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Famous Last Words : The Raw Power of the Letter

February 2013 By Denny Hatch
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HATCH: So you won't do anything to help me.

BANKER: This is their fault. Ask them.

I left the bank with a pain in my gut. Would I be unable to work for this client because TD Bank would not take the money?

Combating Poor Customer Service
Back home I composed a letter to Bharat B. Masrani, president and CEO of TD Bank Group in Portland, Maine. It was a formal complaint vs. TD Bank and the turkey who refused to help me. I recounted precisely what happened, including the exchange above. I assembled a fat packet of supporting documents and copied the six TD Bank executive vice presidents who were listed on the website.

I printed out the letter, attached all the exhibit documents and stuck the Post-It note (see mediaplayer at right) on the upper right of the letter to CEO Masrani. I then marched into the bank. The guy in question was with a customer, so I handed the letter to another officer who was playing with a customer's dog. I pointed to the officer who caused me the previous miseries and asked that the letter be handed to him. The doggie man nodded and I left.

This was fortuitous. Another officer saw the letter, and soon it would be the gossip of the branch.

Within a half hour, the branch manager called me from far out of town where she was on holiday and asked: "Did Mr. [NAME] call the bank's wire service department while you were sitting there?"

"He didn't call anybody."

"That's not right," she said. "I'll speak to him. Meanwhile, I'll be back in three days and will follow up on this and get you your money."

She did.

I never had to send the letter.

"Of all the formats used in direct mail," wrote the late catalog guru Dick Hodgson, "none has more power to generate action than the letter."

That's snail mail, not email.

What's more, just the threat of a letter can be as effective as actually sending a letter.

Denny Hatch is a direct marketing copywriter, designer, consultant and the author of six books on marketing, "CAREER-CHANGING TAKEAWAYS" being the most recent. Visit him at dennyhatch.com, or contact him at dennyhatch@yahoo.com.


 
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COMMENTS

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Most Recent Comments:
Tcat Houser - Posted on February 26, 2013
LOL! Thank you! I may be old and not old fashioned ;) . I love and live by the modern ways (its my livelihood). Yet Snail Mail (with a Delivery Confirmation) still works for attention. I recently went to buying postage on line. I *really* like your tip about the 'shot across the bow'. I will remember that.
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Archived Comments:
Tcat Houser - Posted on February 26, 2013
LOL! Thank you! I may be old and not old fashioned ;) . I love and live by the modern ways (its my livelihood). Yet Snail Mail (with a Delivery Confirmation) still works for attention. I recently went to buying postage on line. I *really* like your tip about the 'shot across the bow'. I will remember that.