I'm not sure what you mean by you've 'established simple communications with the manufacturer's settings'. Do you mean the all you've been able to do is run the VISA Configure Serial Port? If so, that does not communicate to anything except the serial port on your pc. Are you running one of the shipping examples that come with LabVIEW? If so, which one? For the Basic Serial Write and Read, it's important that you use the \r\n control codes in the string to write. There are the control codes for carriage return and line feed. Many instruments require one or another (or both) in order to process any command you send.
As long as you are able to communicate to the instrument with Hyperterminal, you can use LabVIEW to do the same thing. Besides, there is no way to automate Hyperterminal.