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We’re sorry for our mistake

Nathan Barry, founder of Convertkit, released a public announcement stating that the platform’s change of name from Convertkit to Seva would not happen. You can read the announcement here.

The first two sentences are powerful: “We listened. We learned.”

This statement refers to the reason that caused their mistake: it was over-confidence.

The statement is not a mere description of the facts, followed by “We will correct our mistakes and do better next time.”

They explain how, after hearing customers’ concerns about the cultural and religious meaning of the word seva, about how people were upset because of the use of the word for a sacred practice to name a company, they decided to reconsider.

Interestingly enough, when it came to making a decision about what to do they went straight to their mission, to the story that they want to tell, the story that they proudly tell themselves and their customers about Convertkit.

Convertkit’s mission is to help creators from all backgrounds and cultures earn a living. If that is their mission, the conclusion is clear: you don’t move forward with Seva as a name.

Apologising implies being sorry, and if you can’t explicitly say what you’re sorry about your apology doesn’t feel authentic. That’s why Nathan Barry says in his final paragraph:

We’re sorry for the pain we caused by attempting to change our name to a word we didn’t fully understand. We’re also sorry for the frustration and confusion we caused for ConvertKit users and affiliates in the process.

With kindness and humility, onwards we go.

Something quite different from the last paragraphs of Mark Zuckerberg’s apology:

I started Facebook, and at the end of the day I’m responsible for what happens on our platform. I’m serious about doing what it takes to protect our community. While this specific issue involving Cambridge Analytica should no longer happen with new apps today, that doesn’t change what happened in the past. We will learn from this experience to secure our platform further and make our community safer for everyone going forward.

I want to thank all of you who continue to believe in our mission and work to build this community together. I know it takes longer to fix all these issues than we’d like, but I promise you we’ll work through this and build a better service over the long term.

When you’re telling a story, people don’t want just an apology and the reassurance that this will not happen again. They want to know how this mistake was related to your story and how you’re correcting your mistake from your story’s point of view.

The story we tell is not just a narrative to engage customers: it’s the reason we’re in business. When things go wrong it should be the first place you go to reconnect, repair and regain trust.



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