The Power of a Note
One of the most powerful communications tools still remains the pen and paper. While technologies such as blogs, video and photo sharing sites, and phones that can capture and post all of that content, have helped to create a 24/7, always-on communications and news cycle, it has only enhanced how powerful a simple pen and piece of paper can be. Now, you’re probably starting to reach this post and think I’m insane. But, what I’m referring to is not writing memos, or publishing newspaper articles, capturing notes during a meeting or anything like that. I’m talking about the power that a simple hand-written note can wield. Notice, I did say hand-written.
Recently I mailed out hand-written thank-you cards to every single sponsor of our Inbound Marketing Summits and Inbound Marketing Bootcamps, all of our clients and a handful of other people who have helped us at New Marketing Labs over the past few months. I figured that a personalized, hand-written thank-you card would mean a lot more than a standard email.
Plus, who needs another email? I know I sure don’t. As I continue to see the amount of physical mail I receive decrease due to paying bills online, receiving email newsletters, and communicating mainly via email and social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, when a card or note from someone arrives, it means so much more. I actually take time to sit down and read it. I save it. It means more to me because I know that everyone in my circles run their lives from digital dashboards.
When I sent the thank-you cards I didn’t expect anything to come of it. I mean, all of these people have given us money or donated their time has a cost to it as well. The least I could do is take 2 minutes out of my life to send them a thank-you. Granted, I could’ve still sent everyone a piece of physical mail but made it a lot easier by typing a standard letter, printing 120 copies, signing them and then having them mailed out. But I chose not to. Why? Because that takes away the personal nature of the thank you. As great as standardization is for effectiveness, it does not translate to being more personal.
Right after I had mailed out all of the cards I had watched a MSNBC special about President Obama and the White House. While there were many things that I found fascinating during the 2 hour special, one thing that kept sticking with me was the fact that President Obama reads 10 letters from the public every single day. Now, I know that 10 letters doesn’t seem like a lot. Especially seeing that the White House receives over 100,000 emails, 1,000 faxes, and 2,500-3,500 phone calls every single day and over 65,000 physical letters every week (real numbers, not just estimations). A mere 10 letters per day isn’t even a drop in the bucket. But, before looking at it through that lens, stop and think about this for a minute.
The President of the United States is personally reading 70 letters from the American public every week. These letters aren’t being digested for him into a quick one-pager. These letters aren’t being scrubbed (except for security reasons) before the President sees them. Here’s the real win, not only is the President reading these letters every day but he personally responds to about 15 of those letters every week. No, not his secretary, not his Director of Communications, not his personal aide, or an intern, but the President is responding to them personally. Guess what? He hand writes every single response!
Check out this video of the President talking about why it is so important to him to stay in touch with the public:
Love him, hate him, you have to respect him for it. This is not a political debate but instead a look into a powerful tool that you can and should be employing into your businesses. Whether you’re an account executive, sales representative, manager, Director, VP or further up the structure, are you reaching out like this to your customers? I’m not talking about the obligatory holiday card or “thank you for your business” type stuff. I mean personalized, thought out, responses. How do you think a customer would feel if after calling into customer service or tech support, a few days later they received a hand-written note from that team member? Think you would win them over? Think you would create brand loyalty? I think your chances are pretty high.
Need some other examples of people who are keeping their ear to the ground and listening to their customers?
*Tony Hsieh of Zappos is a perfect example. Tony is behind the company’s main Twitter account, currently hovering around 1.1 million followers. Tony responds to as many people as possible given the crazy schedule of a CEO of a $1.2 billion company, an in-demand public speaker and someone who has been featured in 2009 in every major business magazine. While I’m not sure whether Zappos reps send hand-written notes, they are empowered to help the customer in any way possible and they believe very strongly in building culture.
*Fritz Henderson. Fritz is the recently minted CEO of General Motors. Fritz has just a few things on his plate if you ask me. But, Fritz actively listens to customers by reading and responding to blogs, monitoring what’s being talked about in the media, and taking time to learn from people like Chris Brogan. Fritz has even launched an online community called “Tell Fritz”. Yes, I’m sure that Fritz has a substantially sized PR and communications teams as well as multiple agencies that work with those teams. Fritz also has my friend Chris Barger working social media for GM. But, besides all of those reports that he can call upon, Fritz takes an active role in listening and responding directly to his customers.
Want to listen like Tony, Fritz or many other executives now are? Start by growing bigger ears!
Imagine how you would feel if Tony, Fritz or the President of the United States responded directly to you whether it be digital or hand-written (more points for the hand-written!). Now take that feeling and imagine how you could provide that same feeling for YOUR customers, business partners or your employees.
It’s not always the flashy things that make the biggest impacts. Something as simple as hand-written notes or a simple message to let them know you’re listening can win you a customer for life.
Are you doing this within your company? Do you know someone who is doing this and you want to recognize them for their efforts?
If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to receive future articles delivered to your feed reader.
Photo by: athena