The Value of Handwritten Notes/Cards for Business

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training

A while back I read in Wall Street Journal about a man who asked his son to write a handwritten thank you note and mail it to the person and reminding his son not to forget to put his return address on the envelope. The son asked, “Where do I put the return address? If I recall, he didn’t know where the stamp went either. Depending on how you look at that, it could be sad or funny.

Sadly, there is a huge lack of personalized thank you notes not only in business, but in our personal lives as well. While the “I-GEN” may deem handwritten notes ‘unnecessary,’ as some say/feel: “the note didn’t sound as though they meant it” and other odd comments, and yet, there is a definite impact and ROI of handwritten notes in business. My thinking is they better get over that.

As an avid note writer, I hear it all the time, “Thank you Nancy. Your note was so well received.” I even get thank you notes for my thank you notes.

And several times when I need to send an email thank you I explain to the recipient: “Hi, Bob. I’d rather jot a handwritten note; however, for the sake of expediency, sending an email.” I want them to know I prefer handwritten notes.

Notes do not need to be long. They just need to BE! I recently suggested to a millennial young lady who was doing job interviews that she write a thank you note to her prospective employer after the interview. “Oh,” she said, “I did. I always send an email after the interview.” Not sure she ‘got it.’ There is a BIG difference between a handwritten thank you note and an email. You become part of the grey mass of average in an email. With a handwritten note you become special. You will stand out in a much more positive way with a handwritten note vs. an email.

Now, that being said, one can write a very non-inspiring, very empty sounding handwritten note while some notes are more expressive in an email. “Thank you for your time Tuesday. Sincerely, Bob Smith” is an empty handwritten note to a prospective employer. Very non-inspiring. While it could make an impact for ‘trying,’ we can do better.

And yet with an email, the grammar and punctuation are graded as well. And therein lies a very big problem. Not only with the millennials, there are loads of executives using the wrong YOUR, YOU’RE, THERE, THEIR, THEY’RE, TO, and TOO.

My personal advice is to send a personalized handwritten note (and not on scratch paper) to a business associate today. Watch the results. Even a note that simply says:

“Hi John, You’ve been on my mind and wanted to be sure you were aware of how much we appreciate your business. Stay well and trust me to keep in touch. All the best, Nancy”

One of the best thank you notes I ever received was delivered by a waiter while we were having dinner after I spoke at the AUTO GLASS CONFERENCE. It was handwritten on a paper napkin which I still have. It doesn’t matter how it gets to you; it just ‘matters’ it’s done.

Bonus tip: If you have poor penmanship or hard to read handwriting, keep your message, short, but honest.

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Nancy Friedman, customer service keynote speaker, is president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training and a featured speaker at franchise, association, and corporate meetings around the world. A popular TV guest, she appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America and CBS This Morning, as well as hundreds of other radio, television and print outlets around the world, including the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. The author of 9 books on her chosen topics, Nancy helps corporate America improve their communications with their customers & co-workers. You can see her 9 books here. For more information, log on to Nancy Friedman's website www.nancyfriedman.com or call (314) 291-1012. Oh yeah you can email her at nancyf@telephonedoctor.com. Nancy is a recent recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Hall of Fame Award - St. Louis Small Business Monthly