Have You Thanked Them Lately?

By MARK RIFFEY for the Flathead Beacon Newspaper

It’s ok to say thank you. Really. It’s not that hard at all.

Can you remember the last time you received a personal, hand written thank you note from someone you do business with?

I can.

Every year, I get a mass-printed corporate looking thank you postcard with the business person’s picture on it. It’s laser printed, including the guy’s signature. I have to assume that he knows I got his card if he was involved in paying the bill to have the card mailed, but it might be done by corporate and not even something he has a choice or any knowledge of.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a time and place for those kinds of cards – marketing and random, fun customer touches. However, a thank you is a personal thing. It’s not the time and place for an automated, mostly impersonal card.

I understand he may think he has better things to do than write cards, but let’s talk about it, then you can decide.

Feeling appreciated

Do I think this guy appreciates my business? I’m pretty sure he does, but I’m sure because I know him from elsewhere. He’s in a price-shopped industry that isn’t known for “I stand out in a crowd”. He could stand out easily with some effort, but in his industry, the “industry norm” is that you don’t stand out and you don’t grow quickly. Instead, the norm is to eat beans and rice for a few years as you grow your customer base, get your client list to the right size, and at that point, you’re pretty well set for life.

Thank you for noticing me.Does the card show his appreciation? Not even close. Maybe the laser printed signature gave it away. I’m not upset about it, but it doesn’t deliver the message that it was intended to deliver. That’s the key to things likethis.

People tend to be annoyed with people who sell this product. We assume they are impersonal, distant and generally don’t care simply because of the reputation of some who do what they do. It’s easy to clear that assumption away with a hand-written note, along with some non-industry standard behavior.

Does this card tell me “That’s not true about me, I really care and I really appreciate your business” ?

Nope.

Does this card tell me “It’s my job to take care of your business and keep your out of harm’s way.”

Nope.

Do I think this guy is a friend because I get laser printed cards from him?

Nope.

Don’t send automated thank you cards

Can you remember the last pre-printed thank you note you got from a friend? I’m guessing you don’t.

You get hand written cards from friends. Sometimes cards picked out just for you. Sometimes, cards from a set they bought or had printed. Sometimes, cards they made by hand. Think about the “map” that the leading man in the movie Elizabethtown received to lead him from his father’s little town back to the big city. Do you think her card showed that she cared? No question about it. Who wouldn’t want to get a map like that?

Can you remember the last hand written thank you note you got from an attorney, an insurance agent, the lady at the dry cleaners, your financial planner or the nice guy at the oil change place?

Can you remember the last time you sent a thank you card or note to a customer – and that card or note wasn’t pre-printed? When you’re at home watching reality TV, how difficult would it be to address and write a brief note on a few cards?

Isn’t their business worth 10 or 15 words, a stamp and a card? Don’t you want me thinking about your business when I open my mail, rather than thinking about the businesses who I *do* get mail from?

Now back to my original question. Can you remember the last time you received a real, hand-written thank you note from someone that you do business with?

Can your clients remember the last time?

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a strategic, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site, contact him on Twitter, or email him at mriffey@flatheadbeacon.com.

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a strategic, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s sitecontact him on Twitter, or email him at mriffey@flatheadbeacon.com.

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2014-08-20_0819Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a strategic, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s sitecontact him on Twitter, or email him atmriffey@flatheadbeacon.com.  Check out the Flathead Beacon archive of all of Mark’sblogs.