The Delete Button Can’t Erase a Handwritten Thank-You Note

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Saying thank you to your clients is an effective way to start, cultivate and maintain long-term relationships—the pillars of your success.

Though everybody agrees with the importance of thanking clients for their referrals, often my adviser clients do not share the same view on the most appropriate way to express their gratitude. Some believe that a verbal expression of appreciation is enough. Others prefer sending a card. Some would rather treat their referral clients to dinner or a round of golf. Some go as far as rewarding referrals by offering a discount on their fees. However, the non-believers in discounting fees cringe at the idea and prefer to buy a gift, as they feel that discounting may lead clients to question the validity of the fee structure.

What would happen if you took the time to write handwritten thank-you cards? Would your clients appreciate the added personal touch and, as a consequence, would it lead to a deepening of the relationship?

A thank-you note is an elegant and cost-effective way to show appreciation to someone who has helped you. It is also a viable and effective way to improve a client relationship. When I address this issue with my clients, I always bring up my personal experience. Throughout my years spent working in both the financial services and consulting industries, I’ve never missed an opportunity to send out a handwritten card to thank a client, especially when he or she was the source of a referral. With a few rare exceptions, the responses to my notes have been consistently very positive—usually a phone call in appreciation for my taking the time to write the note and thinking of them.

In our industry, every action is measured by the potential ROI it will generate. Consequently, the core question is whether or not a penned thank-you note is worth our time and money.  We do not need to be financial analysts to conclude that the potential return both on investment and image of a few minutes of our time and a few dollars in cost by far outweighs the investment.

In an environment dominated by emails, e-vites, and e-zines, the good old handwritten note has become almost a relic of the past. However, while e-communications are often erased at the very same speed they’re sent, for many individuals, receiving a card through the regular mail is almost a novelty. A reason to ponder the fact that handwritten, gratitude-conveying notes are often not immediately dunked in the waste bin, but end up sitting on our desks for an extended period of time, as a reminder of someone’s expressing their gratitude and appreciation for our actions. 

Do you belong to the camp that likes to send out thank-you cards for referrals? Or, do you resort to online automated services? What is your style?

Claudio Pannunzio
i-Impact Group, Inc.
Greenwich, Conn.

One thought on “The Delete Button Can’t Erase a Handwritten Thank-You Note

  1. I am of the camp that favors sending hand written cards and personalized newsletters. I appreciate the need for efficient processes but when it comes to the personal touch, I am concerned. We work hard to build our brands and the efficient third-party company may be sending out a product that does not reflect our brand entirely.

    For birthdays, I prefer to call the client. It is more personal, quicker, and there is no record retention requirement on a phone call! 🙂

    For newsletters, compare a canned newsletter to one that you wrote. Notice a difference?

    My point exactly.


    Timothy R. Yee
    Green Retirement Plans, Inc.

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