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The Lost Art of Handwritten Hospitality

Hand written notes seem to have gone to the wayside over the years. Advancement in technology has provided us opportunities for immediate communication. While instant connections provide advanced productivity, organizational management, marketing, and social connections there is an obvious lack of personal touch through it. This isn’t just here say, its science! A recent study from the Journal of Services Marketing found that:

“Handwritten messages are more effective than print messages in building relationships in a service context because they elicit stronger feelings of warmth because of both the perception of greater effort and feelings of greater psychological closeness to the service provider. However, the presence of handwriting fails to deliver feelings of warmth when the quality of core services is low.”*

It may seem a bit ridiculous that a study was conducted to determine how customers relate to different formats of written communication, but the end results really aren’t too surprising. Given that the overall service provided is good, a handwritten note communicates two things outright: Effort and closeness.

A handwritten note requires just a bit more intentionality than typing out a text or email. You must sit down long enough to write a note in pen, find an envelope and stamp, put it in the mailbox, and wait a few days for the recipient to receive it. We may be tempted to think, “What a hassle!!”, but hospitality in business (and the rest of life) requires a bit of hassle on our part if it is to be done well.

The other noted consequence of handwritten communication with customers is an idea of “closeness” or personal connection. If hospitality is a goal of any business, the personal well-being of customers should be one of the biggest priorities. Well-cared for customers come back, again and again, to a business that treats them kindly and shows appreciation. Just as a genuine smile from a customer representative can say much more than it initially seems, a note written in pen can also enhance the message that the customer is of great value.

I challenge you to practice hospitality this week through intentional and personal notes of kindness. Write a long-time customer how grateful you are for their loyalty. Perhaps you know of a customer who has been going through a difficult time who would be encouraged by a note. While this blog post has focused primarily on communicating with customers, don’t forget about employees, fellow business owners, and your next door neighbors! Everyone could use a little more handwritten hospitality this week.

Hospitality In Action Tip:

Show extravagant gratitude to your customers by sending a hand-written note. Hospitality is never out of style.

*Xingyao Ren, Lan Xia, Jiangang Du, (2018) "Delivering warmth by hand: customer responses to different formats of written communication", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 32 Issue: 2, pp.223-234,


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