Angie’s List: Beyond the Reviews
Tyler Munjas ’16 - Though I now am a true “List Lover,” I must admit that I was a tad skeptical at first about my decision to intern with the Indianapolis-based Angie’s List. Looking back five weeks ago to my first drive over, I had harnessed skepticism, nerves, and some doubt. My official title reads “Business Intelligence Intern” and I knew that I would be working with Data Analytics, but what could I possibly do for a company that runs solely off of consumer reviews? That question was the source of my skepticism. After meeting up with, and talking to my supervisor and fellow Fiji Brother, JP Patterson ’08, however, I began to see an Angie’s List that stretched far beyond just consumer reviews.
For example, one of my first projects was to work with “Band of Neighbors.” This new feature of Angie’s List divides members up into geographically defined neighborhoods, which is separate from, and at a far more local level than the traditional markets that members are placed when registering. Within their neighborhoods, members can post reviews, inquire about hyperlocal events, and communicate with those closest to them.
By developing an understanding of the underlying goals and missions of Angie’s List, I saw it not just as a business which provides its members with top rated service providers (the companies that are reviewed on Angie’s List), but also as a tool for these service providers to improve their daily operations through incentive programs. Service Providers cannot pay to be on Angie’s List, but once they meet certain criterion, which relies heavily on their consumer designated grade, they are able to pay to advertise on Angie’s List. The grade produced from their reviews also determines whether or not they show up at the top or bottom of the list when members search within their category. This is just one way that service providers are incentivized to perform and interact well with their customers.
Similar to the discounted offers of Groupon, Service Providers can also offer “Big Deals”. These deals offer discounted rates and prices on standard cleaning, remodeling, installing, etc., and can only be purchased through Angie’s List. However, only the top consumer rated and trusted service providers are allowed to offer Big Deals. Since these deals are to be purchased exclusively through our site, it allows us to monitor the service provider and their communication with our member. By controlling and monitoring all parts of the transaction, from the initial search to the payment of services, I’ve realized how dedicated Angie’s Lists is to improving the efficiency and quality of the businesses on the list. Not only does this represent Angie’s Lists flexibility and ability to successfully pivot their business strategies, but it also represents the dedication of its members, ensuring that they receive the best quality of service from any company they hire from the list.
As an intern for the Data Analytics team, I’ve become exposed to all of these unique facets. I learned how to write and understand code in MySQL, which is database software where all of Angie’s Lists’ data is stored in hundreds of different tables. When different departments need quantitative information on service providers or members, they contact the analysts who code the query, or request that pulls pieces of data from different tables to create a new table specific to that request. Having just taken Statistics and Econometrics where I worked with Stata, the data software used by the econ department, I am able to take some of what I had learned in the classroom and apply it to the different projects I am assigned. I would like to thank JP for giving me the opportunity to take on meaningful, actual work. Rather than sending me his coffee order, he sends me requests and projects that he is working on, and compares our results, guiding and teaching me through the best possible way; experience. Also, he contacted the Accounting and Finance department expressing my interest in their work, allowing me the opportunity to shadow them for this week. In true Wabash fashion, this internship has been nothing short of an exciting, valuable, and well-rounded experience.
Finally, I would like to take the last part of my blog to thank Wabash College for continually offering such opportunities. This is my 3rd internship through Wabash and the experiences I’ve had the pleasure of taking part in are an integral part of my professional development. Last but definitely not least, a huge THANK YOU is necessary for Lilly Endowment, Inc. for providing not just me, but also Angie’s List with this opportunity. Without the funding from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. this literally would not be possible.