I received a thank-you note in the mail the other day. A card in a smaller envelope was sure to catch my attention. Handwritten, too. Amid all the junk and bills, that note promised something positive, a brief respite from the otherwise tedious mail. “What a pleasure,” I thought. So I jumped to open it.
When I opened the card and began reading the message, I was struck by the uniformity of the handwriting. Every “e” was shaped exactly like every other “e.” Every “s” looked exactly like every other “s.” In every instance, each letter was a perfect duplicate, each time it was used.
That’s when it struck me. The note wasn’t handwritten. It was computer generated.
I stress how important thank-you notes are in building positive relationships. Handwriting connotes a personal touch that says to the recipient, “You are important to me — important enough that I’m taking the time to handwrite this note to you. I appreciate you.” By forming the letters on the page, you are putting something of yourself into the note. Through your writing you touch the recipient. You build the relationship.
The sender clearly wanted to appear as if he had written the note, when in fact he hadn’t. He wanted me to believe that he appreciated my business so much that he took the time out of his busy day to write me a note.
Great, except for the subterfuge revealed by the computer-generated writing. That, in a nutshell, is the problem with these fake handwritten notes. The perfectly formed writing is meant to look hand-done, but it lacks sincerity, and sincerity matters.
When you are sincere, people will have confidence in you. That confidence builds trust. Business is built on trust. It takes time to build trust. But it takes only one act to lose it, and gaining it back again can be hard.
Now, will that computer-generated “handwritten” note cause me to lose trust in the writer? Probably not. But it is one little chink in our relationship. Something that might give me pause. If someone else, a competitor for instance, sent a note that really was handwritten, who stands out?
My advice: Write the note by hand. If your handwriting is poor, type the note, include a short, handwritten message at the bottom, and sign it.