Six Things to Avoid in a Handwritten Thank You Note
By: Ilan MannApril 4, 2021
When you receive a handwritten thank-you note from someone, it’s one of the most thoughtful gestures that person could make. It shows that they took time out of their day to write something just for you. The same goes for your clients.
Writing a handwritten thank-you note to clients is a great way to show them how much they mean to your business or organization while creating a deeper personal connection. Unfortunately, many small business owners often don’t write thank-you notes or cards. Yet studies show that we often underestimate the value of personalized thank-you letters because they aren’t sure where to start or what to include. Our take: it’s a powerful tool you should be using.
If you want to add a personal touch to your business, a handwritten card is a great way to do it. That being said, there are some things that should be avoided when composing one of these notes. Here are six major pitfalls to avoid when crafting a handwritten thank-you letter.
1. Don’t send a generic thank you
If you decide to send a handwritten note to a client, make sure it’s personalized. Generic messages are impersonal and show that you didn’t take time out of your day to create something for your customer specifically.
It’s easy to personalize a letter if you’re using Contact Relationship Management (CRM) software and even easier with some creativity. Even without using a CRM or spreadsheet program, take time to introduce your customers by name when expressing gratitude for their patronage: they’ll appreciate it! And never forget that spelling is important–accuracy will help maintain trust and avoid offence in this fast-paced world.
2. Don’t be too formal
The thank-you letter is a great way to express gratitude for the time and money donors, customers, or supporters have given. Your message must be both warm and sincere, which can mean different things depending on who the recipient might be. The tone of voice that you use in your note should be friendly and personal.
Keep in mind a friendly tone of voice helps make sure people don’t stop reading after just one sentence, too. So think about what a note would sound like if it came from an old friend instead of some corporation when crafting yours.
Depending on the culture of your organization, you may have a standard way to address a customer or donor. Some say “Mr.” or “Ms.” while others may call them by their first name. Avoid guessing at the best title for them – only use one that has been specifically stated in advance. You can’t go wrong with using their first name.
3. Don’t wait too long
When sending a thank-you note, it’s best not to wait so long that your customer forgets having done the thing you’re thanking them for. The slower they receive a response, the more likely they’ll forget the details of the interaction. That’s why follow-ups can’t be delayed for too long.
It’s going to take some time for your note to get finished, stamped and mailed – it’s not called “snail mail” for nothing! So send a letter to your customer thanking them for their business as soon as you can after the transaction.
4. Don’t hide your company’s personality – or yours
It’s important to be yourself when communicating, not just because it can help you come across as more genuine, but also so the other person knows they are communicating with a real person.
Consider what your company or non-profit is about and how you would want to articulate to a customer or client for them to understand you and your company or organization better at an emotional level.
Don’t forget to include hints of your company’s personality!
And make sure to showcase your own personality, too. You’re a unique individual – don’t ever be afraid of letting that show. Don’t forget it’s one-on-one communication, so the recipient will likely appreciate hearing from you at an authentic level rather than just another generic message sent out by any small business or organization communicating with a sea of customers.
5. Don’t ask for anything in your thank you note
Don’t ask for anything in your thank-you letter. A thank-you note’s only role is outreach: to make the customer or donor feel good and provide sincere thanks. Full stop.
Though it might be tempting to include a new piece of information – such as telling them about another service or selling some tickets to an upcoming event – don’t do that. If you do, then your gratitude will not seem genuine, which could leave them feeling unappreciated instead of valuing your gesture of thanking them.
6. Avoid talking about your company or your goals
Similar to the last point, a thank you note should be used only to say thanks. It’s not the time for touting your company’s accomplishments or goals; it’s a chance to express gratitude and recognize a customer’s contribution to your success.
This is, however, the perfect time to be thoughtful in your thank-you note. Make it all about them, not you. Take some time and put yourself into their shoes, remembering that they could have taken their business somewhere else: they deserve a little appreciation!
Thank-You Notes Are A Powerful Tool
The right way to say thanks after doing business together might not always come naturally or easily. But once it becomes a regular part of your business operations, you’ll find it is an effort worth doing. It’s an opportunity to say thanks and let your donors, customers or supporters know how much they are appreciated.
Lizzie Post, the great-great-granddaughter of the etiquette guru Emily Post, highlights the power of a personal note: “There’s something very lovely about the personal, physical touch of someone’s handwriting on an actual piece of paper that arrives at your door.”
The first step is deciding to send a handwritten thank-you letter to build relationships with your valued contacts. Using these rules, you will ensure that the message in that letter or note has a big and lasting impact on the recipient.
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