A few years ago, an artist at an animation firm in California was working on a major project and called my cell phone after hours to talk about SpeedTree®. I asked why he was interested in our software and his response surprised me: “You answer the phone,” he said.

Help button on keyboardDoesn’t everyone answer the phone? I wondered.

Apparently not. The artist explained that they’d been using another virtual tree product for years and had been trying for more than a week to get help from the developer, to no avail.

It’s a strange irony, in this day of automated call handling, online FAQs, chat, email and forums, that any customer or prospect would go more than a few hours without getting the help they need, especially when they’re ready to make a purchase. But it seems to be a pretty common problem in our industry. Recently, someone posted this to a competitor’s forum: “I’m trying to send you money right now but don’t know how – please call me!” Did he ever get an answer? Hard to say, but if a customer has to post to your forum to get your attention, that’s probably not a good sign.

We’re not perfect at SpeedTree, but in more than 10 years of selling our 3D tree/vegetation technology, we have always striven to reply within 24 hours (and usually, much sooner) to any inquiry, whether it’s our biggest customer with a new order, someone with a complicated technical question, or a high school student asking for academic pricing. And through the years, as we’ve talked to customers at trade shows and industry events, we’ve gotten the sense our support has been appreciated.

So why do we do it – are we just trying to be nice? Well, sure. But it’s also good for business. That artist I mentioned in the first paragraph? Turns out he was working on a little film called Avatar. And the rest, as they say, is history.