CARY –SAS, long a believer in customer support, service and incorporating feedback from its customers, took another step to improve customer outreach this week with the introduction of a new web site designed just for feedback.

The Customer Support Center is built around a new web site ( and will be the place for SAS users to get technical information, take online training, download software, examine sample code and much more, according to Mike Tindal, senior director of corporate communications.

SAS’ commitment to customer support is one reason why the firm enjoys a 95 percent annual license renewal rate among its customers.

The site will be introduced next week in Seattle at the 28th annual SAS users group meeting. More than 3,000 people are expected to attend.

Local Tech Wire asked Tindal to talk about the importance of the users group, known as SAS Users Group International or SUGI and the new web site.

What is the importance/significance to SAS of the users group meeting next week?

SUGI runs from March 30 to April 2nd and is the world’s largest gathering of SAS software professionals. The conference brings together the people who know SAS software best and who are among our biggest fans. These customers who work directly with our software come excited about the prospect of learning more and interacting with SAS employees and other SAS users.

SAS CEO Jim Goodnight will speak at the Opening Session where he will bring the audience up to date on key areas of focus for SAS and discuss industry trends and how those impact our users.

How has SAS benefited from these conferences before?

Our primary benefit is always the interaction with and feedback from our customers. This occurs through demos and workshops where SAS developers work one-on-one or in groups with our users. It occurs through the SAS Ballot, where users make recommendations for changes in our products, many of which do make it into the next version.

SUGI gives us an opportunity to let our users know what our goals are, and for them to share their knowledge and opinions to help us achieve them. It provides us with a forum for keeping them informed about our latest developments and providing them with opportunities to learn, network and have some fun in the process is crucial to our continuing success

How does the new web site fit in to SAS’ commitment to interacting with customers and reacting/using customer feedback?

The overall goal of our web presence is to focus on responding to the information needs of our customers and prospective customers. The new site and Web strategy reflect that. We’ve received input from site visitors, customers and partners, and have used this feedback to help us improve the site and ensure that it supports our key external audiences.

The revamped represents the second phase of the new corporate Web strategy. The first phase, rolled out in January, was the consolidation of all customer support-related content and resources into its own dedicated Web presence ( The SAS Customer Support Center Web site houses content provided by Technical Support, Development, Publications, Training and other groups at SAS that support customers. The creation of the Customer Support Center was a direct result of customer feedback.

This next step has been to enhance to truly meet the needs of our prospects, repeat customers, the press, analysts and others who come to our site. We want to help them learn about our company and our offerings and to do that in an environment that works for them.

So many companies make a sale, move on and forget. How much of SAS business is return business , and why work so hard to keep customers happy as I know SAS does?

We license our software on an annual basis, and enjoy a renewal rate of over 95 percent. With such a high rate, renewals account for the majority of our revenues each year, so it is imperative that we focus on keeping our customers happy. Each year they have the option of not renewing their licenses, but because our technology produces tangible results and provides a solid return on investment, few do.

How many people are expected to attend next week, and how many years have you been doing these events?

This is our 28th year of SUGI, and we’re expecting over 3,000 people. During the three-day gathering, attendees will be steeped in educational opportunities – more than 400 papers, presentations, hands-on demonstrations, keynote talks and workshops will highlight advanced technology and leading-edge strategies along with SAS’ latest offerings in data mining, analytics, financial management, business intelligence and more.


New site: