Whether you realize it or not, your company is in two businesses: you sell your product, and you sell the experience of delivering that product.

In fact, your customer’s experience with you is just as important as the product you provide them.

Imagine you hired a company to build your home. After it’s complete, your friend comes over and says, “Your new home is beautiful! I’m looking for someone to build my next place. Who did you hire?”

You tell your friend about the experience working with the builders: they never mentioned the two week delay to install insulation, the roof wasn’t done by the deadline they promised, and you couldn’t get in touch with anyone unless you went down to the building site.

“The home is beautiful, but my experience was awful.”

Is that friend going to hire the same company to build their house?

Absolutely not.

The same thing happens in Scribe. If an Author works with us and their project is delayed multiple times and they have to call and email us repeatedly just to get a hold of someone, those missteps will spoil our relationship.

At that point, it won’t matter how great their book is, because they won’t be happy with the experience.

Flawless Relationships > Flawless Execution

I’ve built my entire career off forming amazing relationships. At Scribe, we’ve built our entire company around forming relationships with our Authors. That’s how we give them a great experience.

I’ll even take it a step further:

Flawless execution—in the process of writing a book with them and in the books themselves—doesn’t matter if it’s coupled with a half-assed relationship.

In that situation, your customers will leave.

But if you have half-assed execution with a flawless relationship, people will stay…and they’ll even recommend you to their friends.

I know this might seem confusing, but let me explain:

We had a scribe who made an inappropriate comment to an Author. The scribe said he hoped they got into a rhythm with their calls and writing schedule so he could get paid as soon as possible.

That comment was so appalling that I questioned how this scribe made it through our hiring process in the first place. The comment wasn’t focused on the Author and his Experience—it was focused on us. And that’s not right.

The first thing we did was call that Author. We immediately apologized for what happened, and let him know that we’d let his old scribe go, and we would connect him with a new scribe.

He said, “Man, you just made my day. The fact that you were in front of this problem is awesome. I really appreciate it.”

Now, because we value his experience and our relationship with him, we had already learned that his company did half of their business from June to August. It was late July when we called him, so we used our mistake as an OPPORTUNITY to build our relationship further.

“Tell you what. We know this is your busiest time of year. Let’s just pause your book. We’ll take this project back up in September when your busy time is over and we’ll go from there.”

He sounded astonished. “Man…we can do that?”

“Of course we can make that happen. Go focus on work. At the end of all this, we have to make sure we produce an incredible book for you—that’s what’s important here.”

After that interaction, he paused as planned, came back in September, and made an amazing book.

But JUST AS IMPORTANT as the fact that his book was great: he thought we were the greatest company he’d ever worked with.

That’s a perfect example of half-assed execution (the bad comment by the scribe) being totally moot because we gave the Author an amazing experience.

After our phone call, that Author gave us the benefit of the doubt. If we ever gave him half-assed execution again, he could trust us to rectify our mistakes with our excellent relationship.

Empathy Is the Name of the Game

Every email we send, phone call we make, and conversation we have with our Authors, we ask ourselves, “How would I respond if someone talked to me this way? What would my experience be?”

If one of our Authors goes “Missing In Action” during their process, we reach out to them. Sometimes their life outside of the book needs more attention. Sometimes—rarely, but sometimes—a bad experience with us causes them to go unresponsive.

Either way, losing touch with an Author mid-process is a bad situation for everyone.

That’s why when an Author goes MIA, we connect with them emotionally.

First, we pick up the phone and call them.

If they don’t answer that, we send them an email letting them know how concerned we are.

People open that email because the subject line alone shows that we care.

In the body of the email, we don’t mention anything about their book. We genuinely ask how they’re doing, punctuating the fact that we’re worried about them as a person.

It doesn’t work every time, but we almost always get people back on track that way.

Once again, by having genuine empathy for our Authors, we turn a potentially bad situation into a great experience. We use their disappearance as an opportunity to strengthen our relationship.

That’s how a flawless relationship can make up for half-assed execution.

I would give an example of flawless execution and a half-assed relationship, but we’ll never know what happens to those Authors.

They come out of our process with great books, but they never come back to us, and they never refer anyone to us. So we don’t hear from them.

We get so much word-of-mouth business that we know there aren’t many Authors with that experience. There are some, but we’ll never know who they are because they’re like the people with beautiful homes but a poor experience with the builder:

They enjoy the product, but the poor experience means they’ll never hire or refer the builder again.

If all you did was sell a product, it wouldn’t matter what you said to people or how good your relationships were. All that would matter are the products you sell them.

But experiences matter just as much as the products you sell, and those positive experiences wouldn’t be possible without the relationships you build.