noun | ser·vice |
Definition of SERVICE
- the occupation or function of serving <in active service>
- employment as a servant <entered his service>
- the work performed by one that serves <good service>
- help, use, benefit <glad to be of service>
- contribution to the welfare of others
- disposal for use <I’m entirely at your service>
There are many different ways to view service, both in life and in Information Technology or Customer Service. My hope in this article is to explain my understanding of the concept of service and to define how Clucic Technology Services will put this concept into practice. For many who do not share my faith, this may feel out of place and a confusing meandering of disconnected thought. I will try to be clear and concise, but if you have any questions about what I have posted here please feel free to contact me directly at (937) 903-6890.
Life of Service
Many view their faith as something that begins Sunday morning and ends right after church lets out. Fortunately this is completely incorrect. There are two oft quoted passages of scripture that deal with the work of a servant and are used in relation to the employer/employee relationship, Colossians 3:23 and Ephesians 6:5-8. While both of these passages apply specifically to servants, I think this makes them even more compelling for those that choose to get into customer service. We will get into that later.
” 23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)
” 5Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.”
Ephesians 6:5-8 (NIV)
The Bible spends a lot of time on the ideas of service, the concept is core to the Christian faith. The way one approaches service can be used as a litmus test of faith. Service is not a requirement of salvation, but an evidence thereof. The whole idea of a Christian (one who is pursuing a life like Christ) is about serving others.
The life of Christ
The Son of God came to Earth to live among and more importantly serve his creation. This is a concept that I’ve spent my entire life trying to reason. I think it is often thought that Christ came for Christians, but when you examine the action, you find the opposite is true. Jesus came quite literally for the sinner, the unsaved, the non-Christian. If there was no sinner there was no reason for him to come. This means that he did not come for Christians, he came for the unsaved, the atheist, the heathen, the “bad guy”, the “I’ve lived a good life” person, the little white liar, the sinner.
Once you are saved the product of his coming and dying applies to you, but he no longer came for you, he came for who you were. Acceptance of his gift makes you blameless before God. As soon as you accepted his sacrifice, you no longer needed saving. You are saved. It’s done. Which means everything Jesus did while here, enduring the cross, separating from His Father; was done for people who are not believers in him. His whole life was an act for people who did nothing for him. This is complete service, an action performed (submitting to death) with no return, no service agreement that guarantees reimbursement or any such nonsense. He died for you, and if you never accept that gift, in your case, he died for nothing. Yet he did it willingly, knowing that many would in fact reject the gift.
The call of the cross
This action of Jesus (coming, dying, defeating death, offering the sacrifice freely) demands a response and in fact no matter what we do, we are in fact responding. If we accept, we gain eternity with God. Any other response, active rejection, doing nothing, etc. we give up that same eternity. For me, this call for a response can only be answered by accepting the gift freely given of Jesus’ life in place of mine. No part of me believes that I am good enough to earn eternity with the creator. So what does this mean? I accept Jesus as the Son of God, he was fully man and fully God. His calls to action are the calls of my creator and they must be heeded.
In Matthew 10:38 Jesus says that whoever does not take up their cross doesn’t deserve Him. What does this mean for me? It means that I must not simply be willing to give my life, but I (Dave) must in fact die. I must give up my personal identity. Not my will anymore, not my desire anymore, not my success anymore, but God’s will be done. So this has wide implications, but we are talking specifically about service. God’s will is that we place others first (Phil. 2:3) and that we love others (1 John 4:7).
” 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)
” 7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”
1 John 4:7 (NIV)
Evidence of faith
I’m and IT guy, what does this faith look like? Well it is not a secret, it’s not convoluted, do I place others first and show love to those I interact with? Honestly this is the biggest hurdle I have in starting my own IT business. The ways that I have put this into practice are as follows:
- I want my service offerings to be greater than the normal
- I want customers to get some service for free
- This is why we offer “Call IT” as a function of our service agreements.
- I want customers to have service staff that are aware of their systems before they pick up the phone
- I set rates in such a way that I can provide for my employees and am not simply setting rates to maximize profit
I see many IT companies bill time on each and every customer interaction and when thinking how to best serve customers, this was an untenable practice that felt wrong. We have a documentation structure in place and policies that employees must follow to ensure they are informed on the customers that they are expected to support. We do not have a “brick and mortar” location specifically to not offload unnecessary costs onto the customer.
There is one final verse that I use in measuring my behavior in relation to God’s will.
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Micah 6:8 (NIV)
Sales and Implementation
The command is to act justly, not to pursue it or enforce it, but to act with justice. In business one method of putting this into practice is to set your price to your service and not to your consumer. Another verse related to this concept is found in Proverbs.
“Differing weights and differing measures—the Lord detests them both.”
Proverbs 20:10 (NIV)
We have our prices set based on covering our costs with a fair profit to allow for the growth of staff and the company.
Service and Support
The agreement you enter into with your customer is that of servant. We have all heard the quote “the customer is always right” and often this is mocked in the world of technology as the person being served is using an IT guy as they DO NOT know what they are talking about. However I believe this is a dangerous dodge of a good idea. What is it the customer truly wants? They want their stuff to work and in this, they are always right. We made a commitment to provide them with functional technology and when we fail that test, the customer is right to request whatever repair is necessary. This is good service, and IT people often fail to provide it.
Now moving a step beyond this and applying Micah 6:8, we get to “love mercy” which really means loving people more that they deserve. We put this into practice by instructing our staff to always leave the site they are at better than they found it. It doesn’t matter what the reason for a visit, they should leave the site better that it was when they got there. From picking up some trash in the parking lot, to repairing some technology for the customer. Each customer interaction is an opportunity for us to go above and beyond the initial reason for our visit. This is not a revenue making opportunity, but an opportunity for us to practice loving our customers.
Billing and Invoicing
We walk with God humbly, God’s will is first and foremost. Getting paid is not the priority. While money is a requirement to continue in business together, it is not the driving force of why we are in business. I am here as His servant and by extension a servant of each and every one of my customers.
Thank you for taking the time to read this,
” 6Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”
1 John 2:6 (NIV)