Why LinkedIn CEO Jeff ...


Dear Jeff,

I’m a huge fan of LinkedIn.

Your mashup of a digital Rolodex and content creation – both original and curated – has a certain business purity that appeals to the white-collar crowd.

Just last week I was singing your praises in sharing three LinkedIn hacks:

While the social media platform started as the darling of recruiters, it’s evolved into something much more, blending the attributes of social media with storytelling (content creation) and what amounts to a news service.

No question, your company is on a roll. People keep joining, you’re minting money with new services – hello sponsored updates – and investors like what they’re seeing.

But remember your chat with Fortune journalist Jessi Hempel when you compared running LinkedIn to launching a rocket?

“If you’re off by inches at launch, you will be off by miles in orbit.”

I think you’re about to end up off by miles in orbit.

Consider this recent experience with your customer support organization on Twitter.

For background, one of our clients is a city government which had an ex-employee establish a LinkedIn “business” profile under the city’s name without the city’s approval. The city had been trying for two years to get LinkedIn to remove the page when I took a shot at solving the stalemate.

tweet with LinkedIn Help 1

Yes, it’s more efficient to resolve customer issues through email dialogue, but at some point – two years? – shouldn’t there be an escalation procedure that “allows” the customer to talk this through with a human being?

Certainly, you can afford a couple call centers in Bangalore and Warsaw.

BTW, if having the customer rep sign off the tweet with her/his initials is supposed to engender warmth and a personal touch, you might want to rethink this in the training handbook.

Unfortunately, round #2 brings more of the same.

tweet with LinkedIn Help 2

I understand there’s no upside in the rep answering my question. My bad for trying to establish empathetic ground between the two of us.

What bothers me is the lack of initiative to solve the problem. The rep could have read through the two “tickets” and suggested which one had the greater likelihood of getting us to the finish line.

Then again, that would require more time.

Now the final exchange:

tweet with LinkedIn Help 3


The experience left me feeling part Don Quixote, part Franz Kafka (not a winning mix for a communications professional).

And the saga continues with no end in sight.

Given LinkedIn deals with millions of customers, it would be easy to discount my episode as “you’re never going to make everyone happy.” That’s how companies often treat consumers.

But your sweet spot lies with businesses and other organizations calling for more than check-the-box support. If you want to be the go-to social network for professionals as well as siphon off dollars from Facebook, you’ve got to nail this customer support issue.

Otherwise, you risk ending up lost in space.


  • Sherrie

    I totally get where you’re coming from. Sometimes terrible, half baked support is worse than no support at all. Have you tried going through their advertising/sales team? If you hook up with the City Govt’s rep, they might be more invested in helping get the problem solved (and then you can talk to a real person). More work for you to get in touch with that person than Support being able to do it, but if the reopening of the ticket doesn’t get you there…

  • Ruth Lever Kidson

    At least you got replies! A few weeks ago, finding no other way to do it, I tweeted an enquiry to what Twitter laughingly calls its @support thread. I’m still waiting for a reply!

    • hoffman

      I suppose, but I don’t exactly feel lucky. Ultimately, the outcome from the Twitter exchanges was to funnel me back into the same bureaucratic hell that failed two years ago. Given LinkedIn’s aspirations, I believe we’re eventually see the company rethink customer support for businesses. We’ll see.


Leave a Reply