Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The World Wide Web Operations of Operation World

In our day of the high-tech, low-touch world, we often rely on electronic means of communication because they are more convenient than placing a phone call. Once upon a time, if you wanted to speak with someone you either: picked up the phone, wrote a letter, or high tailed it over to the location of choice in order to speak face-to-face. These days are long gone, thus any improvements to the methods of electronic communication are welcomed with open arms. I am often amused by the many web pages that have a “contact us” option somewhere hidden obscurely on a 4th click page just underneath an unrelated ad. Then, the “contact us” button merely leads you to either a generic e-mail address to which you can pray that someone will indeed read the e-mail, process it, and respond to you before Haley’s comet arrives again. Thus, when I experienced the electronic form of REAL customer service yesterday, I was shocked to say the least.

One of my new favorite websites is Operation World (whose link appears to the right). This website, along with the links it provides, is a wealth of resources for any individual seeking to pray for the nations. While perusing said website yesterday, I noticed two things:

1. The links to the CIA World Fact Book were not working (the CIA has moved the links to another server), and
2. I was not able to search for country specific information, only the country of the day was available.
Normally, I would let both of these alone since I can only imagine the amount of time and effort it takes to maintain this website and since it has been such a great resource for me, I did not want to log a formal complaint. However, since the CIA links were not working, and the Operation World website has a specific section to “Help improve Operation World links for Web Sites” I thought I would cordially inform them of the non-working link. I also decided to send an e-mail to request if the possibility of searching for country-specific information would be available as well.

Here’s where the e-service comes in. Would you believe that within one hour I received THREE e-mails not only acknowledging my inquiries but also received direction and answers! I could not believe it. The first came in and said, “Thank you for letting us know about the links” (or something of that sort – I have since deleted it). OK, form letter I thought, but there was a specific individual’s signature tag, not just “Customer Service”. THEN, the second e-mail came from a gentlemen who forwarded my e-mail to two other individuals saying “Dear Jen/Jason, please get back to KC on this…thanks…blessings, Anjali.”

A few things to note:
1. He said “Dear…” This is not a common introduction anymore for many of us have been trained to be “formal” in our introductions therefore translating “Dear Jen,” (note the coma) to “Jen:” (not the absence of “Dear” and the replacement of a semicolon). This struck me as odd, but refreshingly odd to say the least.
2. I found it interesting that he used my name in the reply, not simply “this guy” or “customer” or some other impersonal title. When I saw my name, I felt like I was a part of the team, working together for a greater purpose. Given the nature of the website is to promote global prayer for the nations, this should not strike me as completely unheard of, but frankly, it is not often heard of. Personal touch goes a long way.
Then, about fifteen minutes later I received a lengthy reply from none other than the co-author of the book Operation World, Jason Mandryk himself! He informed me of the purpose of the website and offered a suggestion of where I might find some other useful information. (He recommended 24-7 Prayer.com which seems to be what I was looking for!) I was absolutely floored to think that individuals within an organization would take so kindly to responding to a virtually anonymous web inquiry. There is hope for the redemption of our high-tech culture yet! I tehn responded to jason’s e-mail with this,
"Thank you for an extraordinarily expedient response! Honestly, I do not think that I have ever received two personal responses from one general website inquiry! This just furthers my understanding that the folks at Operation World take their work seriously for the glory of God. Thank you for your commitment to excellence."
I would highly commend the Operation World website to you for your use. And, having been a first-hand witness to the organizations commitment to excellence and the glory of God, I will sure to continue to visit!

***It must be noted that I do own a copy of Operation World in book form that rests no more than three feet from me (even as I type now), but my laziness prevented me from opening the book when I desired to search on the internet. Maybe there is even hope for me.

No comments: