Shep Hyken\'s Customer Service Blog

The Power of a Personal Handwritten Note

There is a lot of power in a handwritten, personal note. This isn’t just about a thank you note to a customer, although those are important as well. This is also about the note of appreciation to someone who has done a great job or hit their goals. You get the idea. Anything you might want to congratulate them on.

Ted Janusz is one of our amazing trainers at Shepard Presentations. He was conducting a half-day customer service workshop, and during a break, the client, who happened to be the president of the company, walked up to Ted and congratulated him on doing a great job. He mentioned how impressed he was that Ted had done his homework to truly learn about the company, their issues and their objectives. Of course, Ted was flattered and very appreciative of the kind words.

Two hours later, when the program was finished, the president of the company wrapped up the day, again congratulating Ted on job well done. But there was more.

As Ted was leaving the president handed Ted an envelope. No, it wasn’t the check for the presentation. It was a personal handwritten note, again expressing his appreciation for a job well done and the obvious work that he put into personalizing it for his company. Ted couldn’t wait to share it with us. He was so proud of the note, and who wouldn’t be?

When was the last time you received an accolade from your boss, a colleague at work, or even a customer? How did it make you feel? Some people who get notes from people they work with save them, because they are special. They have impact.

Years ago, I wrote about my client and friend, Glenn Brown, who at the time was CEO of Contract Freighters, Inc. (CFI), a trucking company. He had a stack of cards and was using them to write notes to employees who deserved accolades or had a birthday or anniversary. He mentioned to me that he tries to write a short note to his employees who don’t get to see him at the office at least twice a year. He said, “It lets them know I appreciate them, even though we never see each other.” Many of CFI’s employees are truck drivers that seldom, if ever, make it into the office. Glenn knew how to make them feel good about working at CFI.

Sure, there are other ways to show appreciation. Verbal praise, an email, a small gift, an appreciation lunch for employees and more. All of those are great signs of appreciation, and I’m not suggesting giving up any of those. However, after seeing how much Ted appreciated the note from our client, which made me think back to Glenn Brown, I believe the handwritten note takes a gesture of appreciation to the next level.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact or For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

(Copyright © MMXVII, Shep Hyken)


  1. In the insurance world opportunities to do this happen daily. Write a note to recap a conversation and thank the person for their time, recognize when a parent provides proof that their child is a good student, kids don’t just turn out great. Let parents know! Thank someone for a referral even if it doesn’t work out. There are lots of chances to be great!

    • Thank you, Jamie. Glad you enjoyed the article. And, while the handwritten note is powerful, almost any type of acknowledgement, be it a written note, a phone call, an email, etc. is powerful.

  2. Shep, when I was working at the main location of a college bookstore, I tried this with “Appreciation Cards” back in 2013. I had read about the idea in a book by Lee Cockerell, and how he had written about the power of appreciating people. At the time, I was not even a supervisor – just a cashier hired temporarily for the Spring semester rush.
    I couldn’t believe the reaction those little cards caused! I got the impression that none of the longtime staff had EVER received a hand -done note from management! It was a bit embarrassing. since I was a newly-hired person who just wanted to say thanks for everyone’s help and what they did to keep the store going. Everyone I worked with at that time received one, since I felt that they all deserved a kind word for their work. Shep, the pen (or colored Sharpie!) is indeed a powerful tool!

  3. YAY LISA! Great story! Love that you have embraced the “power of the pen!” From the cashier at a college bookstore, to the CEO of a major company, a personal note is POWERFUL!

  4. Shep, when I was working at the fundamental area of a school book shop, I attempted this with “Thankfulness Cards” in 2013. I had perused about the thought in a book by Lee Cockerell, and how he had expounded on the energy of acknowledging individuals. At the time, I was not even a director – only a clerk enlisted incidentally for the Spring semester surge.

    I couldn’t trust the response those little cards caused! I got the feeling that none of the long-lasting staff had EVER gotten a hand – done note from administration! It was somewhat humiliating. since I was a recently contracted individual who simply needed to express profound gratitude for everybody’s assistance and what they did to keep the store going. Everybody I worked with around then got one, since I felt that they all merited a kind word for their work. Shep, the pen (or shaded Sharpie!) is in fact an effective device!

    • Hello Ayush – You figured it out! Congratulations! Keep doing what you’re doing. You’ll make others feel good and build up the people you work with. Stay amazing!

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