stressed male worker covering mouth with hand against gray background

For weeks I was looking for, and finally found an article of clothing, which I ordered online from a large, global, highly reputable brand’s website (note use of adjectives).

Waiting patiently for a couple of weeks for notification it shipped, I finally received an impersonal machine-generated email confirming that I had cancelled the order.

Me? Uh, not quite.

The next day I called the customer service number, expecting to receive some.

They admitted that although they had previously accepted my order, now that item was actually out of stock, unknown if or when they would get more, so they could not fill it. “I am sorry,” I heard lamely repeated a few times. Ineffective.

But while I had them on the phone, I perused the item online, and voila! that item was in stock (a modern miracle) and I could order it. I asked them to place the order for me but honor the same price as the now-cancelled one since the price of the item had gone up.

I was placed on hold to get price approval and–you know where this is going–the call was disconnected. Even though I had already given them my contact details including my phone number, once in the order, and once on this phone call, they never called me back. 29 minutes wasted and I had gotten no where!

The next day I started over again, was promised by the person on the other end of the phone that the price needed to be approved by the now-out-of-the-office supervisor and I would get a callback upon approval and yes, this time I reconfirmed they had my number).

Did he ever call me back? Nope. 36 more minutes wasted!

Now, loaded for bear, I called again the next day in try #3 for that elusive customer service. “Oh yes, that price was approved and will be honored, and the item was shipped out already,” I was told as if this was obvious and why was I upset? No evidence of any of this online, I asked for all this to be emailed to me. Promptly received, but the final insult is that the subject line of the email was “Appeasement refund.”

Appeasement? Was that the right word? Was that adjective needed?

In each stumble along the way, each empty promise, they sparked my disdain and distrust. But the crowning use of “appeasement” is a word I think is inappropriate in the context of customer retention.

One of the word’s definitions in Merriam-Webster online is “a policy of appeasing an enemy or potential aggressor by making concessions.” Perhaps accurate in cold fact but not in the squishy marketing spirit of customer satisfaction, and certainly not worth further teasing a disgusted repeat customer, don’t you think?

A “we’re sorry for your inconvenience” email costs them the same (nothing) as an appeasement one and would have been a better choice of words and net effect.

Proper use and selection of words have a philosophic economy all their own, in every customer service case.

The LinkedIn moral? Use words throughout wisely.

Select adjectives (and verbs) for your LinkedIn profile. It’s not that you said it, but how well you say it in your recommendations, your posts, your articles, and/or your comments to others with forethought and proper usage. Appropriate usage. Leave out inferences when they add nothing but disbelief, distrust, dissuasion, to “dis” the reader.

The promise of a great experience with you as trusted advisor, intelligent consultant, and/or dependable supplier is your brand. It’s the mental plus emotional impact they think and feel being referred to you, hiring you, later recall working with you, and want to repeat that process again.

Not that you appease them as in you tolerate them and try to throw cold water on them to cool them down from boiling over…

Make them warmly “feel the love.” No water provided on LinkedIn, just what they read.

It’s a long process to earn your brand and book business, so leverage LinkedIn intelligently to reinforce reliability, relatability, and relevance.

And it’s a short process to lose business opportunities forever for words poorly chosen.