March 9, 2012 by The Fuzzy Red Robe
Today, we’re going ultra old-school.
My mother raised me to be polite. And in the South, polite has a whole lot to do with a handwritten thank-you note. I was in my mid-40s when my mother passed away and until the very end, she’d call me after someone had done something special for me to ensure I’d sent out my “thank-yous.”
In this age of instant communication, personal notes often take the form of pixels on a computer screen. Even the time honored tradition of holiday cards seems to have become more “automated” with pre-printed signatures on cards and the obligatory photocopied family letter. In my house, this laundry list of yearly family accomplishments is fondly referred to as the “brag and gag” letter. But, once again, I digress.
Since correspondence relies heavily on convenience, there is something refreshing about a real honest-to-goodness handwritten note with an actual postage stamp on the envelope.
I’m not talking about this pre-printed crap in a typeface that is meant to fool you into thinking it might be handwritten. Seriously, is anyone EVER fooled by those? I didn’t think so. If you’re like me, those go straight into the recycle bin.
What I mean is a nice note card. Something substantial. With a deckle edge and perhaps a monogram or a tasteful embossing of the company logo.
Inside should be a few hand penned lines that lets the recipient know that you care enough about them and their business to a) address them by name and b) express your gratitude for their patronage in a personal way.
If you have a bricks and mortar business, keep a guest register near the cash register and gather names and mailing addresses of visitors. At the end of every week, send out a note to each patron either welcoming them for their first visit or thanking them for a purchase or just letting them know that you were glad to see them in your establishment.
If you operate via mail order, mail out a thank you note a day or two after the order ships.
This approach also works well for service industries or medical or dental practices. Think about it, you’d remember a plumber that fixed your leaky faucet AND sent you a note thanking you for the opportunity to do business. You might even recommend this plumber to your friends because he (or she) is competent and polite.
It is precisely because they are so rare, the handwritten note makes an impact.
I realize that this approach is not feasible for a business that has a high volume of customers/sales etc. However, for a smaller business/company, a handwritten note is an excellent way to stand out from the clutter and to cement those relationships you’ve begun to establish with customers in person and on social networking sites.