Making a List, Checking it Twice

It’s the time of the year when everyone is making lists. From errands to shopping, if your to-do list is anything like mine, then it’s probably quite long. But — while lists are an effective way of organizing and planning — being able to access all of your information from an easily manageable central repository makes lists even more useful.

And, as a feature of our Engage platform, Contact Manager more than meets your list-making needs.

If you aren’t using Contact Manager, then you should begin because lists are a huge time saver. Not only can you send surveys to all of your contacts, selected contacts or random contacts, but just like your personal address book or rotary file, you can also add particular details to each contact.

And if you already have a contact list in Excel, no problem. Simply upload the file, and let our system do all of the work.

Once you have created your lists, make sure you periodically update them. The system will rate each of your lists based on their quantity (the number of contacts) and quality (active, bounced or unsubscribed addresses). This system allows you to easily edit or remove any outdated or unnecessary information.

With a clean and up-to-date list, you can tackle your next survey launch with the same ease and organization as Little Saint Nick!

Share the Wealth

My team members and I are big fans of the music streaming service Spotify. We’re always sending each other new songs or building playlists together. This is because Spotify makes it easy for users to find and share exciting music — both new and old.

Like Spotify, our Engage platform has a number of innovative features that make it easy for our users to share and collaborate with friends, colleagues and supervisors. You can email one of our dazzling reports, as well as post a link to it on your Facebook and Twitter pages. Sharing reports is a great way to keep team members up to date on the progress of your survey responses because they can view data and statistics in real time.

In addition to these features, you can also give your users a high-level overview of your results by posting charts on your account page. This is a great way to display demographic information such as age range and residency, among others.

The built-in sharing functionality of our platform increases workplace efficiency, productivity and collaboration, while promoting transparency and trust among customers and clients. Creating a culture around information sharing empowers decision-making based on verifiable results.

So what are you waiting for? Don’t just use our platform to design, distribute and analyze your surveys; use it to share the wealth!

In Defense of Training

After being immersed in enhancing our company’s training program over the past few months, it occurred to me that there might be some disagreement among employees about the value of training and its applications. I’ve also seen this with clients who sometimes miss the importance of completing a comprehensive training program. While this can stem from a management philosophy that believes long-term productivity and efficiency is less important than the short-term completion of tasks, building a sustainable business, especially one that employs complex technology, requires personnel to have a certain level of proficiency with the software.

As I understand it, training serves two primary purposes:

Building Better Employees

At Zarca Interactive, our technical training program is strong, and it produces employees who are capable of addressing platform issues and who are comfortable teaching others to use the platform in a way that best suits their needs. Through on-site or virtual training, we try to instill the same level of competency with our heavy-use clients, as this reduces the number of individuals who must frequently rely on others to perform basic system tasks. Training also increases your company’s capacity by ensuring that employees have comprehensive skillsets, enabling them to switch tasks when necessary.

Improving Performance and Retention Rates

A competently trained employee is a confident, more satisfied employee. Thoroughly preparing new workers for their responsibilities creates a sense of reciprocal investment, which deepens loyalty between employee and employer. A supportive workplace, where people feel appreciated, is integral to a team’s accomplishments.

Although it may mean holding off on assigning work to a new hire, in the end, a skilled employee can increase your company’s productivity by providing valuable insights into processes or positing creative solutions to lingering challenges.

In short, don’t skimp on training!

Handle with Care

With the ongoing revelations about the NSA’s vast surveillance program, this is a good time to discuss how to strike the right balance between data collection and privacy.

Zarca Interactive is first and foremost a data collection tool. Many of you use our platform to learn valuable information about your target audience in order to make smart business choices. And while data empowers your critical decision-making, it’s vitally important to respect the privacy of your respondents.

The Engage platform not only gives you the tools to obtain information, but it also allows you to safeguard your participants’ privacy. For instance, did you know that it’s possible to create an anonymous survey that keeps all responses strictly confidential? This is just one way you can make your participants feel more comfortable answering sensitive questions with absolute honesty.

On our end, Zarca Interactive guarantees complete privacy for all our clients. We understand that the data you collect is yours, not ours. And we never sell any information about you to third parties.

While the debate about the limits of privacy versus security rages on, ultimately it’s our mission to respect your privacy, while giving you the tools to ensure data integrity, actionable results and consumer confidence.

Let’s Settle This

I remember a time in AP U.S. History when Lake — my only classmate who could grow a beard — decided to survey the class on whether or not he should shave it. Everyone chimed in — shave it, don’t shave it or make it into a crazy design. In Zarca terms, he conducted a public survey using a radio button question with an “other” option.

Since I work at a survey company, I tend to think about surveys more than most people. And, like Lake, I know that surveys are powerful and valuable, no matter how they’re being used. In my office, we use surveys to settle just about anything.


We take the awkwardness out of remembering if our colleagues prefer brownies, cake or ice-cream cake by sending a survey to new team members. After all, it would be quite embarrassing to get an ice-cream cake for someone who is lactose intolerant.

Naming Spaces

After repurposing some office space, we decided to name the new work area.* Instead of lengthy debates and potential conflicts, we conducted a survey to narrow down the potential names and another one to pick a winner.

*This post is proudly brought to you from “The Lab.”


During our Chili Cook-Off, team members taste-tested eight different types of chili. The winners were chosen via a survey that utilized unique URLs, anonymity and a ranking question. No ballot-box stuffing allowed!

General Debates

When colleagues can’t seem to agree on wall art, who makes the best music or where to have lunch, we use surveys to settle things fairly.

Surveying is a powerful way to acquire and disseminate information. And there’s nothing wrong with using our Engage platform to have a little fun, too. When you want reliable data — no matter what that data is — surveys or polls are the way to go!

The Unteachables

By:  Joanna Zimmerman

The Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce recently released a report titled “Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020,” which discusses job growth by industry and occupation, while providing projections for both areas. Curious about the most sought after skills in high-growth, high-wage and high-demand occupations, the report piqued my interest.

According to the report, the top two skills are active listening and speaking, respectively. This is both shocking and not too surprising. Most of us have been honing these skills since our earliest social interactions — skills for which we rarely receive formal training. And these “unteachable” abilities are the most valued in high-growth and high-wage industries.

Much — if not all — of my job as a trainer and Client Services Representative is hearing problems and providing solutions. Whether this solution is spoken or written, having the facility to convey information in an easily understandable manner is essential to my role.

But, when all the talking is done, what am I hearing?

For people who must do much of the talking, it’s easy to forget to provide your audience with an opportunity to respond and react to the information being provided. I must remind myself to ask my trainees what they feel is or isn’t working so that I can become a better trainer.

Hearing this type of feedback doesn’t mean you agree with every suggestion. But simply providing your colleagues with this opportunity will make you more sought after and more valued in your professional relationships.

Put Your Sunscreen On

I recently attended my little sister’s modest college graduation. Given the short ceremony, the speakers were still able to elicit a few tears among the assembled. As a fan of a good graduation speech, I appreciated much of what they said. During a later discussion of the afternoon’s events, the classic “Sunscreen” speech came up.

Why sunscreen? Well, because it works.

I’ve always loved the staccato rhythm of this speech. But, more importantly, I love its simplicity and the author’s focus on what matters in life. It’s powerful because — like the best advice — the words teach you how to take care of yourself and the people around you.

In that vein, here are a few takeaways from a Forbes article that posits some commandments for professional life. While it specifically addresses leaders, I believe these suggestions also apply to would-be leaders. Think of it as a graduation speech for the corporate world.

According to the article, leaders should:

  1. Take care of their employees
  2. Empower their people
  3. Eliminate negative politics in their organizations
  4. Be trustworthy
  5. Recognize their people

This mirrors much of what we intuitively know. If you show loyalty and compassion to others, you’ll receive the same in kind. So — whether in your personal or professional life — always remember to take stock of the good things, take care of your people and plan for the future.

And don’t forget your sunscreen.

The Little Things

By Craig Messenger

Sometimes it’s easy to become caught up in large, overarching projects at work and neglect important priorities at home. We spend so much of our time working to achieve everything we want in life, it’s easy to forget about the little things.

Yes, the little things.

At work, our projects or goals are composed of smaller responsibilities. And, many times, our ambition may get the better of us. As a result, we forget that sometimes the journey is what gives us the greatest pleasure. Each new skill we learn — no matter how small — not only helps us work toward larger accomplishments, but also gives us a stronger professional foundation to stand on.

Outside of work, we should cherish the time with our friends and family or just learn to enjoy quiet time alone. These moments help build a stronger personal foundation that will sustain us during challenging situations and bolster us during happier moments. Cherishing the people around us is important to maintaining a healthy work/life balance and provides a necessary reprieve from the (sometimes) tough slog up the professional ladder.

Whether at the office or at home, it’s important to maintain proper perspective. Focusing on the little things ensures that we won’t become overwhelmed by big projects at work and allows us to properly recharge our batteries at home.

A Strong Defense . . .

While it’s easy to defend something you know well, it’s tougher to mount a vigorous defense of something with which you’re not familiar. But with a solid knowledge base, not only can you articulately defend your position, you can also better assimilate new knowledge that advances a fierce conversation towards a solution.

Recently, a client contacted us about a glitch with her survey launch. Panicked, she blamed the mishap on our system. But I was confident the issue wasn’t inherent to our system but was instead caused by user error.

As we continued our discussion, I discovered a major part of the problem: too many cooks in the kitchen. Although our platform allows survey administrators to create and assign user subaccounts, those administrators must also set user permissions and monitor sub-user activity. In this case, multiple individuals had access to this account; unfortunately, however, they weren’t communicating with each other.

As our conversation progressed, I also learned our client was receiving a high number of email bounce backs. I got a sense the Email Relay settings were causing this problem — and, sure enough, these settings were activated.

When Email Relay is on, we’re not able to provide tracking information as the emails are being routed through the client’s server. While the client wasn’t sure who had changed these settings, she was happy we found a resolution.

My thorough training allows me to listen intently and ask the right questions. Rather than become defensive, I work with our clients to find solutions.

As I’ve learned, knowing your subject matter is key to helping all of us manage the insecurities that make people defensive, empowering us to provide the highest quality customer service.

Because Time is Precious

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” Frodo said. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring)

Problems often don’t conform to our timetables. Rather, they arise at unexpected times and during inconvenient situations. Zarca Interactive has clients across the country, so it’s important for us to be available whenever they need us. Because unsolved problems sap one of your most precious resources — time — we’re happy to offer night support until 8:00 p.m. EST.

The Support Team’s job is to get you through those rough patches and answer any questions about our comprehensive and feature-rich Engage platform. Never hesitate to give us a call; we are the Sam to your Frodo, always willing to help save what is most precious to you.

Depending on the size of your project, you may need either a lot of help or just a little help. Don’t let that determine whether or not you reach out to support. If it matters to you, it definitely matters to us. Besides, it can’t be as difficult as casting The One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom, right?