Penmanship is not a strength of mine. I write in blocky, inconsistent capital letters. I usually joke about writing like a doctor– now if I could just get paid like one! Despite my fault- and even my insecurity- I still hand-write hundreds of notes each and every year.
As the funeral industry adapts to meet a market shifting from burial to cremation, maintaining true value amid decreasing revenue presents a challenge set in unfamiliar territory. To extend the analogy, the journey has its Jacobs and Calebs and its ten other guys; an entire blog could explore the topic!
Through this recalibration, we’ve found something remarkably simple that really works to express value through genuine relationships: good old-fashioned hand-written notes. In our client-family satisfaction surveys, they are without a doubt the most-mentioned items in open-response sections. In fact, often our notes yield thank-you notes of their own!
Why? Because hand-written notes, even in at-least-legible chicken scratch, are personal in a world trending the other way. People yearn for human connection, especially in a time of loss. Because you’ve poured your heart through a ballpoint pen and made yourself vulnerable to mistakes and even scrutiny, your client will appreciate the sincerity of your effort.
Great notes should:
Acknowledge and Appreciate
In sales situations, this comes easy. When your service requires more tact than “Thank you for your business,” your note must acknowledge the wisdom or contribution of a client’s choices. It may simply acknowledge an important relationship anniversary. In our case, the note must acknowledge the loss of a loved one and the value in the client’s choice to honor him or her. The note must also express genuine appreciation for the privilege of serving your client. Both of these components must be handled with the details of the client’s needs and the service you provided in mind. Using general, canned phrases is no better than buying generic, pre-printed cards.
Continue a Genuine, Personal Connection
If you’ve done your job during the consultation or sales process, you share a special bond with your client. Use your note to build on this. The key word is genuine. Allow your heart to speak through the note and keep your tone as human as possible. Speak to the client’s individual situation and be sure to include personal details that show you care.
Extend the Experience
I’ve written about experiences that resonate. Since this hand-written note may be your last contact with the client, you want to make sure that it resonates with her. She should think “Wow! He hasn’t forgotten me or my family!” A great hand-written note gives a client’s experience the end-point it deserves while solidifying a relationship that will bring her back to you the next time a need arises. Without a strong exclamation point, the experience will simply fade away.
Hand-written notes don’t just apply to the business world. Boxes of stationery and note cards are inexpensive investments. Start a habit of sending notes after meetings or parties and see how your relationships benefit. The payoff may be slow in coming, but it is monumental in scope.
In the comments: When is the last time you received a hand-written note? Do you make hand-writing notes a habit?