Anyone remember handwritten notes? It seems in this digital modern age, the art of the letter is long gone. Even the thank you card seems to be a blast from the past unless you recently got married or bar mitzvahed. Am I Luddite? Those of you who know me, know I often race to embrace the newest technology. I sometimes need band-aids because I have embraced being bleeding edge in technology instead of waiting a little bit and being just cutting edge.
Yet, as a number of my clients will testify, I preach the handwritten thank you card mantra. In this modern day and age, it seems the only mail we get at home are bills and commercial direct mail. How often do we ever receive something that was handwritten? On those rare occasions, we do get a letter, it’s the first thing we open. Direct mailers know this and have resorted to sending out mass mailers that are supposed to appear handwritten. They, of course, fail in their mailing because they almost always choose to send the mail with an indicia instead of a stamp, which saves them a ton of money at the post office but costs them at the mailbox with many more unopened letters. (Perhaps being in the business I am more aware of how direct mail is sent out than most people, but to me, it’s super obvious)
Handwritten letters and notes are read because they are so unique in this day and age. Yet the temptation for every ECP to automize their mailings, their recall notices, their every business process, is saving them time, but costing them money. When my dentist sends a postcard to remind me to make an appointment, it is a mass-produced 4”x6” postcard that gets thrown away before it’s ever read. It’s one of those cheesy reminder cards they bought from a catalog dentists across the country buy from. You’ve seen the same cards made for optical. It’s 4”x6” because that qualifies for a postcard stamp instead of first-class postage, saving them money.
Believe me, I understand saving money. I am all for saving money. Every business costs money to run and all of us would like to put some money in our pockets at the end of the year. I am telling you that the extra 15¢ to send a letter instead of a postcard can reap big rewards when used correctly. Printing your own thank you cards is truly not that expensive and more importantly, makes you unique.
Why am I telling you all this? I purchased a shirt online recently and was very pleasantly surprised to find a thank you card tucked into the package. It made my day that the seller took the time to personally write a thank you. Rest assured I will be shopping with them again.
My purchase reminded me of one of the things I try to get independent practices to do. That is to have every customer write their name and address on two envelopes, either when they are filling out their medical forms (if they are in for an exam) or while you are running their credit card and finishing paperwork (if they came in for glasses or sunglasses).
The first envelope you use to send them a handwritten thank you card for whatever they purchased that day. They too will be so pleasantly surprised that they will most likely tell many of their friends and coworkers. Then file away the 2nd envelope for eleven months from now and use that envelope for a handwritten recall reminder. Who wouldn’t open a handwritten note a year from now, especially when it is in your own handwriting?