The Secret Sauce, Part II: The Power of Gratitude

The Secret Sauce, Part I
January 28, 2020
A Handshake from Six Feet Away
March 20, 2020
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The Secret Sauce, Part II: The Power of Gratitude

ID 148948636 © Andrey Popov |

In last month’s blog post, I wrote about the key to ORMS’ success and longevity – putting our clients first. I shared how we always listen to our customers, as well as other key stakeholders like future clients, business partners, regulators, and industry influencers, to ensure we are delivering the services that our clients need. In this month’s post, I’ll continue on that thread and share some more actions you can take to cultivate real and meaningful relationships with your customers.

A deceptively simple, yet powerful way to keep in touch with your clients is with a handwritten note. This definitely falls under the “old school” category of nurturing and business development, but it is surprisingly effective. Post-Internet, as we exhaustedly sift through inboxes filled with hundreds of unread emails, and try to stay current with the latest LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter feeds, there is something refreshing about receiving a quaint but ultra-personal handwritten thank-you card from a business colleague.

A 2018 psychological study bears this out. It found that letter-writers consistently underestimated the positive reactions receivers would feel upon reading a note of gratitude. According to Amit Kumar, one of the authors of the study, “What we saw is that it only takes a couple of minutes to compose letters like these, thoughtful ones and sincere ones. It comes at little cost, but the benefits are larger than people expect.”

Let’s face it, most of us don’t get nearly the volume of snail mail as 10, 15 or 20 years ago. And much of what we do receive consists of impersonal, preprinted junk mail offerings. On the rare occasion we receive an envelope with our name handwritten on the front, it really stands out. I have yet to meet the person who will discard a hand-addressed envelope without first reading what’s inside!

And if what’s inside is a few sentences of honest, heartfelt appreciation for a recent interaction, or a simple “thank you” for being a long-time client, well … that really leaves an impression.

A quick Google search results in lots of tips on how to write the perfect handwritten thank you note. My advice is to keep it simple:

  1. Mention the recipient by name. This goes without saying, right?
  2. Be informal, but professional. Use a pen filled with black or blue ink (no Sharpies or wild colors!) Keep the tone casual and sincere, but don’t go overboard with humor. Make sure your penmanship meets at least a minimum standard of readability.
  3. Keep it short. The handwritten note is no place to document your life story. Open with a greeting. Refer to a specific time you engaged with the client. Say thank you. Close.
  4. Don’t sell. The handwritten note has one purpose and one purpose only – to show appreciation. People can see right through a thinly veiled sales pitch.
  5. Be timely. Don’t wait to send out that note – it should arrive soon after you last interacted with your client.

Above all, don’t overthink it. Here’s a simple, but effective example of a sincere, but brief note:

“Hi, Joe – Thank you so much for trusting us at ORMS with your last environmental review. Your team was outstanding to work with and we truly appreciate your business. Best, Derek.”

While I don’t do it as often as I should, sending a handwritten thank-you note has always been something that people have responded positively to and made a point to discuss. This year, I plan to make handwritten notes part of my regular routine. How about you?

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