LinkedIn’s Inmail Credit – An Example for Other Businesses to Follow

I had recently written a post regarding unnecessary meddling in the Indian aviation sector by DGCA. A day after that Captain Gopinath wrote an article for the Economic Times which voiced similar concerns (albeit on a different tangent) on the sector too. Captain is a pioneer in the sector and I have a huge amount of respect and adulation for him (I have read his book, Simply Fly , twice and recommend it to any budding start-up as a book on winning against insurmountable odds in India) I sent him an Inmail to review my post and give his thoughts.
Being a busy man as he is, he may not have found the time to respond to the Inmail (I have my fingers crossed that he read the post J) , LinkedIn sent me an email stating that my Inmail credit that had been used to contact Captain Gopinath was hereby being returned and that I thought was – “Simply” Amazing! From my perspective, I am the one who wanted to reach out to someone I have a not direct connection with (yes Linkedin says I have a 3rd level connection with him, but that is just to flatter me), they gave me that opportunity to atleast have my voice reach him, he chose not to respond/missed my Inmail on account of not logging in, in the 7 days response time frame that LinkedIn has as a policy for InMails – which is absolutely his choice and they felt apologetic enough to refund the credit because the “intention” of using that credit wasn’t completely utilized.. I “simply” want to say – Wow! Kudos! Shabaash!
131112-LinkedInInMail-700x357
In a world where most businesses will hide their inability to complete a service (please don’t ask for a list, I’ll have to send you the yellow pages for the city you reside in) here is a public listed company that is taking the onus for a job that they couldn’t complete and refunding back what they took from me without a class action lawsuit (which would support the lawyer’s annual bonus).  I remember that back in the US when I had an account with Charles Schwab , they would refund my wiring fees because I had to call in to get the wire done as there was some glitch in using their online system to wire money, they would gladly charge and refund the wiring fee for calling in. With such a commitment to service there isn’t a doubt that these two companies hold such a dominant position in their markets.
This is an example for other companies to follow. If you don’t provide the service that you intended to, fess up and give your customers a credit back. If a booking is made for a hotel and the pool or gym is shutdown – refund to the customer (without haggling) a few hundred rupees that would have been input in the costing of his room based on him using the facility. Let me be clear, I am not advocating for those customers that choose to not use the facility even if it is available, but if it is not available – refund that portion (or give a dining credit) at check-in itself so that the customer is already ecstatic at your honesty (it is the best policy J) and is easy to please.
Another example would be that, if I choose to fly Air India (yes.. I “simply” do), a full service airline and they cannot reach on time or they give this food packet to me in the name of breakfast – kindly refund the money it would have cost to have given a real breakfast or refund the money on the extra taken due to your tardiness and for which my company paid a heftier price in booking through your airline.

This is the dinner on Air India.. Fit for the Maharaja of the skies?
This is the dinner on Air India.. Fit for the Maharaja of the skies?

Yes we aren’t in an Utopian world, but in my experience a policy wherein you own up to your mistakes and offer something back to the customer (it doesn’t have to be spectacular but don’t be cheap either) – they will appreciate you for your upfront honesty and they will choose you in the future (even if you were pricier) because they are sold on your commitment to get the job your customer intended (please mark this word – intention and not your own convoluted, contradictory and magnifying-glass-needed-to-read policy). They will appreciate you back and you will have a customer for life.
A start-up that ingrains this into their DNA from the very outset will go a very long way… that is “simply” a given (yes this will be the last time I will say “simply”)
Err.. okay that was the last time, I promise J
(I am requesting your comments on what other types of companies can institute this, how your company is instituting this (please don’t put up any ads advocating for your company – we will remove the comment) and whether you have seen or experienced this in dealing with a particular company. Please keep your comments anti-inflammatory and non-threatening to avoid being censured)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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8 Comments

  1. Very well articulated. Keep it up buddy. You have my best.

  2. Nice Post. I agree, “Intention + Sensitivity” is required. It is very simple to implement, only thing is required is “will”.
    Our irony is MKG gave the world customer service mantra and we don’t have will to imbibe it.
    “A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.”
    Simply my 0.2 cents.

    • Thank you Bhuvan… Excellent thoughts and an enriching perspective.

  3. Anirudh, I concur with the views and there are two aspects that I’d like to mention here –
    1) We talk about ‘Customer Delight’ very loosely based on what we offer, intend to offer and hope to offer. But rarely tie it with the plan that’s missing, the one that says – ‘I bought it but didn’t like the offer’.
    2) Life Time Value of a Customer.
    For me, the 2nd is an autopilot if the first is handled and handled well.
    Owning-up is essential and maybe today becoming more real, since Businesses are stepping out of symbolisms and are becoming increasingly ingrained within the community.
    With Social media, Businesses now operate increasingly with names than designations. Customer care interactions are with real people and not just auto responders and a very ’boutique’ business experience is shaping up fast.
    We are intent on this as a young startup ourselves. Amazon is the prime example of ‘putting customer first’ as also a big part of the Hospitality Industry. Getting clued into this very early is important.

    • Very well put Animesh.. The difference has to come from the very DNA with which an organization is built.

  4. Anirudh, Your write-up is an eye opener for the companies who fail to empathize the customers during /after the service or having the poor CRM policies .It is evident in your experience that a company can give an ‘Aaha moment’ to a customer even at the time they couldn’t provide enough service.
    I am reminded of my life incident in which my mother was wrongly diagnosed as appendicitis by our family doctor and she had undergone surgery for the same .Then after a day, out of her serious condition we were told that she was wrongly diagnosed and operated .With God’s grace she is fine now. I am still worrying about the patients who are left with less information or no information about their sickness and the hospitals are not having any guilt with their faults.

    • You hit a nerve with your comment Sharmila.
      It reminds me of the time when I was selling energy contacts in the US. If the coldcalled customer was on a good deal I’d appreciate his excellent decision and then even advice him to not cancel that contract no matter who came to their door.
      The customer would appreciate the gesture and the next time their contract was up… You can be assured they would call you up for your offer!!!


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