By Qwertyxp2000 via Wikimedia Commons
Last week, I made a major career announcement; my partners and I launched the executive consultancy Brain+Trust Partners. We pulled all of the usual levers: press release, media and influencer briefings, blog posts, social network sharing, and profile updates.
As you would expect, one of those updates was on LinkedIn, what I’ve always considered to be the most adult-like of the social networks.
Now, when you update your position and company on LinkedIn, you have the option of showing this publicly, which means that your followers may see it. For example, my update would have appeared on your screen as “Scott has a new job! Now CEO and Co-Managing Partner of Brain+Trust Partners.”
Then, LinkedIn gives you three options, ostensibly to help you “stay in touch” with the person: like their update, message them, or skip the options. The “message” button then pre-populates a message balloon with “Congrats on the new role! I hope you’re doing well.” All very innocuous when you send only one of those to someone.
But imagine being on the other end of that messaging system and receiving literally hundreds of greetings that were carbon copy or only slight variations on “Congrats on the new role! I hope you’re doing well.”
That creates a culture of spam. It’s not that users are lazy; it’s that LinkedIn’s user interface has made it all too easy to take a shortcut that tries to be human, but ends up doing just the opposite.
So I wrote a letter to LinkedIn.
This may come as a shock, but I need to see other platforms. I’ve sneaked around on you before, yet I always return because you’ve been the most professional social network and I’ve blindly maintained a sense of loyalty. But I’m afraid I just can’t go on like this any longer.
You were always utilitarian in a way that served my needs perfectly: a repository for my online CV; through you, I could connect with other people I’ve met in real life; you allowed me to share links, join groups and even pen longer pieces.
But lately, you’ve let yourself go. Your new messaging interface is confusing. It’s all too easy to click on “Add Connections” when I’m trying to get to the dropdown “See invitations” from the notifications toolbar. And good Lord —those invitations! I have to hover over the little mail icon just to see the message, and since you no longer allow users to customize their connection requests, every single invitation begins with “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”
Every. Single. One.
Maybe there’s a way to customize that. If so, I haven’t found it on the mobile app. And the “slick” interface you’ve created on the web version on the “People You May Know” page is full of “Connect” buttons — which, when I click on them, shoot out a request without giving me the option to customize an invitation message.
That’s awfully inconsiderate and impersonal. And in this hyperconnected world where we’re all looking for contextual relevance, you’ve managed to remove it.
I would hope that at your age and maturity (not to mention your market cap), you’d be able to hire some UX designers that could give you the counseling and therapy that you so desperately need right now. If you do that, I know you’ll make some other lucky users very happy in the future. But for now, I need a break.
To be clear: it’s not me, it’s you.
Your user-centered design — or more commonly, your customer experience – is something you should constantly be improving upon. It’s common for firms to miss seemingly simple opportunities to address an issue because employees might not follow the same pathway as external customers.
Now more than ever your entire team, from executives to the front line, needs to personally experience the customer journey. Then you’ll be more prepared to have empathy for your customers and be in a position to improve business processes that can affect the bottom line.