Yesterday afternoon, I went through an experience that left me quite admittedly bewildered.
Some sort of miscommunication over a claim had arisen between my insurance company and doctor that resulted in me being sent a bill for some ungodly amount of money to cover a basic check-up. Thus, I was left with the unhappy task of having to call my provider, no doubt to sit on hold for at least a decade until finally being connected to the surliest customer service representative this side of Mos Eisley spaceport.
And yet, pretty much the exact opposite happened. I sat on hold for a minimal amount of time. The woman who answered was kind, patient, and understanding. My issue was resolved promptly after she went above and beyond to find the root of the problem.
It was amazing. As horrific as bad customer service calls can be (looking at you, Comcast), the positive ones feel so much better. I went in thinking I'd be dragged through the depths of insurance hell. Instead, I came away feeling a bright sense of, "hey, the world's not such a bad place after all."
So what's the point of this anecdote? My immediate thought after hanging up was "how can I really express my thanks?" That's when I turned to the mode of communication most preferred by characters on Downton Abbey (as well as your cat-ridden great-aunt): the handwritten note.
There's a lovely piece over at The Huffington Post right now all about when and how to write the perfect thank you card. It's well worth a read if you want to know more about note etiquette, but the main thing I took away is that nothing will express your gracious appreciation quite like a handwritten note. It's a gesture both classy and thoughtful. Jotting down even a few words expresses to the recipient that you took time out of your day to do something for them.
As for when thank you notes are appropriate, there's hardly a context in which one would be deemed inappropriate. In fact, you should send one along whenever you interview for a job or open a gift in the absence of the giver. In my case above, my experience was so refreshing that I want the company to reward the employee who had answered my call. If more people sent thank you notes every time a worker made their day, good employees in all industries would be more appreciated by their companies. Everytime someone goes above and beyond for you, taking time to send a thank you note to the corporate office says "I want this to be the norm every time I call."
And that's reason enough to take 5 minutes and a 46 cent stamp to pass along your gratitude.
Read more at Huffington Post
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