Retro isn’t only in fashion on the catwalk, but also in regards to customer service. Earlier this month, wireless carrier Sprint kicked off an initiative in which employees regularly take the time out of their schedule to send handwritten thank you notes to customers. The company has sent close to 500,000 handwritten notes thus far, which not only thank customers for their loyalty to Sprint, but also contain an offer of 25% off of any accessory just for bringing the handwritten note into a retail Sprint store.
Handwritten notes have been a staple of the luxury industry for some time now, as referenced in the Loyalty Management article published earlier this year titled “How Luxury Brands Can Reinvent the Customer Experience”. In this piece, VIPdesk’s SVP of Sales & Marketing Mark Robeson referenced the use of handwritten correspondence by luxury brands including Fendi and Montblanc. This type of handwritten communication is a proven method of developing a bond between a brand and its customers. Personally, I have received handwritten notes from small local retailers such as jewelry stores, however I was surprised to see not only a non-luxury brand but a telecommunications provider embracing the power of personal correspondence.
Sprint’s commitment to personal outreach was introduced by the company’s CEO Dan Hesse, upon an employee’s suggestion. The campaign has been embraced by the entire Sprint team from the top down—not only has Hesse has been sending out notes himself, but the company has also implemented “Thank You Thursdays” on which all employees are asked to write at least five notes.
Until about six months ago, I had been a Sprint customer for many years (as an aside, I changed providers merely for the convenience gained by joining my husband on a family account with another provider, it had nothing to do with Sprint’s performance/service). I knew that the company was discontinuing its customer loyalty program, Sprint Premiere, at the end of 2011 and feared that to be an indication of a decreased corporate focus on customer relationship management. Instead, it appears that just the opposite is the case and I applaud Sprint for their commitment to this personal form of customer outreach (especially given that this is a company that I would expect would be promoting communication via channels more in line with their core business model—phone, e-mail, text message, etc.).
When I think about the time that it would take me to write five legible thank-you notes (reportedly Sprint advises employees that thank you notes should be written slowly and legibly), and then look at the overall time commitment that it would take to write nearly half of a million legible thank-you notes, I am impressed. To me, this shows that Sprint realizes the long-term value of a personal relationship between customer and brand.