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Maintenance national meeting: results

  The hardware maintenance session previously announced on this list
was held during the national meeting last week.  I believe that the
meeting was very successful in providing feedback for Symbolics and in
giving the company an opportunity to describe the steps they are
taking toward providing better hardware service.  Mike Hilgenberg
(national customer service manager) and Jay Weber (director of
customer service) were in attendance from Symbolics.  The following
points seem to be worth noting:

 - Mike Hilgenberg outlined two plans for providing more service
   options.  One would take the form of a "parts contract" where the
   customer would provide much of the labor (with the help of training
   and telephone support from Symbolics), but all parts would be
   supplied for a flat monthly fee.  The other plan is essentially
   self-maintenance, which is like the current T&M except that
   training and documentation would be available in addition to the
   parts repair service.  More information on these plans is likely to
   become available in the next few months, as the details are more
   thoroughly worked out.

 - Mike said the parts repair cost schedule is currently under review.
   Most customers in attendance agreed that they are currently higher
   than would seem reasonable.

 - As issues having to do with efficiency of maintenance (response
   time, spare stocks, DOA spares, timely ECOs, etc.), Mike repeatedly
   emphasized that Symbolics is currently installing an electronic
   tracking system to assist with dispatching service personnel and
   tracking parts and problems.  They expect this system to be
   operational in two to three months.  They also listed numerous
   steps being taken to improve these areas in the interim.

 - Symbolics has hired a full time diagnostics writer.

 - Customers were advised to not hesitate to call their regional
   managers if they experience any problem with their service, and to
   call the area manager, Mike, or Jay if satisfactory results are not

 - Almost all customers present agreed that, even if Symbolics
   improves maintenance quality, the contract cost is high relative to
   Symbolics' competition and would be a factor in equipment
   purchasing decisions.

  I'd like to once again thank Symbolics for attending and listening,
and the customers who provided thoughtful input for Symbolics, and
didn't mind too much when I told them to shut up.  I think the result
will prove good for us all.

	-- Rich

 PS: If I've missed any important points, please fill them in.