Have You Thanked Anyone Lately? Going Beyond Recommendation Letters and References

Most professionals are well versed on the need to acquire business references and LinkedIn recommendations, and hopefully are just as accommodating in offering them to business associates. Although, an often overlooked opportunity to acknowledge and support someone in their career is the classic “thank you” letter. These are especially meaningful to people outside of your network, and can carry a lot of weight at review time for the recipient, as they are unsolicited.
Managers of employees who are spotlighted for their efforts recognize the sender has gone to a lot of effort to get an email or letter in front of them, and place value on the feedback. Additionally, individuals can keep copies for their “kudos” file. Service workers are great candidates for thank you letters. We are often quick to complain about poor service, and maybe are pretty good about a verbal thank you, but taking the time to send a formal thank you is rare.

When sending a thank you letter, as with references, make specific points as to why you are sending the letter and what the employee did to deserve the acknowledgment. These should not be used for basic customer service, but for someone who has gone above and beyond, and you should describe the event in detail. My thank you notes are typically at least three paragraphs long, and are formally structured even when emailed. Try to send a copy to the individual also, as they may never know otherwise.

Here is a brief sampling of thank you letters/emails I have sent recently to provide some ideas:

I had an elevated service ticket for problems with my cell phone. After numerous pass arounds, a tech spent 90 minutes resolving every issue, even calling back when the call was dropped. I sent an email to his manager.
When I returned clothes bought online from a catalog retailer, my package was never received. After several calls that went no where, I found a CSR that thought of creative ways to determine what was owed and pushed for approval. She could not give me her manager’s email, but offered her number. I called the manager and explained what I was trying to do and she provided her email address. I also got the CSR’s personal email and sent her a copy.
I emailed my favorite restaurant to commend my regular waiter of several years. They emailed back and said they would pass it on. They didn’t, but I emailed my waiter a copy of the note for his file as documentation.

I challenge every reader to send out one thank you letter within the next month. If someone takes extra time to help you resolve a problem, return the courtesy by taking the time to send their manager a thank you. Even if they don’t get a bonus or a promotion as a result, it will make them feel appreciated during difficult economic times when rewards are scarce at most companies. BOLA TANGKAS