But Trust Is a Good Thing, Right?
When we set out to build VillageDAO, we did so specifically to deliver a decentralised customer success platform that would provide a scalable solution for Web3 brands looking to cater for their users’ needs. But why can’t Web3 brands just use the same customer success methodologies that have been tried and tested for so many years?
To address this question, we need to discuss trust and its implications: specifically, the burden of risk it places on the user of a product or service.
Outside decentralisation-focused Web3 communities, trust is far from being regarded as a problematic concept. Instead, it is almost universally recognised as a virtue with positive connotations: when someone is trustworthy, they are dependable and have integrity. We all invest tremendous amounts of effort and emotional energy into developing trust in our relationships. Trust is hard-won and valuable, and has proven vital in developing complex human societies. If restricted to building a society that consisted entirely of people we trusted personally, we’d likely remain in small bands of up to 150 people – Dunbar’s number – as was the case for much of humanity’s history.
When trust is abstracted from long-term interpersonal relationships and into interactions with strangers or acquaintances, a lack of trust can become an obstacle. In place of personal relationships, humans have been compelled to invent workarounds for this problem throughout history, effectively developing substitutes for trust. Think of handwritten signatures, tangible indicators of your acceptance of contracts – which are, themselves, one means of getting around lack of trust between unfamiliar parties. Banks are the archetypal example. You’re unlikely to entrust a stranger with your savings, but if that stranger works at a multinational institution backed by governments and used by many millions of other consumers, then you’re probably not going to think twice about entrusting them with your money. You are relatively safe in assuming they’re as good as their word.
But imagine that bank breaks your trust in their ability to manage your account responsibly: suddenly, the tables turn, and you’ll want to withdraw your funds at the earliest opportunity to avoid loss. In fact, it’s not a wildly different scenario that prompted the anonymous creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, to create the first blockchain. The causes of the global financial crisis that engulfed markets from 2008 convinced Satoshi that we need to stop placing trust in fallible institutions and organisations, and instead place it in immutable, decentralised blockchains. Where humans can act in self-interest, computers run exactly as programmed; where humans can lie and falsify, a blockchain is, on paper at least, an unalterable and constant source of truth.
Given that creating a trustless system is one of the founding principles of blockchain, many involved in the space regard addressing this trust problem as its raison d’être. With a society that leans more heavily into decentralisation via blockchain, we no longer have to trust that the organisation, person, or entity we’re dealing with will act as we expect them to. If actions and incentives are rooted in an immutable blockchain (and in the case of smart contract-enabled blockchains like Ethereum, the code that runs on them), we can safely assume that any entity will be unable to act inappropriately – or at least, the personal cost in energy inputs, time, and resources would be so high as to make it a lose-lose situation.
A Circle of Trust?
So how does this apply to VillageDAO? Well, as you’ll recall, one of our main objectives is to decentralise customer success. Receiving support from a stranger on the internet becomes valid and productive when you have appropriate mechanisms in place to eliminate the need for you, the Consumer, to place your trust in the Expert helping you.
For this system to function, each link in the chain – Consumers, Experts, and Brands – needs to be able to rely on the platform without necessarily knowing who the other entities are. Web3 brands need to leverage the services of many Experts (community members) who had hitherto been totally anonymous; a Consumer needs to be sure the Experts are acting in good faith, without having the interpersonal trust to know that they will.
The principal way we achieve this is by leveraging token incentives. For helping Consumers, Experts are rewarded from a pool supplied by the Brand. To break this down from the perspective of each party:
- Consumers do not need to trust the Expert advising them because Brands have authenticated the Expert to represent them, and an Expert’s rewards are related to how effectively they support Consumers on the platform. Poorly rated support and less activity equal lower rewards. Unsatisfactory or inappropriate behaviour leads to reward slashing, suspension, or even permanent expulsion.
- Experts do not need to trust that Brands will reward them for their services, since the Brand has already committed their reward pool to a smart contract that Experts can verify at any time. They can also be sure they will be rewarded fairly, according to transparent reward mechanisms.
Brands know that the reward pool they’ve provided will be handled as agreed, since auditable smart contracts are the only mechanisms which manage it. They can also trust that Expert reward and reputation systems will, as much as possible, prevent unsatisfactory interactions for their Consumers as Experts compete for higher percentages of the reward pool.
How Do I Find Out More About VillageDAO?
If you’re a web3 brand and you’re interested in using VillageDAO and the power of community to meet your customer success needs, please get in touch here.