My first week working at Ask.com was also my first week working in any sort of corporate environment, so when I signed on to join Ask’s Customer Care team in Oakland, CA, I had no idea what to expect.
As a recent graduate with a B.A. in Psychology, my lack of experience in customer care and the corporate world at large left me wondering what Eric McKirdy, Manager of Global Customer Care at Ask, thought I could bring to the team. After my first week, I discovered that psychology, understanding how and why people behave, react and respond the way they do, has lent itself to my new job more than any prior training could have—which is exactly what Eric believed to be true when he hired me. Eric operates under the belief that rather than waiting for a user to file a complaint with our website, being proactive and interacting with users on a personal and one-to-one basis will create an overall more positive experience for each person that visits our website. This means getting rid of automated responses and instead, working individually with each person to understand how we can improve their experience. With thousands of people visiting the site every day, and with Eric’s unique approach, I understood why he considered a thorough understanding of behavioral psychology to be more valuable than prior experience in customer care.
I quickly learned to throw out all expectations I had of life in the corporate world. As I walked through the office, I discovered they were filled with bright pink inflatable unicorns, a life-sized chess board, and a kitchen filled with more snacks than I ever had in my own pantry. From the flexible dress code (“jeans and t-shirts if you’d like”) to the “take what you need” vacation policy, employee satisfaction seems to be one of the top priorities at Ask. The company policies emphasize the idea that people who are happy and excited to come to work each day are far more productive than those who feel restricted or micro-managed in the work that they do.
On my first official tour of the office, I was introduced to the company’s CEO Doug Leeds, who I’m sure had many (far more important) things to do. And yet, Doug took a few minutes to welcome me to the office and ask about my background, without giving any implication that he had somewhere else to be. Doug’s welcoming nature is the most consistent and striking aspect of my first week at Ask. Every coworker has offered me advice and encouragement, as well as a look inside the work that they do behind the scenes of the well-known Q&A website. As I am learning the ropes of my new job, I have found that I am surrounded by extremely intelligent and experienced coworkers who all have one thing in common—they are happy to be working at Ask.
Every day that passes is another day filled with new experiences for me—and I feel lucky to be joining Ask at a time when the company seems to have some exciting changes around the corner. I look forward to working with such a dynamic group of people, and will be sure to share more glimpses inside the unconventional headquarters at Ask.com!
- Amy Horowitz, Global Customer Care Technician, Ask.com