How to Get Faster Technical Support for ACT! by Sage

As most of my regular readers and followers know, I do a lot of on-line technical support as well as providing support services to our resellers and ACT! Certified Consultants and one of the things I notice is that I regularly need to ask users the same questions to diagnose the problem and provide a solution.

This means that the support person’s time is spent asking these and so the incident takes longer to resolve and get the user up and running. So, I thought I would provide a basic list of items to include to help any support technician resolve an incident faster.

When asking for support via email or an on-line site, it’s much easier if you write your query and necessary information in short points rather than large paragraphs. They are easier to read and respond to. Also, if asking about multiple, unrelated issues, it’s often better to do each one separately.

I will probably update this list as other common items come to mind.

Not all of these will be relevant to all support calls, but the more you provide the more likely you’ll get a faster solution.
If running on a LAN, supply any relevant items for both workstation AND server.
While these are targeted for support of ACT! by Sage, many are applicable for other software products also.

Should Have:

These items are usually necessary for any incident:

  • Include the full version and build of the software. This is usually found under Help | About
    It is worth-while checking to see if there is an updated version available and, if so, applying it.
    Remember that every ACT! system sharing a database MUST be of the same build and Hotfix.
    If running a Premium version with a sync server, this includes the sync server.
    If related to ACT! connecting to a Microsoft Office product, also include the version for Office.
  • Include the operating system – also note the service pack and if it’s 32-bit or 64-bit
    In Microsoft Windows, you can find this by right-clicking on My Computer and selecting Properties
  • If you have an error message, include the full error.
    Hint: If sending the error via email or posting to a web site, don’t do this via a screen shot.
    For most Windows software, this is most easily done by clicking on the error box and pressing Ctrl-C.
    Then going to the email or web post and pressing Ctrl-V.
    This means you get the full error without having to re-type it and the technician can copy directly from it into any search engine they might need to access for information.
  • If you still think a screen shot will help to convey the problem, don’t paste it into Word.
    Open MS-Paint (usually in Programs | Accessories), paste it there and then Save As a JPG file.
    This makes the file smaller in size and easier for the technician to read.
  • If you can replicate the problem, include the EXACT steps you take.
    Identify what you expected to happen and what actually happens.
  • Did you first notice problem after an update to ACT!, Windows or anything else on your system?
  • Do you regard yourself as technical or not?
    This will help a good technician provide support at the right level for you.

Consider Adding:

Which items from the following list are necessary will depend on the type of problem you have:

  • Include hardware specs like RAM, Processor and, if known, Hard Drive speed (in RPM)
  • Include database specs like number of contacts and file size
  • If the problem is related to emailing from ACT!, include the email client you are using:
    Outlook, Outlook Express, Lotus Notes, Eudora, Internet Mail (POP3/SMTP) – include the version
  • If running any add-ons or plugins for ACT!, name them if they might be related (or if not sure)
  • If for an issue with a PDA or Smart Phone, include the operating system and version
  • What brand of anti-virus or firewall are you running?
  • If your problem causes a crash or other error, see if there is anything logged in the Windows Event Viewer or ACT!’s logs. For instructions to do this, see: Tools for Viewing Error Logs
  • If the problems seems database specific, have you tried to repair it? For instructions, see either of: ACT! by Sage Database Rebuild and Repair Procedures or ACT! 5.0 or 6.0 Database Repair Options

What Have You Tried:

You should also include anything you might have tried to resolve the problem. Some items you might try doing, depending on the type of problem could include:

  • Have you checked the ACT! Knowledge Base?
    This should be your first port of call as finding an answer there will take less time and get you up and running faster, especially for common questions and errors.
  • Does the problem happen with another database? Try opening the demo database and testing.
    Hint: The login user for the ACT! demo database is “Chris Huffman” with no password
  • If running on a multi-user database or network:
    Does the problem happen when logged into ACT! as a different user or from a different workstation?
  • If related to a template, report or layout, does it happen with other files?
  • If a connection issue, have you tried disabling the firewall and anti-virus for a test?

Other Tips:

Remember that the best and fastest support option for ACT! by Sage is by working with an ACT! Certified Consultant. They are not only well trained, but can personalise their support to better suit your specific needs and can look at your environment and business needs to suggest improvements in ACT!’s operation, design and usefulness to your business

If you don’t need an answer urgently and are more technically capable, these are some useful on-line forums that you can get peer-based support: ACT! Community Site, Experts-Exchange and itToolbox

For better web searching of ACT! related information, links to support and other useful sites as well as updates on ACT!, please download the ACT! Fanatics Toolbar

To keep informed with the latest information, join both of these:
If you are on LinkedIN, I also recommend joining the ACT! Fanatics Group
If on Facebook, Like the GL Computing Page

Please feel free to add a comment with any suggestions you might have to improve this list.

9 comments:

crowleydj said...

Is there a simple way to organize an Excel spreadsheet so that the data collected in it will simply be able to be exported to ACT! by Dage (9.0) Version 9.0.1.162? I am talking about a couple hundred records that we purchase from time to time. It is rather time consuming to re-enter manually. Also, can we import these records into our "main" database but also make them part of a new group we would establish just for these contacts?

GL Computing said...

You should post your question to one of the on-line forums mentioned at the bottom of the post

GL Computing said...

I thought I'd add... the best way to bring the Excel data into ACT! is with itImport:
http://www.GLComputing.com.au/main/57/1

Anonymous said...

I purchased a new computer running Windows XP pro. I used laplink to transfer my programs/files to my new computer. The program transfered, but says failed to open a connection to the database.

I followed all the steps to remove the SQL Server and could not delete the folder out of program files. It stated instapi.dll access denied.

I also browsed the cd for SQLINSTALL.exe and it is not listed under dependencies. I tried the SQLEXPR file. I still get the same message.

This computer is connected to a domain and the databases are shared and kept on the server.

Any step-by-step suggestions?

PMI

GL Computing said...

Stetsc... you would be more likely to get an answer if you post your question to the LinkedIN ACT! Fanatics Group:
http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=49896

Swift Computers Services said...

Yaah!I have look your complete blog & i got some important points regarding "Technical-Support".If we remember your all point so we will solve some technical problem ourself.Conclusion of all points is that if we save some important software & files so we will handle our computer easily.

Actually when we purchase a computer so this is also necessary that we will take all over information about Computer Support and Services because problem comes anytime & anywhere.

At last your blog is very nice & informative & i really recommand it.

Swift Computers Services said...

Yaah!I have look your complete blog & i got some important points regarding "Technical-Support".If we remember your all point so we will solve some technical problem ourself.Conclusion of all points is that if we save some important software & files so we will handle our computer easily.

Actually when we purchase a computer so this is also necessary that we will take all over information about Computer Support and Services because problem comes anytime & anywhere.

At last your blog is very nice & informative & i really recommand it.

crowleydj said...

Is there a simple way to organize an Excel spreadsheet so that the data collected in it will simply be able to be exported to ACT! by Dage (9.0) Version 9.0.1.162? I am talking about a couple hundred records that we purchase from time to time. It is rather time consuming to re-enter manually. Also, can we import these records into our "main" database but also make them part of a new group we would establish just for these contacts?

stetsc said...

I purchased a new computer running Windows XP pro. I used laplink to transfer my programs/files to my new computer. The program transfered, but says failed to open a connection to the database.

I followed all the steps to remove the SQL Server and could not delete the folder out of program files. It stated instapi.dll access denied.

I also browsed the cd for SQLINSTALL.exe and it is not listed under dependencies. I tried the SQLEXPR file. I still get the same message.

This computer is connected to a domain and the databases are shared and kept on the server.

Any step-by-step suggestions?

PMI