Thank you: Two powerful words that aren’t used enough in business

When was the last time you thanked a customer or client for their business? No, I don’t mean saying a perfunctory thank you at the end of a meeting or phone call. I mean really thanking someone for continuing to choose your company to do business with out of all the other possibilities out there?

I believe this type of thank you isn’t said nearly enough in business these days. Perhaps it’s because we’re all so overscheduled and so busy multi-tasking that saying thank you in a meaningful way just gets lost in the shuffle. Or in some instances, business relationships have gone on for so long that we just no longer bother to say thank you.

But I also believe a genuine, heart-felt  thank you now and then can go a long way toward solidifying a business relationship. Nobody likes to be taken for granted, certainly not your clients or customers. Saying thank you from time to time lets those who do business with you know you truly appreciate that they choose you from the many options available to them.

Ways to say thanks

•  Say it on your invoice. Some years ago, I read an article that suggested adding a thank you to invoices. It sounded like sage advice, so ever since then my invoices have included this line in a prominent place: “Thanks for doing business with Tuscarora Communications, Ltd.” Each month as I’m doing my billing I notice the line and it reminds me to feel grateful toward my clients, a gratitude that I hope comes through in my dealings with them.

•  Especially say it for referrals. My business has been built largely on recommendations from clients and colleagues. When I receive a referral, I especially go out of my way to thank the client or colleague it came from. I then keep them in the loop as to what’s happening with the referral and, if it produces an assignment for me, I often send a small token of gratitude–a book or a CD, for example–to the person who made the referral. Even a hand-written thank-you card goes a long way since so few people take the time to send such cards these days. People are delighted by this small surprise and they also truly appreciate learning that their referral turned into business for me.

In my experience, I’ve found that most business people truly like being able to help other business people; it creates a good feeling to know you’ve done someone good turn. So by saying thank you in whatever way you can and letting referral sources know how things turned out, you foster a good feeling that might even produce yet more referrals for you!

• Give back. If you have nonprofits on your client roster, nothing says thank you like a donation to the cause. I make it a policy to do this for every nonprofit I work with. It invariably produces a comment from the client, which gives me a chance to explain that it was my way of saying thank you for their business. This is something nonprofit clients remember, believe me. Even if you’re offering a lower hourly rate to the nonprofit, a donation still is in order.

•  Practice random acts of kindness. I frequently send clients articles I come across that might be of special interest to them. Not only may the information you share in this way be helpful to your client, but sending them the article lets them know you’re thinking of them. Do this all the time, even when a client relationship has been dormant for a while. This act of thoughtfulness tells the client you’re staying on top of their area of interest and reminds them of how helpful you were the last time you worked together.

Those are just a few ways you can let your clients know you appreciate them. I’m sure you have other ideas on this topic, so let me know how you say thanks.

Oh, and thanks for reading my blog. I really appreciate it.

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