support…What’s changed in the last 30 years

Support…What’s changed in the last 30 years

Customers are no longer limited to the telephone as the only source of support. With the advent of the internet, the ability for one to access information has changed the concept of support dramatically. Let’s look at how things have changed and what resources are available to get the information you need to solve your problems faster.

I started my career in support back in the 80’s before the arrival of the internet. At that time, the only tools available were a telephone and technical manual to research problems. I supported bill changers used to convert $1 and $5 bills into tokens for use in video arcades. If the bill changer was not working correctly the arcade manager would call me. We would discuss the problem over the phone and determine if an adjustment to the machine was needed or if one or more parts needed replacement.

Twenty plus years ago when I joined Datalogics, I supported software running on Vax mainframes and minicomputers. Support issues were still initiated with phone calls but the use of e-mail was starting to emerge. Other tools were also available: 4800 and 9600 baud modems and Kermit allowed us to dial in to customer systems. This allowed the support person to view log files, transfer files, configure systems and run tests directly on the customer’s system. Even with access to customer systems, problem resolution often still required telephone conversations between support and the customer. This sounds simple but it is not always efficient when you start to consider time zones, staff meetings or productions systems offline outside of normal business hours. If customers needed an update of their applications, large files were not practical to send over modem connections at that time, so 9 track tape reels were used, and delivered next day by FedEx. Eventually these were replaced by CD’s or FTP downloads.

Businesses quickly adopted e-mail and it has taken over as the primary form of communication between customers and the Datalogics support team not only for communication on support issues but also service bulletins and product announcements.  FTP replaced magnetic tape years ago as the preferred method to provide customer software releases or updates. It’s still in use but gone are command line “get” and “put” commands. Applications like FileZilla or your Web browser can now handle it for you. We can transfer data at speeds never dreamed of years ago as we listened to the beeps, buzz and static filled squawks of our modems trying to establish a connection.

So, where does that leave us today? I no longer have a phone on my desk. My phone has been replaced by an application running on my computer. My phone sends me messages – it couldn’t ring off the hook even if it wanted to. Customers now have direct access to our support portal allowing them to submit problems directly to our tracking system. This includes the ability to attach files and update the case comments as needed.  E-mail is no longer the only game in town for communications: Skype, HipChat, Slack and Basecamp are all tools being used to help facilitate the support process when needed. Will they replace e-mail? Only time will tell. Newer methods to exchange samples and content with customers have evolved, gone are the modems of yesterday and we are no longer dependent on FTP. The internet provides us with new tools such as Dropbox, GitHub repositories and Docker containers. These are examples of new technologies being used to exchange samples or software with customers.

And don’t forget everyone’s favorite helper – Google. For technical support, a Google search often leads to a Stack Overflow page. Keep an eye out for us there too. Datalogics is actively participating in Stack Overflow as an additional channel to provide developer community support, and we have created the tags: “adobe-pdf-library” and “pdf-java-toolkit” to help facilitate knowledge sharing.

Yes, support has changed with the times, and technology allows us to deliver more information faster than ever. As a customer, you have access to more resources than ever to get your problems solved.  What works best for you? And what would you like to see more of from Datalogics?

Along with access to a dedicated Technical Support Rep, here are other resources we offer:

Developer Resources site: http://dev.datalogics.com/

Knowledge Base: http://feedback.datalogics.com/knowledgebase

GitHub: https://github.com/datalogics?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=samples&type=&language=

Stack Overflow PDFL: https://stackoverflow.com/tags/adobe-pdf-library/info

Stack Overflow PDFJT: https://stackoverflow.com/tags/pdf-java-toolkit/info

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