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How Handwritten Notes Trigger Reciprocity in a Sharing Community
Fewer and fewer people are writing handwritten notes today – they’ve forgotten how powerful it is to hold something in your hands rather than simply checking their email inboxes. Handwritten notes in business convey the message that you are important to the person who took the time to write them. Once they’ve moved into your circle of influence, your fan base grows.
Additionally, fewer people are getting out as much as they used to. Mental Health America reports that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused people to feel detached or dissociated from their surroundings. There is a thirst for direct contact with anyone – with you.
An era when avoidance feels more common makes handwritten notes one of the best ways to get in touch with people and get their attention. People are tired of being bombarded with emails; handwritten notes engage the recipient in more meaningful ways and are something they desire.
According to SmallBizTrends, emails get opened 20 percent of the time, whereas handwritten notes get opened 99 percent. As a result of inundating people with emails for years and years, they have changed how they view their inboxes.
They assume emails are junk, spam, or irrelevant. The chances of someone opening a handwritten note are almost 100 percent. Building trust begins there.
Reciprocity in the Sharing Community
We are all smack dab in the middle of a sharing community. People share on blogs, social media, websites, forums, review sites and many many more. If there’s one thing you can depend on it’s that if you upset a client they’ll hit every platform they can to tell others of their bad experience.
But, you can stop that from happening.
When someone is negatively influenced by your company or product, don’t, for a moment, think they’ll just disappear if you ignore them. First off, they want to know you’re listening and they want to know what you’re going to do to solve the problem.
Here’s where a handwritten note comes into play. Send upset customers handwritten notes with a gift card or coupon included and accept the blame for what’s occurred. You may write:
We received your message saying the soap you ordered from us was delivered to your home in pieces. Whether this occurred at the warehouse or during delivery doesn’t matter; we want to make this right.
Included is a coupon for 2 FREE bars of soap with free shipping and handling for your trouble. We apologize this happened, especially considering the soap was a gift. We hope you give us a chance to prove our product’s quality and our dedication to our customers.
Feel free to contact us if you need anything.
Jack Smith, CEO
I can’t tell you how many colleagues tell me they “KNOW” handwritten notes work, but they don’t have the time to send them. If that’s the case, these customers will definitely take their time to drag your business name through the mud wherever they can.
It’s More Than a Business Transaction: The Power of Handwritten Notes
What I really want to get into is the impact handwritten notes have on people that’s beyond anything business-related. People need these notes. They need to be reminded there’s a world out there completely separate from the things they buy, the jobs they work, the meals they cook, the children they raise. They need to be people acknowledged by people in a world where, thanks to Covid and technology, human interaction has almost disappeared.
Airbnb is a company that’s been neck-deep in customer satisfaction since the beginning. It all started with two hosts welcoming three guests into their home in 2007.
More than 14 years later, there are four million hosts on Airbnb, and hosts have earned more than $110 billion. How did that happen? Reciprocity.
According to a study in Quantitative Marketing and Economics, you get what you give. In our sharing economy, people are highly responsive to the idea of reciprocity. The study concluded, “We show that Airbnb hosts that are more reciprocal receive higher ratings and that higher rated hosts can increase their prices.”
When the host gives to the boarder, and they enjoy what they’ve received, they will reciprocate that goodness back to the host, often as a highly-rated review or return business. That’s exactly what you want, right?
But, even that’s a business transaction. We know handwritten notes work in these settings, what’s more difficult to understand is the why.
According to Current Psychology, “… basic psychological need satisfaction mediates the associations between generalized reciprocity and autonomous motivation…” What’s that mean? It means that when you fulfill someone’s basic needs, that need for personal connection, they’re automatically motivated toward your business or to you as a person.
Pew Research claims 89% of people have experienced “at least one negative change in their own lives,” thanks to Covid. The biggest negative appears to be the mental impact of distancing from society – things like loneliness and withdrawal. People lost human contact and the effects of that carry over to today as we’re still fighting the virus.
Now imagine mailboxes packed with mass-printed flyers, bills and other standard mail. Then, they see their name and address handwritten on an envelope and a real Forever stamp.
That’s going to be opened. They want to know who took the time to recognize them. And it’s that recognition that people are longing for. They’re lonely!
According to Frontiers in Psychology, “Loneliness is a subjective unpleasant experience and refers to dissatisfaction with the discrepancy between an individual’s preferred and actual social relationships. It is a psychological manifestation of social isolation—commonly experienced at times of change—and is associated with adverse impacts on mental and physical health…”
The Time Has Come to Recognize What People Really Want
People are lonely. People are sad. People have lost a LOT and though they may appear whole on the outside, research shows the effect of the pandemic has left them in a state of need.
They need businesses to do more than blatantly ask for a sale. They need businesses to care about them as a person and handwritten notes show you do.
If you’re worried about crafting handwritten letters and handwritten cards, check out AI-handwriting robots that hold real pens and churn out automated handwritten notes.
To close it out, I’ll leave you with a quote from Van Lange, “With direct reciprocity, [businesses] receive (sometimes delayed) benefits directly from the individual they helped.”