The Power of Thank You in Business
By Chelse Benham
"Who does not thank for little will not thank for much." - Estonian proverb
Remembering to say and write “thank you” letters is a courtesy that leverages an
underutilized edge in the marketplace. This edge can do such things as expand
your client base, create customer and employee loyalty, open up a job
opportunity and even help you acquire a promotion. To underestimate the value
of “thank you” is to shortchange your future in the professional world. The
courtesy of thanking others is a productive means to forging relationships and
establishing a positive professional image.
“Sometimes the little details make all the difference in whether you get a job or
build on a business relationship. The more personalized a thank you letter is the
more effective it is. Hand written notes are better than typed ones,” said Lourdes
Servantes, placement specialist at The University of Texas-Pan American’s
Career Placement Services Office. “It’s also very important to send your thank
you in a timely manner. A card, rather than an e-mail, is also better, but a written
thank you either way is always a good habit to get into.”
Sue Fox, author of Etiquette for Dummies, gives definitive advice on the
timeliness of thank-you notes. According to Fox, the thank-you should be done
promptly – within 48 hours of receiving a gift or attending an event. Two or three
lines is a perfectly acceptable length. Short thank-you notes are better than long
“Sending thank-you notes is so important – in business as well as in your
personal life,” Fox writes in her book. “Sending a thank-you note only makes you
look good, but it also shows that you respect the person who did something kind
for you. Simply saying thank you is not enough! You must put your gratitude in
Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) International, a public opinion polling and
marketing research company, studies the issues facing America's largest
companies. ORC’s Web site, www.orc.co.uk provides many different surveys
about consumer attitudes. One survey, commissioned by ORC, prepared by
Lenox Incorporated, a gift merchandise company, confirmed that there is an
increase in the perception of rude behavior among Americans. The survey found
more than one-third of 1,000 people polled rate the manners of Americans as
poor. That's nearly a 50 percent jump from 2002 and a 65 percent drop from
results of the same poll in 2001. The Lenox etiquette poll found that nearly five
out of every 10 people don't always say thanks.
Ultimately, remembering to say thank you goes a long way toward forging
relationships that can turn into opportunities.
Joanna L. Krotz, founder and editor of MoneyMinded.com and CEO of
Muse2Muse Productions, a content strategy and editorial services firm, writes
that extending old-time courtesies helps you stand out and it provides a
She lists affordable ways to show business gratitude, as well as tips about timing
• Throw a party or reception for your customers to thank
• Be warm and personal. Write or send an e-mail strictly in gratitude
and not as prelude to asking for something else. Customers and
suppliers notice such gestures. Depending on your business, the
note can vary from no-frills to fancy.
• Timing counts. For most businesses effective appreciation is less
about cost or creativity and more about courtesy. Getting a note or
an e-mail out right away — within couple of days — is more
• Pass along compliments. When you want to express gratitude for
something that has had a successful ripple effect, get the third party
to send thanks. It creates a strong incentive for your recipient to
stay connected. In Orlando, Fla., a nonprofit group called A Gift for
Teaching provides free school supplies to central Florida teachers.
Over the past five years, it has given $9 million worth of supplies to
"The only thing the organization asks of teachers is to write, or have
their students write, thank-you notes. It's been a great success,"
says the group's former publicist, Kylene Petrin. This idea isn't
limited to nonprofits. Think about testimonials that could go out to
customers from employees, vendors and more.
• Send value-added appreciation. Whenever you come across a
white paper, industry report or competitive intelligence that you
think a customer or supplier might find enlightening, clip it and send
it along at the right moment. Of course, make sure these are timely.
But even if the client has already seen it, he or she will appreciate
that you're thinking about and supporting his or her interests.
• Give a quirky distinctive thank you. Another way to make
customers remember you is with unique or unusual gift.
• Giving thanks to employees is also important. Saying thanks to
employees has several benefits. You build staff loyalty and
increase productivity, which leads to greater customer satisfaction.
Few managers or business owners bother to give enough praise to their
employees. A scant 10 percent of employees report they have supervisors who
say a daily "thank you" for a job well done, according to a recent nationwide
Maritz poll, a national consumer opinion survey conducted in 2003. The poll,
which surveyed 1,002 adults nationwide, asked the 85 percent of employees who
left their jobs voluntarily to measure the impact of several factors surrounding
their decision. Aside from compensation and benefits, the poll found that lack of
recognition or praise (25 percent) played a great part in people leaving their jobs.
More than half of employees (55 percent) said they were never, seldom or only
occasionally appreciated and praised. Furthermore, the poll revealed that 37
percent of all employees rated intangible rewards like praise or recognition as
Krotz continues her advice for thanking others with the following:
• Thank your complaining customers. Research indicates that the
majority of dissatisfied customers don't bother to complain, points
out B. J. Gallagher, a human resource training consultant based in
Los Angeles. They simply vote with their wallets by going
elsewhere for their business needs. That means complaints are a
valuable gift in providing a heads-up about where to focus on
"A customer who complains still wants to do business with
you, if you can make things right," says Gallagher. "So thank him or
her for giving you that chance and assure him that you want to do
everything you can to make him happy."
• Don't go over the top. If someone refers significant business to
you or is responsible for a healthy percentage of your revenues, it's
certainly appropriate to offer thanks by way of an expensive treat,
say, dinner at an upscale restaurant or sports event tickets. Just be
honest about offering no-strings-attached thanks, and don't try to
pitch business, which will turn the client off.
Dr. Rick Crandall, professor at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and
author of Marketing Your Services for People Who Hate to Sell, writes that
people complain more than they praise. According to Crandall praising, or saying
“thank you,” can help your business and create a favorable impression. It can
build and reinforce relationships — both business and personal. It can promote
growth, encourage teamwork and express your commitment and caring. It's a
subtle expression of the desire for an ongoing relationship.
June Van Klaveren, Compelling Communications Inc., author of The Edge Up,
offers informative information about thank you notes in her Web article, “The
Power of Thank You” at apply-mag.com
Here are some times to send thank you notes:
• after a positive and productive telephone discussion or a meeting
• after a presentation that you liked
• for a referral of business
• to a new employee
• for a job well done or for going the extra mile
• for an unexpected kindness
• to anyone who gives good service
• for friendship
Klaveren also offer some tips to make thank you note writing easier. She
suggests the following:
• Become aware of what you're really thankful for — your customers, your
family, your friends — and watch for situations that warrant a thank you
• Create a “Thank You Note Writing Kit” containing thank you postcards,
stamps and a pen. Keep it out in the open where it will remind you to write
• Make sure the note is sincere and meaningful. It doesn't have to be
lengthy. Keep it short and appreciative.
• Focus on using “you” more than “me” or “I.” It shows that the focus of the
card is on the receiver's generosity.
• In the note, comment on how it made you feel to receive the gift or
kindness. Express hope for the future as in “I look forward to having fun
working with you.”
• If you absolutely can't think of what to say or how to say it, go to
www.writeexpress.com/thank-you.htm to get help writing a thank you.
• Make a habit of writing thank you notes. You'll stand out from your
competition and create a favorable impression.
There is probably no faster way or least expensive means to create goodwill than
in the act of thanking another. It has the power to build the priceless condition of
loyalty in someone or the ability to bring about new opportunities. Extending
sincere gratitude and appreciation for the work someone has done bolsters the
spirit of both the receiver and recipient in the exchange. Don’t miss the
opportunities to build in-roads through the act of thanking another. This courtesy
is useful in all areas of life and among all people. Gratitude knows no boundaries.
“Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone.” - G.B. Stern, British author