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Michael December 20, 2001 02:41

Customer relationship of a CFD company
For the enjoyment of the CFD community I would like to cite the answer I got when requesting a test license of a CFD code:

"Is it possible that you let me know your application? Why do you think you need CFD++? We prefer that you come out to California for a 3-day training before we can give you a three-month trial copy. I am not sure if this is logistically possible, but training is quite important; allows us to understand your application and you will be able to use/benchmark CFD++ in full capacity."

To get the point you should know that our company is located in Stuttgart/Germany.

I wonder how many cars Mercedes Benz would sell in the United States if the car dealer would ask his customer: What are your specific driving needs? Why do you think you need a car? A car is difficult to drive, so take a week off, fly 6000miles over the Atlantic, take a little training and drive around our factory. Then we will see if we can help you to spend your money.

P.Fonteijn December 20, 2001 08:52

Re: Customer relationship of a CFD company
I think they have lots of stocks of an air carrier (e.g. American Airlines) and thus encourage you to fly to California.


vedat akdag December 23, 2001 01:47

Re: Customer relationship of a CFD company
Dear Michael:

Unfortunately we have to ask these unnecessary questions to distinguish friendly from unfriendly. As you may have noticed the CFD software market is very competitive. We are a very small company with great technology. Unfortunately currently we have no representation in your "neck of the woods". I strongly believe we need to guard our technology a little more carefully.

By the way; your analogy regarding the Mercedes does not really apply to the software market. Nobody goes into a car dealer and asks to see if he can free test drive an overpriced sedan for two months. As you put it then say, "I will see if I want to spend my money afterwards". I am sure Mercedes would have harder time selling their cars.

We are more reasonably priced however. We are not as expensive as some and a whole lot reasonable and cheaper than most. But what really distinguishes ourselves from others is: "What we offer is a whole lot more accurate and faster CFD".


Vedat Akdag Director, New Business Development Metacomp Technologies

Michael December 24, 2001 07:27

Customer relationship of a CFD company
it is exactly this attidude that is so annoying. Unnecessary questions and the suspicion to be an unfriendly rascal. The customer as a heretic, who dares to question the superior mind of the developer.

The CFD market is not half as competitive as it seems. The mayor three are controlling practically all of the commercial market. Other codes can only survive in special application areas. With CFX on sale the situation might get even worse. It is the power of standards that pushes this monopolization. The official prices of these codes have now reached a level, where the use of CFD becomes uneconomical in many applications, except maybe for jet fighter designs. Not to mention the incompatibilities, unworkable models and tons of programming errors found in these codes.

This gives smaller companies a chance to promote their ideas, when they offer a realizable code, use standard interfaces and show a decent customer policy. For obvious reasons I don't know nothing about your code, but I got an impression about the latter.

StarCD claims to provide "... the most effective numerical strategies" Fluent "...sets the standard". CFX has "an impressive combination of the most advanced solver technologies". And you are "a lot more accurate and faster". What a wonderful CFD world with so many super codes on the market ! How stupid a user must be even to consider buying a code solely on these marketing promises ? And if a price is resonable is hard to see if you don't give any numbers.

It is understandable that you want to protect your technology, but an author who doesn't publish his work will not be read. You do not give any verifiable information about what is so precious in your code. It cannnot be that much, if the code can only be tested under conditions totally controlled by you.

In my opinion your company won't be very succesful if you do not rethink your business strategy.

Jonas Larsson December 24, 2001 18:59

Re: Customer relationship of a CFD company
I think that this response is very common - I've heard similar things from several other vendors myself, yet I work in a large CFD group in an aerospace company which should be a very attractive customer to any CFD vendor. I agree that it can be annoying and I've felt the same irritation as you do.

However, you have to be patient. My experience is that it is usually no problem to get an evaluation copy. You just have to take the time to answer their questions, explain to them how you will test their code, how you will share your results etc. and, of course, that you can't attend a long course far away.

Btw, why are you so reluctant to tell the vendor about your application? If you are serious about testing a new code it is essential that you have a very close dialoge with the vendor and get their help and support in using their code for your particular application.

Code vendors, for a good (commercial) reason, are usually very conserned that you will judge their code as "no good" because you don't know how to use it or because your application area is not suitable for their code.

Btw, CFD++ produced some very nice results in the recent AIAA Drag Prediction Workshop (see the news and announcement section here). We are evaluating CFD++ just now and so far we have got good support from them.

Michael December 25, 2001 02:53

Re: Customer relationship of a CFD company
After many years in the CFD business I known that asking these questions is the usual behaviour of CFD companies and I have no problem telling a vendor what kind of applications we have, yet of all the questions I had to answer to get test licenses, the proposal to come "to California for a 3-day training before we can give you a three-month trial copy" was the most absurd.

I think the CFD users should be less submissive and more confident in their needs and economic power. Than maybe the code vendor will fly over the atlantic to show in a three day period with a real life example what he can do for you.

Jonas Larsson December 25, 2001 05:08

Re: Customer relationship of a CFD company
Well, we've never been on any course to California and a Metacomp rep. from the US has visited us two times in Sweden ... If you take the time to discuss this more closely with the vendor I hope that you'll get a similar treatment. Or did they completely refuse to talk with you unless you come to California? Their wording was "we prefer", not "we demand", so it sounds as if they are open for a discussion. I agree that we shouldn't be submissive.

Michael December 25, 2001 08:03

Re: Customer relationship of a CFD company
Maybe my englich is not good enough to make a detailed text analysis of these E-Mails. But to come to an end to our discussion we might state that there are certain aspects in the behaviour of CFD companies, that are not completely satisfying for a potential customer.

If someone looks for new CFD software, writes a short Email to request a test license and gets an answer as cited in the beginning of this discussion, he has several ways to react. He can either explain his projects and discuss the open issues or he can shake his head and turn to another vendor.

Thats the freedom of choice, whatever reason a customer might have.

Fred Uckfield December 28, 2001 06:59

Re: Customer relationship of a CFD company
I once heard that the most dangerous thing for a commercial CFD company was an untrained user of their software.....


MBoyd January 3, 2002 20:07

Sounds like good customer service to me.
You know your problem. The vendor knows his software. It seems like a friendly exchange of information would be beneficial for both parties. Wouldn't it?

These sound like polite questions asked in an effort to be helpful. I call that good customer service. Maybe the vendor has other products that are better suited to your needs. Maybe the vendor knows of validation cases or upcoming developments that might be of interest to you. Maybe the vendor knows that his code is not a fit for your needs and will suggest that you don't bother with a lengthy and expensive evaluation... (I've seen it happen.)

Also, is it possible that the vendor didn't realize that you were 6,000 miles away when he suggested that you attend training in the US?

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