ARCS Update

At Marketing Systems Group, we believe that research is the key to any organization—product or service based—and we want to pursue creative solutions that help our customers to effectively and efficiently run their research projects. That is our core mission. As we pursue that mission, ARCS is evolving into something bigger and better. In this blog post, we want to give an update of the progress made and where we are heading.

Srinath Sankar, VP of Product Development puts it this way: “We’re looking to build a unified research operation platform that can help our customers to engage with their audience, collect insights, and manage the process as a whole. If you asked me ten years ago the definition of ARCS, I’d have said, it’s a panel management tool. Now we don’t see it that way. We want to cover as much of the research environment—the scope of recruitment, the administration of participants, the data collection piece, the management of people in the organization, governance and compliance, security tools, infrastructure, and more.”

We have designed ARCS to work within different contexts and multiple roles that our customers have to play. We are already known as a strong recruitment administration platform, and we help customers with their needs for compliance, security requirements, and consents. Now we are taking the platform into new regions to see how we can help you build research libraries, how to make process management better, and how to improve automation.

Communication framework

We have always felt that the communication framework is the core to the ARCS platform. We have taken strides towards improving audience engagement by partnering with Twilio. The result is a brand new product, ARCS Voice.

In the old ARCS, if you wanted to do a reminder call to participants, you would either do it manually or use our IVR system to make the call. Now you can accomplish the task with a simple web app; no infrastructure is required. Just log into the app, provide a script, and send the message across SMS.

Within ARCS Voice, you can create different projects and set up call flows and trigger different actions such as transfer call, play another message, and so on. You can also create and pull from call lists, control callbacks, and run reports.

Formerly, ARCS could send only outbound text messages to participants. Now we have a two-way street. You can receive inbound messages, and thanks to improved email queue handling, our smart priority queue feature can flag higher priority tasks and execute those critical actions in a timely manner.

We have also created an inbound message center within ARCS that permits various customizations. The message center can look for keywords present in the message and reply with a text or trigger a workflow. We are currently working on the ability to do text-based surveys in a more automated way using a bot or manual intervention, too.

You will see other improvements on the platform as well, including updated targeting tools, user experience improvements, new filtering and multi-value import features.

On the questionnaire side, we’ve made it even easier and faster to build questionnaires. We’ve added new command types such as ranking, and improved accessibility compliance.

In the security space, we have added native SAML support not just for the participant portal (which was already there) but on the administrative side.

As for recruitment, we’ve added support for time zone settings at the study level and location level.

On the participant side, we have added a feature where participants can now receive and iCAL or Calendar invite to add to their Google calendar, for instance.

The ARCS ecosystem

ARCS is maturing, evolving into a solution for research operations. At the core is the platform our customers have been using all along. Orbiting it is an ecosystem of products that take you beyond panel management, recruitment, and questionnaire building. Let us introduce you to these new products.

Atom

Atom is our insights engine product, our attempt to take insights and drive them into better understandings of how operations work. Access to more data, more reports, more dashboards—all of this is well and good—but you really want these insights to fuel better decision making and growth. Under the Atom umbrella we are introducing three tools. First, a friendly built-in bot to answer questions about ARCS, a self-service analytical module to give better control of data inside ARCS, and multiple partnership agreements to provide enriched data about your panelists: demographic, psychographic, behavioral, updated on a monthly basis.

ARCS Pay

ARCS Pay is our incentive distribution product. It handles rewards management and incentive management and distribution. It offers an improvement over legacy incentive management procedures. With ARCS Pay, you can incentivize any activity in monetary currencies or points—you decide on the right mix. The system can track both. On the distribution side, it lets you select a list of rewards vendors and allows your participants to redeem their own rewards. We have partnered with Tango to provide this piece, all integrated within the ARCS ecosystem in real time. Incentive management becomes an engagement tool now, because you can see what rewards are working and which are not. The setup is configurable, permitting you to try different scenarios. 

Olà a Visitor Management

Olà is our visitor management product, released a few months ago. Our goal was to help customers with in-flow traffic, compliance, quota tracking, and reporting. It includes a receptionist module to ease the check-in and no-show process. Kiosk check-in is available. Text-based check-in is there too. On the compliance side, it supports visitor badge printing, an NDA option, emergency evacuation lists, and audit reporting. On the administrative side there are dashboards and reports to track who is signing up, which quotas are filling and not, whether there are no shows, cancelations, etc.

Coming soon: ARCS cloud and ARCS Survey

ARCS Cloud is a portal for cloud customers.  On the horizon, you’ll be seeing an infrastructure upgrade for our cloud customers. Everything is getting updated: servers, hardware, software. There will be more endpoints across the country that will improve cloud-based performance across our customer base. We are looking to a third-party provider of a more flexible service on the delivery portal, which should improve user experience. Finally, we are working up a new version of ARCS Survey, which should be available by spring 2021. As you can see, we’ve been quite busy! Many of these improvements seen in ARCS stem directly from customer feedback. You have shared real world experiences and needs, and we have responded with more multi-faceted and powerful tools. If you’d like to see the newest enhancements in action, you can view a recorded webinar presented by Srinath Sankar.  And for more information, contact your Marketing Systems Group representative.

First Impressions Matter: How visitor management is improving the sign-in experience.

Let’s do a thought experiment. Think of all the companies you have visited in your career. Visualize the kinds of experiences you have had when you walk into the building. Did you feel welcomed? Was there a receptionist there to greet you? How often were you in a position of waiting while the receptionist was multitasking? Now visualize yourself as a visitor to your own company. Imagine being a customer, client, panelist, delivery person, temporary worker, or consultant. You walk in the front door. What happens next? Is your company delivering the ideal check-in experience?

The reception area is the gateway where first impressions are made. It is the point of entry where access is controlled and traffic directed. In other words, a well-managed visitor experience should be of vital concern for a lot of reasons.

Visitor management is a technological solution that systematizes the tracking of every person coming into your company.  In the old days, visitor management would be managed by means of a receptionist and simple sign-in sheet at the front desk. Maybe those sign-ins would wind up being tracked in a manually edited spreadsheet. These old school methods aren’t very efficient, however. It is hard to search the back logs, and assigning a front desk receptionist to be there for any visitors who may show up could be inefficient in a couple of ways. The receptionist might not be busy enough (too much downtime), or too preoccupied with other tasks that pull them away from the frontline duty of reception. Visitor management presents a more robust, consistent, and professional process for greeting visitors.

Tablet computers such as the iPad were the enabling technology that allowed visitor management systems to take off around 2013. Every year has seen increasing functionality. A visitor management system goes way beyond traditional sign-in functions. It can log visitors, make photo ID badges, handle NDA signatures, accept deliveries from couriers, send notifications when an expected visitor arrives, and permit employees to communicate with visitors.

Key benefits and advantages of visitor management

  • Better point of entry experience. Visitors feel more welcomed, better oriented, and safer.
  • Less haphazard, more professional and consistent.
  • Easier to track visitors for auditing and reporting purposes.
  • Affords more flexibility and productivity for front desk personnel.
  • Gives a “better look” to your company’s brand image.

Analyzing the need for better visitor management

We can break down the visitor experience and see how your current processes measure up against a digital visitor management experience. Ask yourself these questions:

When a visitor arrives, how long does it take to greet them?

Is the credentialing process handled in a consistent way? How easy is it to create visitor badges? Are the credentials customizable and clear?

Could the handling of legal requirements such as NDA’s be better handled? Are NDA signatures maintained in a secure fashion?

When a courier arrives, how long does it take to accept and record receipt of deliveries?

How practical and efficient is it to audit and track visitor logs?

Are site safety requirements accessible for visitors, especially contractors?

How efficiently are company personnel notified of visitor arrivals?  Would visitors have a better experience if they had the opportunity to perform check-in at a self-serve kiosk?

For all of the questions above, visitor management systems usually offer better answers. They can save time, increase flexibility, and enhance security and privacy, not to mention giving your company a “better look”.

Safe and Secure. Visitor management systems can provide improved access control too. They help to secure the facility from unwelcome intrusions, protect visitor and company privacy, and ensure regulatory compliance. Visitors can be matched against watch lists to keep criminals and black listed persons from gaining access. The system can also keep visitors and employees notified about evacuation plans and emergency notifications.

The most popular features of visitor management systems

  • Customizable check-in
  • Automated notifications
  • Two-way digital communication between employees and visitors
  • Streamlined legal and NDA agreements
  • Searchable and trackable visitor logs
  • Badge printing to enhance security

Olà

Marketing Systems Group recognizes the importance of visitor management, and we are excited to introduce you to our latest enhancement to the ARCS platform. It is called Olà powered by ARCS.

Now you can get the key features companies seek in a visitor management solution without having to maintain a separate system. The visitor management piece is integrated with the ARCS platform.

Olà supports customized branding, self-serve kiosk sign-ins, visitor badging with personalized data, NDA signatures at point of sign-in, tracking of arrivals, cancellations, and no shows. Quotas can be monitored in real time. A dashboard feature allows you to view visitor activity and access evacuation lists in case of emergency. Visitor logging is of course built-in, and it can include visitor demographics, contact information, and activity charts. Visitor activity can be accessed remotely 24/7 from mobile devices and web browsers through a centralized web-based management system.

For more information about Olà, contact your MSG representative today.

The Power of Conversation

Observers of the market research industry have been noticing a trend of late: researchers are acknowledging the limitations of large-scale surveys and are rediscovering the value of qualitative research, namely, real conversations with real people. Why?

That’s precisely the question, and also, the answer. “Why.” Quantitative research often has difficulty answering the “why?” questions. While it is true that much insight can be gained by analyzing big data, why not go directly to the source and talk to them? By interviewing and hearing people’s stories and insights, you can understand data better. Why do products sell? Why is growth not taking off? Why do preferences emerge for one brand and not another? Some answers are more readily gained by simply talking to people, then interpreting the results.

Continue reading “The Power of Conversation”

Quality Starts with Survey Design: Tips for Better Surveys

Marketing researchers are all facing two important challenges to data quality. First is the question of representativeness: with response rates plummeting, we need to make surveys shorter, more engaging, and easier for respondents to complete. Second is the issue of data accuracy: we must make sure that survey questions measure what we think they measure. Continue reading “Quality Starts with Survey Design: Tips for Better Surveys”

Smart Survey Design: 3 Forgotten Pain Points to Avoid

“Smart Survey Design” is a loose term (bordering on a catch-all) that you’ve probably heard pitched to you.  Maybe you have used it yourself when piecing together a study.

It’s not a hollow term, by any means. Smart design has advantages for both designers and respondents. Designing “smart” simply means maintaining data integrity, both in terms of capturing statistically relevant data as well as reducing the amount of bad data caused by poor survey takers (straight liners, short responders for OE’s, speeders, cheaters, etc.). Continue reading “Smart Survey Design: 3 Forgotten Pain Points to Avoid”

Why Volunteer?

The research industry needs volunteers. Here’s why you should consider playing a part.

Many of us here at MSG serve as active volunteer members of market and survey research industry organizations. It’s part of our company culture to get involved and make a difference. Recently, I attended back to back chapter events, and I began to reflect on the benefits of volunteering. Was it really worthwhile to devote my time to a local chapter organization? Continue reading “Why Volunteer?”

MSG in a Bottle

Welcome to our brand new blog for customers and industry observers. We’re calling it MSG in a Bottle, and I know you’re going to love following it.

One of the best things about my job as president of Marketing Systems Group is the opportunity to work with an inspiring, committed team of professionals. They constitute a brain trust of talent and experience. Their collective market research expertise and dedication to quality truly makes a difference across our entire product line — GENESYS® sampling system , PRO-T-S® dialer software and ARCS® all-in-one panel manager.

Since 1987, we’ve been delivering innovative solutions to the survey research community, and our staff continues to do amazing things, year over year.

I’m proud of these professionals. They are what make our products great. We learn from each other every day.

That’s all well and good for a company president, you might be saying, but what about me?

That’s why we’ve started this blog. We want you to benefit from the collective wisdom I see in action every day at MSG. I’ve asked this talented team of pros to share their insights and expertise with you.

At the MSG in a Bottle blog you will get our expert analysis of hot industry trends, stay informed with news on the survey research industry and the latest standards updates, learn how we’re positioning our products to meet customers’ needs, and get practical advice and tips on how best to use our products. Think of it as “news you can use.” Also, we hope to have some fun along the way, too. We want you to get to know us better. And we want to hear from you too. You’ll be able to join the discussion and share your feedback and suggestions via the comments section after each blog post.

I’m excited about this new channel for reaching our customers and the survey research community, and I’m confident that our media and marketing team will keep you up-to-date on the survey research industry topics that truly matter. We hope you’ll bookmark us and stop in frequently. New pieces will appear on a bi-monthly basis. Or better yet subscribe/follow us here, and never miss a new post when it arrives.

Thanks and happy reading,

Jerry Oberkofler