One of the easiest and most effective ways to stay in touch is with the power of the personal note with a “thank you” to a business associate. In research I’ve conducted, I ask the question, “How many of you send out personal notes?” I also ask, “How many of you receive personal notes or cards from clients or business associates?” The response indicates that few people take this practice seriously. As a follow up, I ask, “Has anyone received notes of appreciation, and how does that make you feel?” I trust you know the answer to this last question.
Here are eight opportunities to send a “thank you,” and when and how to do it effectively:
1. When customers do business with you, every time. Write a short, personalized “thank you” on an interesting card, letterhead, or even a postcard that says, “I appreciate your business, thank you.” You can never say thank you to someone too many times. We all appreciate the fact that people go out of their way to make us feel important and recognized.
2. When they compliment you. When a client compliments you about something, it’s an opportunity to jot off a little note of thanks, saying, “Thank you for taking the time for making my day. I appreciate it.” Compliments are given so rarely, so take the lead to say thank you when you get one.
3. When clients offer comments or suggestions. It’s a wonderful gift when your clients give you a suggestion or comment on how you might do something better or different. They’re also giving you an incredible buying signal. They might really be saying, “If you make that change, your product or service will be more attractive to me.” Here’s how to start this type of note: “Thank you for your suggestion on how I can better serve you. I’m in business to do exactly that. And you make my job easier and so much more enjoyable when you provide input.”
4. When customers try something you recommended. When clients buy into something new, solely based on your suggestion, they’re going out of their “comfort zone”. They’re putting trust in you and your product. This calls for a special note that could read, “Thank you for your trust in me. I value your business.”
5. When customers recommend you. This is the best form of advertising you can ever get. It’s so easy to take the time and go back to our advocate, and say, “thank you for referring me to —–. I will keep you posted and informed on what develops. It means a great deal to me to know that you’re willing to recommend me. I appreciate it.” This type of “thank you” might include a small gift as well.
6. When customers are patient, or not so patient. Our clients help us when they give us time to learn how to best serve them. Often this requires their patience. On the other hand, they give us a “wake up call” when they ask us to hurry up. When this happens they might really be saying, “Hello, remember me? Keep me in mind, or I might get swept away by the competition.” In either case, pull out a note card again, and let them know how important they are to you. Perhaps say, “Thanks for keeping me on my toes. I appreciate how you help me keep your business.”
7. When clients say “no” to you. You’ve just pitched an account and you didn’t get their business, this time. It’s still the opportunity to write a short note. Thank them for their time, their consideration and their honesty. Keep the door opened by being friendly and courteous. Research I conducted in the last three years shows that almost 20% of my business comes from prospects that said no the first time. People remembered the notes I sent and it made a difference. Such a difference that I got referrals, even from contacts that were not able to use my services themselves.
8. When customers make you smile. I have one client who e-mails me jokes all the time. Another one will call up and just give me some good news. Whatever it is, it makes me smile, and I want clients to know that they’ve made me feel good. I’ll send them an interesting note or card. This technique always gets noticed and remembered.
So, if you’re not using personal thank-you notes, you should start now and watch how they help your business grow.
Andrea Nierenberg is president of The Nierenberg Group , an international business consulting firm specializing in customized training, workshops and keynote addresses that equip executives with the tools they need to “Find, Grow & Keep”® the clients that are key to their success and to be more effective business communicators.