7 Most Common Business Thank You Note Mistakes

By: Ilan Mann

July 2, 2021

It’s common knowledge that a thank-you note is an essential part of business etiquette, but believe it or not, there are many ways to do it wrong. As we have written about here and here, there is nothing more effective than a handwritten thank you card when it comes to winning new clients and increasing sales in your business. And in today’s digital age, sending a printed note is even more important.

However, many business owners don’t take advantage of this key business practice to the degree that they should. There are many reasons for this that we will discuss in this article, but today I want to focus on the most common business thank-you note mistakes.

While we are big fans of thank-you notes as a general rule, misunderstandings over proper etiquette and even when to send a card can weaken or even harm customer relationships. To avoid the seven most common thank-you note mistakes, read on.

Not sending the note soon enough

The sooner your company sends a note after any transaction or touchpoint, the more likely it will be read and remembered by the person who received it. It might seem like a small thing, but in today’s busy world where people get hundreds or thousands of emails every day (and forget most of them), this simple step can make all the difference.

If your company is in the habit of sending thank you notes more than 72 hours after every job or transaction, chances are that many recipients will forget who sent it and why. The sooner a personalized note arrives, the higher its impact – especially if they received hundreds of other generic emails, text messages and memes in between.

Sending a generic note without any personalization or connection
We get it. A form letter is easy to replicate and send out. Just print and mail. If that’s all the company is doing with a thank-you note, it may not cut it. Sure, a form letter might work for the first few customers who receive it, but after that, recipients will see it for what it is: an automated gesture to boost your business’s sales without any genuine care or connection behind it.

Instead, make sure your thank-you note is tailored to the individual. Personalization will inspire a response and have recipients seeing your business as an interested party in their lives, not a faceless vendor sending out blank cards for marketing purposes. Include as many details as you can, including the customer’s name, a mention of the product or service and the date of the transaction.

Making The Thank-You Note All About You

The intended purpose of a thank-you note is to make customers feel appreciated, especially if you already provided an exceptional product or level of service. However, what you want to avoid is making them feel like they are getting an advertisement from your business.

That means the focus of the thank-you note should remain squarely on the customer, not on your company. Sure, you should acknowledge the importance of your products and services – indirectly. But a thank-you note is not an opportunity to brag about what makes your company great.

Instead, think of this: if someone did something nice for you (e.g., bought a product or service from you), would you want that person to talk about him or herself the whole time? Probably not. The same is true for thank-you notes: make sure they focus on the customer and their needs, not you.

Going On Too Long

When it comes to thank-you notes, less is more. You want to keep your thank-you note short and sweet – preferably less than 200 words. Long paragraphs and multiple pages are too much, even for a wonderful customer. If you feel that you want to say more than you have room for in your note, that’s okay. Just send a shorter thank-you note and explain that there will be more follow up in the future.

Remember that every touchpoint creates an opportunity to strengthen (or weaken) the impression your customer has of your company – and you. So make sure that every word of your thank-you note is carefully chosen and adds value in some way.

Not Saying Anything Of Value

This is related to the last point. When you are sending a thank-you note, you should still be doing it for a reason. A good thank-you note can communicate a lot in few words. Use this as an opportunity to communicate what is important to you: trust, quality, originality, customer experience or meaning – to name a few areas.

This is an opportunity to express the values you hold dear and the beliefs you stand behind. If you’re not saying anything of value, then your customers probably aren’t getting anything out of reading your notes.

Writing An Email Instead Of A Handwritten Note

I doubt you are surprised that the team behind Postalgia would recommend handwritten notes. But admitted bias aside, there is value to sending your customers a physical, handwritten piece of mail.

There is a sense of appreciation and care that can just come through in the touch, feel and use of an actual thank-you note. It’s tactile. It feels good to receive it. It takes effort to send it. It’s memorable.

While email is generic and unremarkable, handwritten notes are the opposite. So if you have the time and ability to send a thank-you note in person, then your customers will appreciate it. Not only does this show that you care – which is what a thank-you note is all about – but also that you took the time to put effort into their appreciation of your business.

Forgetting to send out thank-you notes altogether

Lastly, one of the big mistakes is not sending out customer thank-you notes at all. This is a big no-no. Your customers deserve to know that their business means something to you.

If it just slips your mind, then make sure you get on top of things as soon as possible, preferably within 72 hours of the customer interaction, as per tip number one. And don’t tell yourself that they “won’t care”. They will.

Instead, think of the thank-you note as an opportunity. With just a few words, you can express gratitude for their business and all the ways it truly matters to you. Be genuine, be brief, and be grateful. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just focus on what’s important: your customers’ happiness.

Wrapping Up

Sending thank-you notes is a powerful tool for deepening your relationship with your customers. But it is important to do it right. By avoiding these seven mistakes, you can help ensure that you get the most out of this important activity.

Of course, the most important step is resolving to include thank-you notes as a key part of your sales process. Are there any other examples of common mistakes that you see small businesses make when writing their thank-you notes? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.