The Power of a Thank You

It’s good manners, yes, but also good marketing.

A handwritten thank you note, a quick email just to say thanks, an end-of-year card with a custom chocolate to show gratitude.

However you do it, saying thanks goes a long way. And when it comes to building your business, you can’t say thank you enough.

I blogged about the new dentist yesterday (read it here) – the week after my kids’ appointments, a handwritten thank you card came in the mail. We already had a good experience. This just cemented it.

Last night, I shopped at Michael’s with the kids for holiday parties they’re planning this weekend for friends. We went in search of holiday-themed cookie cutters and found lots of Christmas trees, angels and candy canes. No menorahs, no dreidels, nothing Jewish.

I asked the cashier about it, and she said, blank-faced, “We didn’t get anything this year for Chanukah. Try another store.”

No compassion. No concern. I was peeved. I shared my disappointment and asked if she could convey that to corporate, so that they knew for next year’s inventory that Jews do in fact shop here. Minutes later, another customer came to the checkout to ask why there was nothing for Chanukah in the store.

The difference between saying thank you when you don’t have to and turning a blind eye when a customer expresses disappointment is huge. I was mildly annoyed to find nothing in stock, but after the blanket stare and it-wasn’t-me lack of concern, I was highly annoyed. Isn’t her job to make sure my experience with the business is positive?

The problem with big-box stores is they don’t have to do much to win our business. Show up and shop. They’re big. They have deep pockets for advertising and plentiful coupons.

But that doesn’t mean they’ll care about you.

A small business, even a mid-sized business, should care. They have skin in the game. They need the business. And dare I say, in this economic climate, where we have all we need and more options than we could possibly consider, every business would be wise to court customers and do the dance of appreciation.

At the end of every year, I find a way to say thank you to my clients. This year it’s custom cards and Your:People branded chocolate bars. A little something, but it’s something. One year I hosted a luncheon with an inspirational speaker and invited all my clients and staff to attend.

There are many ways to show appreciation. But taking the time to handwrite a note or pick up the phone and say voice-to-voice, thank you so much, I really appreciate you, it just carries more weight when it comes from the heart.

Years ago, my sister-in-law and I went to a little yoga studio in Petoskey when we were up north with the family on vacation. We are not in any way likely to be regular customers, though we enjoyed the class immensely.

Sure enough, a week later a handwritten notecard arrived in the mail at our homes thanking us for coming in.

As far away as we get with technology and face-to-face interaction, we have to be even more careful to make those human connections. Thank you notes, personal calls, whatever it takes – to stand out from the crowd, you truly have to make the effort.

And if you’re in this for the long-run, there is no shortcut, no other way. Jump in full force, wear your heart on your sleeve. There IS room in business for the heart. Dare I say, it’s what makes all the difference.

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