Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Lost Art of Thank You Notes

Image courtesy of Iain Farrell
Is writing thank you cards or notes a lost art? Does anyone still do that?

Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone.  ~G.B. Stern

My older son's birthday was last month; he had a party and received gifts from family and friends. Before the birthday weekend was over, I reminded him that he'd be writing thank you cards and notes for each gift he received. "I know." But he didn't say that or write the cards begrudgingly; he's been taught that it's what we do. I always have my kids write thank you notes for gifts on birthdays, holidays, etc. They're 7 and 10 - they've been doing it since they could write their names. It's never too early to start.

But here's the thing. They've been to a lot of birthday parties over the last couple of years, and I can honestly say that I cannot recall receiving thank you cards from any of the kids we bought gifts for within the last year or two.

What's my point? This bit of etiquette gets instilled early on in life, by our parents. I wrote previously about raising the customer experience leaders of tomorrow. It starts today; it starts when they are young, before they even know a thing about customer experience. But I think parents are no longer teaching their kids the importance of gratitude, thank yous, appreciation - whatever you want to call it. How can kids who never learned the importance of saying "thank you" ever develop a culture of appreciation years from now, when they're running their own businesses... or running yours?


 “What if you gave someone a gift, and they neglected to thank you for it – would you be likely to give them another? Life is the same way. In order to attract more of the blessings that life has to offer, you must truly appreciate what you already have.” -Ralph Marston

13 comments:

  1. It's such a simple thing yet not done enough. Some businesses and I dare say some cultures have the attitude that they don't owe the customers anything. I suppose they don't "owe" them anything but "thank you" goes such a long way in creating loyalty and extending the customer lifetime value. Timely post.

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    1. Thanks for reading and for your comment. I agree... it sure does go a long way!

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  2. Good point Annette! I once received a hand written note along with a book I ordered and I was blown away. In some ways, I do think it's a lost art. The people that do write a note to show their gratitude really impress customers.

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    1. Thanks, Sarah. I received a hand-written thank you note from a company once, as well, and it sure was a moment of "Wow!" for me. Thanks for reading and for commenting.

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  3. Too often businesses do not continue the customer relationship after the sale. Once the sale is made it's like they're saying, "Next in line," and shuffle us off. We all know people buy from people they know, like and trust. But people also buy from people who want their business. So how do you do it? Simply say "thank you." Writing a thank you note to show appreciation would be a way to extend and strengthen the relationship and set a business apart from the competition. Seems like common sense, but unfortunately, as you pointed out, it's just not common practice. Thanks for the reminder. I hope your article revives the lost art of thank you notes. It would be one time that "what goes around comes around" would be a good thing.

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    1. Bill, thanks for reading and for your comment. I agree 110%!

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  4. Thank you notes are a must for me and I do my best to instill the importance of gratitude in my children as well. I really think saying thank you it is very easy thing to do and it surprises me that some people don't find it absolutely necessary. For me, it doesn't even have to be a handwritten card. I think emails are acceptable in this day and age - just something to recognize another person's efforts. Companies like Paperless Post and MeebleMail.com are great resources. In fact, I used MeebleMail email stationery for my son's birthday thank yous this year.

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    1. Really makes you wonder, when did saying "thank you" go out of style? :-( Great suggestions... I'll check out those products. Thanks for reading and for posting a comment!

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  5. Teaching young people to write thank you notes for gifts received should be a must, especially this time of year with all the graduation parties going on. It's a disappointment when you send out graduation gifts/money and never hear if they received your gift or not. It makes you want to call and ask if it was received. My children and grand children and now the great grand children do write thank you notes and they are real treasures to be kept.

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    1. Hi Alice. Thanks for reading and for commenting. I love it! It sounds like you've done a great job with your kids and down the line. The scenario you describe happens all too often. So sad. One simple act, one simple thank you, can make all the difference in the world!

      Annette :-)

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  6. Can attest that hand written thank you notes are very powerful. I've been both the recipient and giver of hand written thank you notes with teams I've been a part of. The notes made lasting impressions.

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    1. Joy, thanks for reading and for commenting. That is so true... they really do leave a lasting impression. I hope people remember the feeling they have when they get a thank you card, especially one that someone has taken the time to write by hand. I hope it encourages them to reciprocate or pay forward in the future.

      Annette :-)

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