Are Thank You Notes to Business Customers Silly?

Gazelle Sports
Gazelle Sports

Last weekend, I ran a 5K and it was very apparent that I needed new running shoes. Being that I’m not an expert runner (except in my own mind), I usually go to a department store, try on a few shoes, and buy a pair at a reasonable price.

This time, I took the advice of one of my running buddies and headed to Gazelle Sports in Grand Rapids, MI.  The customer service experience that I had was truly a experience, but in the “real world.”  The customer service skills of the staff were superb and they connected with me on a personal level that engaged me as a customer, not just processed me through their system.

The Positive Customer Experience Engaged Me Immediately

I entered and we immediately greeted by two people who directed me to where the running shoes are.  Josh then found me looking at a variety of shoes and offered his assistance.  He listened to my concerns about my feet, special arch support needs, and had me take my shoes off and watched me walk around for a few minutes to see how my feet actually moved in action.  He brought me four pairs of shoes to try on and explained the benefits of each pair.

He also spent a great deal of time speaking with me about my running the race that morning, the pain I have in my IT band, my plans to run a 1/2 Marathon in the fall, and finding a training schedule for me.

Now, like Zappos, Gazelle does not typically sell discount shoes and has sales infrequently.  That being said, the benefits they offer far outweigh the higher sticker price.  At least three times during the trying on phase, Jose reminded me that I could run with the shoes for a few weeks, and if they did not feel “just right” I could exchange them for a different pair that would work for me.

I left the store with a new pair of running shoes, a sense of excitement for my next run, and an appreciation of a good customer experience and the knowledge that excellent customer service skills are not lost on those companies that truly value their customers.

The Final Touch

This post could end there, but they took it one step further.  Yesterday in the mail, I received a handwritten Thank You note from Josh.  He thanked me for letting him help me, hoped that my new shoes fit me well, reminded me to stretch like we spoke about, and wished me luck in my training.  This Thank You note connected the final “Dot” on the Customer Service Skills.  It further deepened the good feeling that I had by doing business with them in the first place.

So the answer to the title of this post is – NO, Thank You notes are not silly. I’ve not met a person yet who was not thrilled to get the Thank You note that they considered to be the icing on the cake of the customer service experience.

The first thing that people have said when I tell them I bought my shoes as Gazelle is “Aren’t they a little pricey?” I say that they really are competitive for “real” running shoes and that the level of service that they give convinces me not to try on 10 different pairs of shoes in a department store, left on my own to wonder if these shoes are good for my feet, and with the anxiety that I will be stuck with these shoes if I run outside and discover that I can’t actually run in them.  The customer service experience has been well thought out by their leadership team and they have developed that loyal customer base that all companies strive to achieve.

4 Replies to “Are Thank You Notes to Business Customers Silly?”

  1. Kristina-
    This is a great article. With the society turning to an email driven society it is awesome that he took the time to write a hand written thank you. The relationship building he is starting will make you go back for a second purchase and the individualized service will bring more customers into the store for the same experience that you had.

    Maybe I should take up running. lol.

    Kym Erickson says:
    1. That’s right Kym. I’ll absolutely go back to them and will make a point to ask for Josh because he engaged me not only as a customer, but as a person with a shared passion for running. So, in a sense, he has become my friend in that store and we usually seek out our friends as resources for help or information.

      Thanks for the comment. I’m looking forward to seeing more of them.


  2. I have recently completed my first 100 days with a new employer, managing their marketing, sales, and customer experience functions. One initiative that I have implemented is the committment that we would repoly to EVERY customer experience with a handwritten thank you note, regardless of whether that individual chooses to business with us.

    Clearly, this is not a new tactic. On the contrary, I have heard it emphasized countless times in customer service training in the past 25 years. The shocking thing is just how seldomly it is actually practiced with any consistency! Of course, that’s ALSO one of the reasons why such a simple gesture still has so much power to differentiate an organization from its competitors!

    1. Hi Brian,

      The simple act of sending a Thank You note truly tells customers, potential or existing, that you are looking to create a personal connection with them. Technology has served us well. However, the speed of email has seemed to override the feelings evoked from getting a response in a personal manner such as a handwritten note, phone call, or personal visit.

      It’s all about creating the experience that the customer remembers AFTER they have left our environment. Every effort that is made to positively engage the customer at every contact point, even on the way out, will serve both you and your customers well.

      Thanks for the comment. They are always appreciated.

      Helping you serve your customers with excellence,


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