The Manual

I’m a technical writer. It gives me great satisfaction to create an elegant manual that will enable a customer to solve problems and operate their purchased software at its peak capacity. My manuals are free to all customers who purchase our product.

The catch? You have to read it.

Occasionally, a customer calls for help with a problem and the fix is, let’s say, on page seven. I could ask them, “Did you read the manual?”

If I did, the answer would always be the same. “I couldn’t find it” or “It’s not covered in the manual.” But you can’t do that.

Early on, I made the mistake of answering a customer’s cry for help with, “Did you look on page seven? It’s right there.” The customer was already frustrated—whether she read the manual or not.

Click. Dial tone.

Then she called my boss. Ahem, you only do that once. Time to enroll in Bedside Manners 101.
So when a customer calls and I perceive they never took the time to read the manual I wrote and could recite from memory, I refuse to take offense. I help them. I guide them through the process. At the end, I bring them to the manual and show them how to find the answer for themselves the next time.

Customer service is more than solving a problem, it’s also teaching. I spend extra time to help my customers to understand the product and manual. Because if you are successful and can solve your own problems by using the manual, you don’t need my help anymore and I’ve done my job.

God gave us a manual, too. The Bible. But instead of reading the Word of God and knowing it intimately, we skim through it in frustration or boredom—failing to find the answers we need. Then we complain to God or others, throw up our hands in defeat, or even worse, sit on the problem in silence until it gets uncontrollable and painful.

Our customer service skills can be just as bad. How can we expect to assist those who are spiritual newbies if we haven’t read—and understood—the Manual ourselves?

Our spiritual walk constantly shifts us back and forth between the status of student or teacher. At times, we end up being both. Ever been teaching and getting a download from the Father at the same time? So cool. But through it all, we need to understand our current status and act accordingly. And both require using The Manual.

As a teacher, your customer service skills can water a seed or kill it. If someone came to you for spiritual help—although you might like to—would you respond with a curt, “Did you even take the time to open your Bible and read it?”

No, you wouldn’t. With a gentle, loving heart, you would stop what you were doing, take the time to open The Manual with them, and show them what God says about that specific issue.

Jesus is the perfect example of this. Calm, loving, generous, and direct, He did everything in His Father’s power to help us. We need to be the same. When you hear that cry for help, apply love—and The Manual.

End of my customer service story—that frustrated customer that hung up on me is now one of the most knowledgeable customers I have. She could do my job. She doesn’t call with problems anymore, she calls just to say hi and tell me how much she appreciates the company I work for.

Job well done.

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