How to Handle a Blockchain Apology
Just like any other business, crypto companies can and will make mistakes or experience incidents where the blame — rightly or wrongly — falls on them. Apologies can be everything from good customer service to taking ownership over monumental mistakes; it can also be the difference between keeping or losing trust in the eye of the public.
Brendan Eich, CEO of the crypto-friendly open-source browser ‘Brave’ apologized in a Twitter post on behalf of the company for redirecting cryptocurrency companies’ URLs to affiliate links last year. On the other hand, Binance chose to publish an official apology on their company’s blog directly addressing EU and UK customers due to customer experience issues. Both are perfectly good blockchain apologies delivered in very different ways.
There are, of course, other ways that crypto companies have tried. In special circumstances, they have been known to issue an open letter, send out a press release, or even emailing members directly. Whichever vehicle you chose for your blockchain apology, the most important thing is sincerity.
6 Key Elements to Implement in Your Blockchain Apology
A study issued by Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business concluded that there are six key elements to a good apology. An apology is, of course, contextual but as the study’s lead author Roy Lewicki-Abramowitz said in an interview, you should have the best chance of success if you implement all six components in your blockchain apology:
1. Expression of regret — Be sincere in how the blockchain company feels about the mistake and the potential ramifications.
2. Explanation of what went wrong — Provide a detailed explanation of what went wrong and why.
3. Acknowledgment of responsibility — Take full responsibility for the mistake and the direct consequences. If you were a part of a bigger picture you should take ownership of your involvement (never blame the people affected).
4. Declaration of repentance — Acknowledge what you did wrong and how you will avoid it in the future. Commit to change and offer reassurance.
5. Offer of repair — Make it up to the people directly affected and/or take direct action.
6. Request for forgiveness — Be sincere in your wishes for your blockchain apology to be accepted and for a better relationship moving forward.
An apology should also come swiftly — best to throw up your hands and admit your mistake before angry users or community members pressure you into it.
As mentioned previously, above all, your apology should always be sincere, not contrived, and as close to your company values as possible.
For inspiration, we’ve published an apology in full here, from co-founder and CEO of Airbnb, Brian Chesky, who handled his apology beautifully after facing serious criticism regarding discrimination. The following was his open letter, published as a blog post:
“Dear Airbnb community,
At the heart of our mission is the idea that people are fundamentally good and every community is a place where you can belong. We don’t say this because it sounds nice. It’s the goal that everyone at Airbnb works towards every day – because we’ve all seen how when we live together, we better understand each other.
Discrimination is the opposite of belonging, and its existence on our platform jeopardizes this core mission. Bias and discrimination have no place on Airbnb, and we have zero tolerance for them. Unfortunately, we have been slow to address these problems, and for this I am sorry. I take responsibility for any pain or frustration this has caused members of our community. We will not only make this right; we will work to set an example that other companies can follow.
In June, we asked Laura Murphy, the former head of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington D.C. Legislative Office, to review every aspect of the Airbnb platform, and to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to fight bias and discrimination. Thanks to Laura’s leadership, today we’re releasing a report that outlines the results of that process. You can read the full report here but I’d like to highlight four changes that will impact the way our platform works:
Airbnb Community Commitment
Beginning November 1, everyone who uses Airbnb must agree to a stronger, more detailed nondiscrimination policy. We aren’t just asking you to check a box associated with a long legal document. We’re asking everyone to agree to something we’re calling the Airbnb Community Commitment, which says:
We believe that no matter who you are, where you are from, or where you travel, you should be able to belong in the Airbnb community. By joining this community, you commit to treat all fellow members of this community, regardless of race, religion, national origin, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age, with respect, and without judgment or bias.
We’ll be implementing a new policy called Open Doors. Starting October 1st, if a Guest anywhere in the world feels like they have been discriminated against in violation of our policy – in trying to book a listing, having a booking canceled, or in any other interaction with a host – we will find that Guest a similar place to stay if one is available on Airbnb, or if not, we will find them an alternative accommodation elsewhere. This program will also apply retroactively to any Guest who reported discrimination prior to today. All of these Guests will be offered booking assistance for their next trip.
We’ll increase the availability of Instant Book, which allows our hosts to offer their homes to be booked immediately without their prior approval of a specific guest. Instant Book makes booking easier for everyone, and our goal is to have 1 million listings bookable via Instant Book by January 1st, 2017.
We are working with experts on bias, including Dr. Robert Livingston of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Dr. Peter Glick of Lawrence University, to make anti-bias training available to our community, and will be publicly acknowledging those who complete it.
These steps are just the beginning, not the end, of our efforts to combat bias and discrimination.
While we as a company have been slow on this issue, I am now asking you the community to help us lead the way forward. Every time you make someone else feel like they belong, that person feels accepted and safe to be themselves. While this may sound like a small act of kindness, we are a community of millions of people strong. Imagine what we can do together.
Disclaimer: As a final word on this topic, I might warn that there may be potential ramifications to admitting guilt, e.g. apologizing. Ask for legal counsel if you feel like the issue calls for it. It can also be a good idea to have a professional read through your apology before sending it out for the world to see. This blog post does not constitute legal advice. With no insight into your company’s situation, I ask that you view this post as a casual and thought-provoking piece. With that said, I do try my best to fact-check and pull research from reliable sources.