Founded in 1879 as both a museum and a school, the Art Institute of Chicago has a visionary purpose to acquire and exhibit art of all kinds and to conduct programs of education. The collection encompasses more than 5,000 years of human expression from cultures around the world, and within the next decade a new complex will continue this process of growth.
Benefits of membership include member appreciation days, shopping discounts,
exhibition previews, reciprocal membership to other museums, private
viewings, curator breakfasts and lunches, art walks, access to artists and
Apart from the above benefits, the Art Institute of Chicago also maintains a
lounge in the museum with comfortable seating in a relaxed setting. Here,
members can enjoy a complimentary beverage, read art publications, view a
member-only exhibit, and receive assistance with membership matters.
As part of the museum's expansion, the Member Relations team began to
evaluate their membership benefits offering. Realizing there was a need for
additional membership data, specifically about the Member Lounge, the
membership team decided to gather feedback on usage and perceived value.
“We felt it was time to gather reliable data on the frequency of visitors to
the lounge, why they were visiting, any problems they may have experienced,
how valuable they perceived the lounge, and how likely they would be to
recommend becoming a member based on access to the Member Lounge”, recalls
Michael Heisler, Member Relations Supervisor.
Zarca Interactive's solution enabled the Art Institute of Chicago to quickly
design and deploy effective online surveys. On the back-end, Member
Relations staff ran advanced analytics and uncovered key attitudinal trends.
The positive perceptions gleaned from their panel helped management
understand key member needs to help strengthen the Member Lounge experience
and promote it as a membership benefit.
Members Voice Satisfaction
Over a three month period, survey administrators collected responses from
over 700 members on several critical issues. To garner the freshest
perceptions, surveys were administered to members during their Member Lounge
visit using a paper survey. Volunteers then imported the data into Zarca's
flexible platform that supports multiple survey modes (e.g. paper, phone,
Initial results showed that a strong portion of members view the lounge as a
valuable component of their membership benefits package. Equally, almost
half of members surveyed indicated they frequented the lounge every single
time they visited the museum.
Correspondingly, almost no respondents at all indicated they had a bad
experience during the time they spent at the lounge.
“These encouraging figures reaffirmed the high standard of service that the
museum strives to present members”, says Michael.
Another telling statistic revealed that three quarters of survey
participants would urge their friends and family to become an Art Institute
of Chicago member based on access to the Member Lounge.
Michael explains, “While this positive feedback depends partly on the value
placed on the benefits package as a whole, it still shows that members
perceive their total experience as valuable enough to persuade their friends
and family to join our organization.”
The findings also confirmed there was a sizeable portion of members who said
an important reason they come to the lounge is for the reading materials.
Management used this insight to back a decision to add more materials and
stay increasingly current with new editions and volumes of various art
Based on the overwhelmingly positive data, the Member Relations management
realized what services and qualities of the Lounge were most critical in
supporting increased member satisfaction. They also became aware of some
improvements that could be made to ensure high levels of satisfaction moving
Outcome of Member Surveys
Utilizing Zarca's one-stop-shop online survey solution, the Art Institute of
Chicago was able to create a constructive dialogue with their members.
The Member Relations team will also be creating a brochure for members that
relays the survey's convincing feedback, describes the Member Lounge
purpose, and addresses frequently asked questions gleaned from the survey's
As part of year-to-year study, Member Relations staff will continue to
administer this survey to analyze data from a longitudinal perspective, and
to identify growth points and other trends among member perceptions.