The scoop on customers


This has not yet been publicly announced, but I’m too excited to keep it a secret. SAS recently created a new division devoted exclusively to customer support. The division’s name is Customer Engagement and Support (CES); its leader is Fritz Lehman and it consists of four divisions: Publications, Education, Technical Support, and Professional Services. All of us from these areas are extremely excited about the possibilities for our customers that this new division can bring. And you are the first outside of SAS to hear about it!

One of the initial outcomes of creating this new division is a commitment on all of our parts to learn more about each other’s business—so that we can provide a more seamless customer experience and run our own organizations more efficiently. Just since October, when the new division was formed, Publications has met with people from all of these organizations and we are already talking about things that are going to really benefit you, our customers. For example, by getting specific feedback from Technical Support and Professional Services, who deal with customers on a daily basis, we’ve learned some things that we believe can improve our documentation. Input from the field is something Publications needs more of. 

I’m telling you this because I have given you the scoop and I want something in return. Please give us your input on our documentation: Does it meet your needs? Is it organized in a way that makes sense? Is something missing that you need? Is it too much?  No matter how general or how specific the input, we will take it seriously. Thank you.

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About Author

Kathy Council

Vice President, SAS Publications


  1. Pingback: How SAS is responding to your questions about support - SAS Users Groups

  2. For the part of the manuals.
    - These are having often very good written content, but the needed information on a topic must be collected often by reviewing several of them. A good reordening with strategy could help.
    - The solutions are having many times a protection not being pulbic. I have seen several of them and would advice to make them public. The advantage is that many consultants could use that information to give more justified and positive advice for SAS. These manuals are still protected as reslut oft the WPS case.
    - Some topics are missing.
    + There is no reference but it should be somewhere (Quentin) or
    + The reference is not clear for the intended readers (Gert)
    + I would add some of them are not getting attention/awareness like SAS-70 (and more)
    It is the old name but there are a lot of mandatory guidelines arround (information IT).

    • Jaap,

      We appreciate your comments. We have some follow-up questions regarding some of your comments. Would you be willing to engage in further discussion on this topic?

      Gary Meek
      Sr. Director, Documentation Development

  3. Cathy
    The new organization sounds interesting and, like Quentin, I wonder why the user group support was not included in the package.
    As to the state of the documentation, here are some thoughts.
    First, I don’t envy you the task of trying to cover so much material and create a coherent set of documents. Nor do I envy the person who is encountering SAS for the first time since SAS has come to mean so many things and can be seen from so many aspects. My thoughts here are largely those of someone who needs to manipulate and analyze data using an editor and is trying to find the equivalent of the old Base manual. Of the methods of finding documentation, the 9.4 Documentation opening window offers the three overall approaches (skipping over the Whats New bit) . I find the Documentation by Title a bit hard to use since one has to do a lot of looking to find the modern equivalent of the Base manual since its components have been scattered and one must search for them by different names. The Programmer’s Bookshelf and the Product Index are a little less confusing. I would put those two items in front of the Documentation by Title so that the person opening the web page would be more likely to use Bookshelf or Product Index.
    Going beyond this gripe, I really don’t like the search tool. If I enter “Array Statement”, the first six hits are for specialized usages in either Stat or OR and I can’t see any reason for those hits being presented first. Of course, as I have said my viewpoint is that of a data step programmer who is looking for Base SAS code but I have to wonder how many users are looking for the use of an array in the CLP procedure vs. using it in a data step.
    I think that my overall concern is via your web portal, how do we make it easier for the novice user to discover the components of the language and also introduce him or her to the associated products? At the moment, there is a bewildering list of documents and some of these are still arcane to me because I have not needed to become familiar with them. I think it might be useful to offer an introductory screen (that could be skipped if the user desired) that offered a dialog to lead the user to the appropriate documentation. I’m envisioning a series of screens that would quiz the user on their skill level and ask what they want to do. A beginner would probably need to be asked more questions in order to determine that they are reading data from some source and need to process it a bit and will then summarize it with Summary or Univariate. Right now, the novice user is sort of dumped in a jungle like the folks on Naked and Afraid and has to search to find what they need.
    One further thought: how do we introduce users to some of the products that have been around for years but which, to my thinking, have been largely overlooked. I’m thinking of items such as AF and FSP and even LAB and Insight. As for the latter, we were having a JMP presentation at a VASUG meeting and afterwards I was chatting with one of my buddies who happened to have his laptop with him. It turned out that Insight was installed on it unknown to him and while it is not as powerful as JMP, he did not know of its capabilities.
    Thanks for the opportunity to offer feedback and please give my best to the crew.
    Merry Christmas
    Nat Woodiing

    • Nat,

      First, thank you for your detailed comments about the things you find useful and those you don’t.

      We agree with you regarding the order of items on the Documentation home pages on, so we’ve changed them to make the Product Index, the SAS Programmer’s Bookshelf, and the SAS Syntax Index be the first items you see. It’s out there today. Check it out and let us know what you think.

      Regarding your comments on search, several of us have repeated the example you gave in your comments (“Array Statement”), but we’ve gotten different results from what you reported. In our tests, ARRAY Statement in the book SAS Language Reference: Statements was always the first one or two search result. That said, we of course don’t control the behavior of search engines, and they often don’t weight things the way we would want either. Here are a couple of tips for getting the search result you want. First, if you search from the Documentation home page, the search results page has filters at the top. You can filter by the product “Base SAS” to see only results from Base SAS documentation. Actually, on the Documentation home page you can pre-filter your search results by Product name, so you can specify up front that you’d only like to see results for Base SAS. Finally, you can go to the Base SAS Product Documentation page and search from there. There is a search box on that page labeled “Search Base SAS documentation.”
      When you know the name of the SAS language item you are looking for, you might prefer to use the SAS Syntax Index available from the Documentation home page.

      Regarding your comment about making things easier for the novice SAS user, we think that’s an excellent point. Based on your comment, we have a group of folks working to address that gap, so watch for something soon to address it.

      Once again, thank you so much for your comments.

  4. Gert H. N. Laursen on

    Does this mean that the books have to be more solution centric and actionable - that is: how to set up a multichannel marketing solution - from technoligy to change management. Or how to make a questionnaire or statistics in the software etc.?

    • Shelly Goodin

      Hi Gert,

      Thank you for reading Kathy Council's latest blog post. We are continuing plans to publish books on a variety of topics in 2014 and welcome your ideas. Also, please let us know if you have interest in writing another book! Feel free to comment here or email Shelley Sessoms, Julie Platt, or myself to share ideas. Happy holidays!

  5. I saw a suggstion in that it would be helpful to have an index of all SAS error messages (and warnings), with exact wording of the message, description of cause(s) etc.

    Seems like a good idea to me.

    Would be great to have a dictionary table which stored this information.

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