Too Busy to Write a Thank-You Note?


No one is ever too important or too busy to send a written “thank you” in a thank-you card! Yet, I am continually surprised at how few thank-you notes are sent these days.  Sure you can go the free and easy route using email with a thank-you image, Facebook messages or Bitmojis, but these options don’t display the personal handwriting that expresses the warm intention, the time it took to select and purchase that distinctive card along with the cost of the almighty stamp. When someone spends both time and money to select and send a special thank-you card, it shows the sender’s heart.

In this day of “high tech,” the writing of thank-you notes seems the most nearly effortless means to attain the “high touch” we so dearly need as balance. The handwritten thank-you note is a modest action that not only shares a sentiment of gratitude, but also equally engages its sender as it reinforces kind or helpful actions. It does not matter who we are or how small the action or services, we all appreciate acknowledgment for our efforts.

A while back I returned from a business trip to Kansas where I delivered a customized training program to a large, multi-location accounting firm. The topic I addressed was client service, developing the “personal touch.”

During the sessions I introduced what I believed to be a rather obvious possibility, using the firm’s own attractive, personalized note cards to acknowledge clients and others.  Over 50% of this large staff was unaware of the availability of the cards!  I suggested that at the end of each day each employee review their conversations with clients and write thank-you notes where indicated.  Starting with a comment that shows your gratitude and enthusiasm would demonstrate that the needs and concerns of the client had been duly noted, understood and appreciated.  Isn’t this what active listening means—truly hearing what a person is saying? A thank-you template can be personalized each time such as the first sentence reflects that specific situation.

I also ask friends and colleagues to email me article links they know I would find interesting.  One of my friends once sent an article she saw in Fortune magazine on customer service.  After sending off a delighted thank-you, I forwarded the article to a prospective client, just to touch base about a conversation we had had on sales and marketing training.  I got business from them and a thank-you!

The Power of Personal Touch

I believe there is a distinct correlation between the time we give the little thank-you note and the amount of business we receive. When we give this courtesy, the returns continue to manifest.  What keeps this simple gesture from happening?  When things go right, we believe its “normal,” so what’s the point. We all want to be valued for our efforts such as who takes initiative or who rarely uses a sick day.

This marketing idea is critical in any industry. Years ago, I started selling real estate in a large metropolitan area where I had only one friend.  Unfortunately, she did not own a home!  I not only worked hard seven days a week to build my business, but I used the company-provided note cards and stamps to connect with local homeowners.  I wrote short two to three word sentences, like “The new brick trim on the front of your house looks great and adds drive-by presence and value.  Call me for a free appraisal!  Thank you.”  Of course, I always responded to Sunday open house “walk-ins” by sending a follow-up thank-you notes.  My business grew quickly and dramatically; part of which I attribute to simple courtesies.

Let me end by thanking my mother who worked hard to instill in me the values by which I live.  Among her teachings I particularly remember is her dictum, “Never take gifts or thoughtful actions by others for granted.”  This is an important lesson for parents to incorporate—it goes with teaching manners. I think back to the time I sat at the small family desk trying to write unique and personal thank-you notes for my eighth grade graduation gifts.  As a youngster, it was difficult to individualize each note, but the effect of both the writing and the actual mailing of those cards gave me a lift, a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.  Have you ever noticed how good it feels when you receive one of these personalized notes?  Sending them feels even better!

Why not make a promise to yourself: try my end-of-the-day ritual for one month to determine the impact of a short, handwritten thank-you—and thank you for taking time to read this article.

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