Is your firm paying attention to the two most important words in the English language?

Accounting

After a busy summer of traveling, I’ve come to realize that two of the most important words in the English dictionary are “thank you.” 

I bring this up because of an experience I had flying home from vacation on a regional airline recently with my wife and two young daughters (age four and seven). The flight attendant was incredibly friendly. She even had a conversation with my kids. 

I didn’t think much of it until about an hour into the flight, when she gave my wife an official airline postcard. On the back, the attendant wrote by hand: “Thanks so much for chatting with me today. Your little girls made my day. Safe travels.” And then she signed her name. 

That postcard made my wife’s day to say the least. And my girls (Olivia and Claire) loved it, too. At the end of the flight, as passengers prepared to exit the plane, we all hear the flight attendant’s announcement on the intercom: “Special thank you to Olivia and Claire for being such great fliers.” 

The regional airline was clearly making an effort to make better connections with their customers/travelers. I don’t know if flight attendants are required to write X number of thank you cards per flight, but they usually have some downtime mid-flight if they’re not doing food or beverage service. So why not deliver better service with something that might take 30 seconds? 

By the way, writing out thank you notes by hand — even if you don’t have great penmanship — makes a lasting impact in this digital age. It shows you’re not mass producing your sentiment and sending the same note to multiple people via direct mail or email. 

Great. So, what does this story have to do with managing your practice? 

Do you have thank you cards for your team, whether on personal stationery or corporate stationery? As part of your Monday meeting, you could ask each team member: “What thank you notes did you send out last week?”

Thank you notes could be sent to a referral source for making a great introduction. All too often we’re so busy we forget to thank people for a referral. You could be thanking a client or a vendor for helping you build a great strategic relationship. Sending out a thank you card is not only going to help you build better relationships, but it will make you more grateful and more thankful in general, which makes everyone happier. Having an attitude of gratitude is also essential if you believe in the law of karma, which says, “What goes around comes around.”

Even if you don’t believe in karma, a Harvard Health study determined that the simple act of saying “thank you” can lead you to a happier life. When you express your thankfulness to others, it not only makes others feel great, but it makes you feel great. It provides peace of mind and inner happiness.Finally, the biggest benefit of sending a thank you note is that you will likely stand out from the crowd. This simple act of etiquette and gratitude shows you care about the people you work with (and for) and reflects very well on your brand. It shows you’re willing to go the extra mile and reinforces your interest in that client, vendor, strategic partner or referral source. Writing a thank you note is also a great way to showcase your communication skills, which is incredibly important in any client service business. 

How can you develop more of a mindset of gratitude? One of the best ways I know is to have thank you cards at the ready. When you or your team senses there’s a chance to build a better relationship with a client, prospect or strategic partner, you don’t have to scramble around trying to find one. Just grab a pen, and scribble a few brief, sincere thoughts. It only takes a few minutes, but can provide years of goodwill.

My column The 64/4 rule has more about getting the maximum return on your time.

What’s your take on gratitude? I’d love to hear from you.

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