We weren’t all that far into 2012 when we started talking about how we can better help the good people (like you) who use Ask’s products. As the primary customer support guy here at Ask, I attended several conferences and seminars all over the country that are focused solely on how companies can better provide users with not only support but with really positive brand experiences. Even though I gleaned an enormous amount of information, perhaps the most crystallizing moment for me came while watching an episode of “Thomas and Friends” with my two-year-old. Apparently, user experience was also a concern on the island of Sodor; in response to this came a proclamation from Sir Topham Hatt:

“That’s why Sodor needs a search and rescue center!

A proper place – and a proper space – to help people in trouble.”

A proper place and space is precisely what Ask didn’t have for our users a year ago today. We had some help information accessible, but judging by the correspondences I received on a daily basis, the information was not presented in a way that made sense to many people.    

So, we went back to the drawing board.

I am excited to share that last week, our new creation went live. We bid farewell to the old way of doing things and introduced the world to our new Help Center. Early feedback is very positive, and most people seem particularly excited about the following:

  • The Help Center is broken down into four major product areas, making it easy to go quickly to the help you need.
  • Help Center articles are short and sweet, with information presented clearly, simply and with as little technical jargon as possible.
  • If more help is needed, there are links to email me (Eric) directly on every page of the Help Center.

We took extra care to look at how industry-leading companies interact with their users, and how they provide assistance and technical support. We looked at the importance of the human element, and for that fine line when automation becomes too impersonal. And we tried to balance all of this with the fact that our 100 million monthly users include teenagers on their iPods as well as octogenarians on their computers. I even had my own grandmother involved in the user testing of our new Help Center.

Drop by and check it out! And yes, that photo you see on the main page is indeed yours truly. The folks who helped design our Help Center were pretty surprised that I wouldn’t use a stock photo and a fake name; but I personally stand behind this, and I’m proud to have my name on it. I hope it helps you get the most out of Ask.com.

- Eric McKirdy, Ask.com Customer Support