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TMC Labs
January 2002

Respond CenterPoint

Respond, Inc.
88 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT 06897
Ph: 800-282-0676; Fx: 203-423-7901
Web site:

Price: 5 users - $15,000, 100 users -$200,000

RATINGS (0-'5)
Installation: 5
Documentation: 4.75
Features: 4.75
GUI: 4.5
Overall: A-

We all know that customer satisfaction is a cornerstone of customer loyalty, and that customer loyalty leads to greater corporate profitability. Especially now in our poor economy, companies across America are asking, how do we keep our customers loyal? How do we resolve customers' problems in a timely fashion? What metrics can we use to measure and track customer satisfaction?

Respond CenterPoint from Respond, Inc. provides answers to those questions. It is a centralized feedback management solution platform that captures and analyzes customer complaints and feedback to meet customer needs. One of the key features of Respond CenterPoint is its ability to collect and track information through any communications medium. Whether it's feedback letters, telephone conversations, faxes or e-mail, Respond CenterPoint will store this information in electronic format to log, monitor, analyze and respond (hence the company name).
Respond got its start in the healthcare industry where customer/patient feedback is extremely important. Today, Respond has a very strong presence in the healthcare industry and states that its product is the number one customer feedback solution in this vertical market. According to Respond, companies in the financial space have also recently shown interest in CenterPoint and have implemented the solution. Continuing to broaden its horizon, Respond has used the flexibility of the product to extend into the travel, automotive and sports industries.

Perhaps the most interesting example of how Respond CenterPoint has helped track customer complaints is its implementation for the New York Yankees. New York Stadium Operations staff wanted to implement a stadium-wide system to capture, track, analyze and resolve guest and fan feedback. Anyone who knows baseball knows that Yankees fans are the toughest crowd to please. Just tracking all the complaints about other rowdy fans, parking, the 'cattle tunnel,' the 6th inning last-call for alcohol, Jeffrey Maier in right field, not to mention the food, requires a comprehensive solution. Like most teams, the Yankees have an 'invite-back' program whereby fans who complain are extended a stadium tour or complimentary tickets. Using Respond CenterPoint, the New York Yankees can track repeat complainers and cheaters who are trying to get a freebie. All we can say is, 'Only in New York!'

Although we found Respond Center-Point to be quite flexible and fairly easy to setup, it was not intended as an 'out-of-the- box' turnkey solution. Thus, Respond offers professional services to design Respond CenterPoint to meet organizations' individual needs and business rules. Nevertheless, we did install CenterPoint onto a stand-alone Windows 98 PC along with the sample demo database, which uses the Microsoft Jet (Access) engine. Installation was a breeze, requiring a single CD and just a few simple mouse-clicks to complete the process. We were up and running in less than two minutes with the sample database. Of course, a true solution would require more time to integrate with a real customer database.

Incredibly, nearly 40 percent of the 'Using Respond' user manual is devoted to explaining how to execute reports and graphs/charts. This extensive amount of detail is important, since reporting on customer feedback is the very core of what Respond does. In the reporting section of the manual, several sample reports are demonstrated. We liked how Respond showed each sample report on the left-hand page and a corresponding screenshot of the appropriate report setup screen shown on the right-hand page. Unfortunately, the criteria on the report setup screenshot contained on the right-hand page doesn't exactly match the results of the report displayed on the left-hand page. For example, one report setup screen is called Complaint Movement and has the criteria set to 'Year to Date' and 'Show Data Every <Month>.' However, the resulting report on the opposite side actually shows data on a 'Weekly' (not monthly) basis. We found that most, if not all, of the resulting reporting didn't match the report setup screen, which may confuse users who are trying to figure out how the sample reports work.

Other than this minor complaint, we were quite pleased with the documentation, which explained the feature-set in an appropriate chronological order that made learning the product all the more easy.

Operational Testing
When you first install Respond there are five cards set up in the card file by default. These cards can be renamed, hidden (if not needed) or additional cards may be added. In addition, the fields available on each of the cards can be customized, including fields such as short text, long text, number, currency, date/time and yes/no fields. This extensive customization is a common theme we discovered during our tests of Respond.

We were able to quickly and easily add new 'feedback,' such as complaints, into the system. The system can also be set up to automatically follow-up with certain 'tasks,' such as follow-up phone calls to make sure customers are satisfied. The system is quite flexible in tracking customer feedback in that you can add individual notations to a single piece of feedback. For example, one piece of correspondence from a customer may say 'the product was faulty, your tech support was unhelpful and I was transferred five times to find the right person.' Each is considered a separate notation by CenterPoint and tied to the one correspondence. Thus, one customer feedback (via e-mail, phone, etc.) can have multiple notations and multiple activities tied to it.

CenterPoint has excellent security features, including the ability to lock out users from re-activating completed complaints or editing complaints with the status of 'Done.' Another security feature assigns users the capability to update, create or delete simply by checking the appropriate checkboxes. In fact, CenterPoint grants individual update, create and delete privileges to the Complaint, Contact, Aspect, Activity, Booking Info and Cost card files for greater flexibility. Furthermore, various security settings can be saved into separate security profiles, which provides the ability to apply a specific security profile to any individual user or group of users.

One of the core components of Center-Point is the 'tasks' feature. A 'task' is a specific action that must be completed by a set date, such as sending an acknowledgment letter within two days of receiving a complaint. Tasks are displayed on the Activity card and in the user's Diary. Users can be warned once they sign into the database that a pending task allocated to them is almost due or overdue. Once a task is overdue, it is marked with a red exclamation mark.

We should point out that you can set the working week via the Calendar GUI, which is used for performance analysis and calculating due dates. In addition, CenterPoint allows you to define 'aging periods' which are used to determine when tasks were completed, such as within 5 days (standard), between 6 and 7 days (aging period 1), between 8 and 10 days (aging period 2) or in 11 days or more (the remainder). Performance analysis charts and reports, critical to measuring complaint resolution time, can be generated based on these aging periods. 

CenterPoint has the capability to insert database merge fields into word processors to quickly generate letters, forms or any other written correspondence that can incorporate information from the current complaint record. By selecting a pre-defined template, you can quickly display the form letter in your word processor, print it automatically and even register this document in CenterPoint's Activity for future reference.

There are still more capabilities TMC Labs liked. For one, we liked the ability to attach any file type to a Note or Task. Second, we liked CenterPoint's powerful and easy-to-use nested condition builder for writing complex queries that even a novice can use. This query builder allows you to use parentheses to set order of operations. TMC Labs is familiar with many 'canned' software programs that don't allow this level of querying complexity, which then forces the user to write complex SQL queries, which generally only MIS/IT personnel know how to do. Third, we were extremely pleased with the canned reports that come with the package. For example, a sample report allows you to monitor employee resolution performance by observing employees' responsiveness. Finally, we found CenterPoint to be extremely customizable, including the GUI and the reporting functionality. Within the GUI we could show or hide card files, add or modify card files, resize various screen elements, set required fields to be a certain color and other GUI-related customizations.

One last point ' CenterPoint has several optional modules available. One interesting module is eFeedback, which is a Web site component to capture, manage and respond to customer feedback, 24-hours a day, with Web forms and e-mail that feed directly to your Respond CenterPoint database.

Room For Improvement
Although we found CenterPoint to be fairly intuitive, its usability could be improved. For instance, the program's GUI appears to be a bit dated, having more of a Windows 3.1 look to it than Windows 98/2000. The program could also use right-click functionality, for example, to complete a task. Another usability suggestion pertains to opening existing complaints. When we tried to find a complaint dated a few days earlier through the Open Complaint window, it wouldn't display. Eventually we figured out that the Date Filter was set to a range outside the complaint's date. Basically, within the Open Complaint window, the Date Filter says 'Complaint Receipt Date Between'' and then doesn't display the date range even though there clearly is room on the screen to display this information. Thus, we suggest Respond display the date range and not require the user to open the Date Range filter screen.

Finally, we found that adding a 'memorized contact' to a complaint was counter-intuitive. First, we had to click on the New button, then click on the Memorized Contact option. We first thought that when we clicked on New and then Memorized Contact we would be adding a new memorized contact. In fact, we were querying existing memorized contacts. We suggest a separate button called either 'Search' or 'Add Existing Memorized Contact' to the main Complaint window.

Respond CenterPoint does an excellent job of helping companies capture and analyze customer feedback, including complaints, service requests, inquiries and transactions. By capturing and analyzing customer feedback, companies will be better able to understand customers' needs, helping companies become better equipped to meet those customers' needs, which should lead to a satisfied and loyal customer base. That said, CenterPoint is not cheap, starting at $15,000. However, it is said that it costs 10 times more money to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing customer. With that in mind, combined with the current economic climate, retaining your existing customers has become even more essential, making CenterPoint a practical solution.

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