As you know, my company is in the feedback business. Normally these blogs are related to the art and science of 360-degree feedback...that's the hill I'm King of!
But this time I want to use the blog space to have a beef...give a bit of feedback of my own. The subject of my feedback is the social network for professionals: Linkedin.
I’ve been an avid user of Linkedin for several years, both with a personal account and a business page. I’ve successfully built up over 4300 1st Connections in that time and have several Endorsements and Recommendations kindly gifted by fellow members. However, right now I feel very angry towards them over a recent incident...what's more it’s not yet resolved even after several weeks. I think it’s worth sharing because, as well as getting some of this off my chest - dissipating some of my anger - I also believe this could happen to anyone and you need to be prepared.
The Crucial Mistake
About 5 weeks ago I received an email notification from Linkedin that someone was asking for my help with a client proposal. That someone was a known associate, a leadership development specialist, and I assumed that she wanted to include a 360 feedback implementation into her proposal – not an uncommon request. There was a link in her message to the proposal .pdf document, only the link failed to work. In hindsight I perhaps should have smelt a rat at that point, maybe called her even, but I naively carried on. I wrote a message back saying I couldn’t open the link and could she email it to me? I stupidly added my email address as it had been a while since we’d had contact. BIG MISTAKE!
The next thing I know, I’m inundated with emails and phone calls from other 1st Connections who had received the exact same message from me asking for help with a proposal on their Linkedin profiles. At least most of them had the sense to check it out with me verbally, although one or two had clicked on the link as I did and then responded to me through Linkedin. Those unfortunates were now experiencing the exact same drama as I was. Worse still, vital emails I had been expecting were no longer appearing in my Outlook Inbox. By this time I had contacted the associate that had kicked this off, only to find that she herself had been a victim of the same hack.
We agreed that we would both contact Linkedin support…and therein lies another story! If I ran this business the way they run theirs, despite the seemingly endless resources they must have, I wouldn’t have a business! Basically, there seems no way that you can ever get to a human being to talk through your issue. You have to access their web support page and after being presented time after time with answers to FAQs, you are finally given access to an interactive form where you can type your issue. Thereafter, they email you. I attempted to speed up the process by Tweeting their Help Twitter feed (which was very responsive) but guess what? They simply refer you to the online web support page, as I’d already done.
Responses from their web support page via email cannot be replied to (they use a NoReply address) and Linkedin took the step of suspending my account, presumably to head off any further damage. This felt like having a vital limb cut off! So it seemed I was in for a long and arduous process to get this put right. Because of the delays in responses (from both sides to be fair, myself as well) the whole resolution thing took weeks rather than hours to resolve. I’m not even sure if it has been fully sorted…access to my profile now seems to work ok on both desktop and my mobile phone Linkedin app but I seem to have lost over 2000 1st Connections. Maybe those Connections disconnected from me in protest! Just to rub salt in my wounds, in the middle of this Linkedin had no hesitation in taking my annual Premium membership fee by Direct Debit!
So Here’s my Feedback to Linkedin:
Put out a message to every member warning them of the danger.
Spend some of those outrageous profits and set up a 24/7 customer support team manned by humans. Make it obvious how to get in touch.
Ensure one Linkedin individual is assigned to a case like this and takes ownership of finding a solution. Make that person pro-active, with regular updates provided to the aggrieved member.
Aim for resolution within 24 hours.
My advice to any of you who may be active Linkedin members is to avoid falling into the same trap as I did. If the invitation looks too good to be true, then it probably is! I would encourage you to find a way of speaking to the Connection who has sent the invitation before doing anything else. If you are unfortunate enough to succumb to this hack, use the Linkedin Help Twitter feed (@LinkedinHelp) to speed things up and if you too are missing emails, check the RSS Feed folder – this is where they were going (apparently the hacker writes a ‘rule’ to send them there…you will need to get this rule professionally removed in my experience).
As someone once said of the future “…there will be you (the human being) and a dog. And a lot of computers. You are there simply to feed the dog. The dog is there to make sure you don’t touch any of the computer buttons.”!!
Take care, it’s a jungle out there!