The Two Loneliest Words in Luxury Retail

Here’s a little wake-up call ...

Ouch. I’m noodling around with this notion because in the last 24 hours I’ve had to, let’s say “nudge,” three clients to do something they normally do with natural grace. Say the words “Thank you.”

When I was little, my mother insisted I handwrite thank you notes to anyone who ever gave me anything at any time. And let me just say, due to their station in life, I was the recipient of a LOT of Christmas and birthday presents throughout my childhood. Meaning, I wrote a LOT of thank you notes. I think I had my first personalized stationery at age ten, if that gives you an idea.

Early on, I learned The Essentials:

  • Be specific. Mention the item – a general “thanks for the Christmas gift” would get handed right back to me.
  • Be sincere. More than two sentences but not two paragraphs.
  • Be personal. Mention their name and that of anyone else associated with the gift – whether I saw them or not.
  • Be swift about it. Within two days. Or else.

As annoyed as I was then, my mother’s discipline has served me well in luxury retail.

We know – both by instinct and by research – that we all respond positively when we feel appreciated. Our self-worth shoots up and we’re more motivated to respond with loyalty and increased engagement. In the B2C arena, a sincere “thank you for your business” not only confirms to your client they made the right decision, but that their patronage is not taken for granted. And why would it be? With the unrelenting decline of brick-and-mortar retailers, it’s clear consumers are not feelin’ the love. Or even feeling noticed. (Cue melancholy music.)

Is the lack of verbalizing the words “thank you” a by-product of digital communication? When looking someone in the eye, “great to see you… enjoy your new diamond ring!” may come with a smile and handshake implying appreciation, but when written misses the sincerity mark. I don’t know about you, but if I’ve just spent $15K on a pair of earrings, a handwritten note in the mail including the actual words “thank you” would tell me, “wow, this firm really appreciates me.” Dare I say treasures me? I want to be treasured. Apparently, so do 86% of all consumers who are willing to pay more for a stellar customer experience. Frankly, my eBay purchases have come with more handwritten thank you notes than anything I’ve bought on Rodeo Drive. (Cue “Pretty Woman” music.)

Did you get a coveted mention in a magazine, newspaper or blog? Instantly express your gratitude directly to the editor/writer/blogger with a note and be sure to say, “thanks for the shout-out!” in your social media posts. Not only does that sit well with the publication, but it shows clients you are humble and grateful for any and all collaborations. And wouldn’t you rather work with someone you knew was both kind AND talented? Yep, I thought so.

Handwritten notes have gone the way of the dodo, you say. Jimmy Fallon clearly doesn’t think so. Beautiful paper that is rich and tactile reinforces both a luxury brand’s style and acknowledges that the client is worth every expression of appreciation at any cost. And for those of you who are murmuring that you don’t have another minute in the day for another task, tack this up on your bulletin board - engaging with customers will bring 40% more revenue from that very person.

If you are in the business of providing a luxury product or service, you’d better also be in the business of providing a luxurious customer experience. It’s noisy out there – make your relationships sing. Do you have a “thank you” story that knocked your socks off? Please share!

And thank you for hanging out with me. If I had your address, I’d sent you a note.

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