First Week Done: This is a Great Place to Work
“You survived your first week,” my boss said to me today as the end of the day approached. And I looked at her and said, “Is this as bad as it gets?”
My first week at my new job has been really good. I’m working for a company that is different from every other work experience that I have to date. I work for Laser App, a company that sells a piece of software that fill out forms for Brokers, Investors, and various other people who have a lot of paperwork to do in a day. At first I was nervous that it would be really boring working in their product support department, but I have been proven wrong on so many levels. My first week has been exciting, empowering, enlightening, and lot of other words too.
Let’s start with the Owner of the company. All 20+ employees work for one man who owns the whole outfit. On my third day this man made a passing comment to me about how the company will take time every month to have some kind of a get together to acknowledge birthdays and such. He looked at me and said, “Your birthday is September 12th, right?” And was right. He knows the name of every employee’s spouse (if they have one). And he treats his employees with respect. I have not run into a sing person yet who has not told me some story about how he has worked with them when ever life has thrown them a curve and needed time off or even small raises. He has two mottos: 1) Everyday try to find a way to make what we do a little better, and 2) Its my company, and I don’t’ care what other people think I’m going to take care of my employees.
Moving on to my Boss. The head of our Support Department has an interesting list of credentials. She once held a license to sell the same kind of securities and stuff our software was designed to help with, so she had a unique experience with the content of our work that none of the support people have. She also has a BA in Information Systems, as well as other academic credentials. She was once a Nun. And every day I come into work she is excited and energetic about what we do. She truly believes in our product, and will take any opportunity she can to impress on you how much of a time saver it is for these people who are making their living on weather or not they fill out a form correctly. And she if fun, understanding, calm on the phone even when the customer is upset, and she encourages each of her techs to not just give ideas but to help them blossom into things that actually happen in the organization.
The co-workers. My fellow support techs are really cool. They are a bit quarky, but they do not fit the stereo-typical geek profile because they actually have social skills. We spend the day talking trash about Windows, and how Microsoft is really exerting too much control over stuff. But one thing that no-one in my department has done yet is go off on how frustrating and stupid some of our users can be. Granted, we work with people who are generally more “intelligent” then the average person by virtue of the fact that they are either licensed (or being licensed) by state and federal agencies to do all kinds of complicated investing stuff. But that means they are really good at what they do, but sometimes not so good at figuring out computer issues. Since we offer free tech support, we end up talking to people who are very computer illiterate and can be frustrating. But (and I know its only been a week) I have never heard a single person hang up after a call, and go off about how retarded or stupid the customer is. In fact, the comment is usually something like “I’m glad they called, they feel so much better now.” Which brings me to the next cool thing about where I work.
The Application. The company has been around for 12 years. They have had 12 years to perfect and improve what their product does. Basically the need is this: If I am dealer who manages investments I’m locked into a certain group of investors I’m associated with, and therefore must use their forms to do all my business with. Well If I change associations, I have a new set of paperwork to use, and I have transition all of my clients over in order to continue to invest their money in the new association and make my commission (ie, my pay-check). Enter our application. A broker can buy our software, tell us what group he/she is associated with, and we will not only provide him with most of their forms, we provide them with the means of filling them out with just a few clicks. So a client who needs to have 7 forms (some with as many as 6 pages per form) filled out for each of their 300 clients, can simply select the client’s name from a database (our built in one or something else like Act or Goldmine), and from that database they fill out all the forms in a few minuets. They then call the client in to sign the forms and they are in business. Our boss started this company when he tried to do this same thing with 700 clients, it took him almost 3 years to completely transition all his clients over to the new association. He is about to do it again at the end of this year, and we’ve already proven it will take him 2 days to print out the files, and then he just has to wait for the clients to sign on the line. And the thing works. I’ve tried for 5 days now to break the beta that will come out soon, and I couldn’t do it. The thing is almost bullet proof, excepting the fact that windows get’s in the way of doing some advanced networking stuff for share information to other people on our network. I’ve never worked for a support desk that actually has a good product.
I predict I will be answering phones and in full swing by the end of next week. I have to learn two versions of the product right now, because the release of Windows Vista forced us to release our next version in beta till we work the bug out of Vista. I also have to learn what a lot these forms mean. Some of the companies we store forms for update their from ever week, others every quarter, and most only once a year or so. So I have to learn how the whole update server stuff works on the back end of things in order to make sure each customer has the most up-to-date forms for what they are doing. Its impressive, but a lot of stuff to jump into at once. I’m so excited!
So that’s that. I’m sure there will be more to come latter.