TD Canada Trust and Samsung Remember to Give Thanks

“Thank you.” These two little words are so easy to say, but some marketers seem to have a hard time remembering to say them. What’s more, they appear to forget that paying it forward can have big payoffs, including customer acquisition, word of mouth, and loyalty. Here are two recent examples of how companies–specifically Samsung and TD Canada Trust–showed their customers gratitude and were reminded of the importance of giving thanks.

Gratitude for the Galaxy

Two weeks ago my boyfriend and I went to Barclays Center, an entertainment and sporting arena in Brooklyn, to attend Cirque du Soleil’s performance of Varekai. I had come straight from the airport after a quick jaunt to San Francisco and hadn’t had a chance to grab a bite. Still, I was dreading forking over some serious cash just for a bag of popcorn and a soda—after all, my boyfriend and I live on a journalist’s and teacher’s budget.

As we entered the arena, a Samsung brand ambassador approached us and asked if we wanted to download Samsung’s Owner Hub app. After living in New York for a little more than two years, I’ve developed this instinctual twitch to just swat away any offer presented to me on the street. Also, as an iPhone owner, I knew that the app wouldn’t be relevant to me. My boyfriend, on the other hand, has a Samsung Galaxy (it’s a point of contention in our relationship) and decided to give her pitch a listen.

Here’s the gist of it: Galaxy owners can download the Samsung Owner’s Hub app through Google Play to participate in the Galaxy Owner’s Experience. After downloading the app, owners can tap their phone to the Samsung Galaxy Owner signage device to redeem instant rewards, including food vouchers, seat upgrades, free merchandise, music downloads, and even access to VIP lounges and stadium suites. The rewards are on a first-come-first-served basis, the brand ambassador explained. So the earlier Galaxy owners get to the arena, the more likely they are to get a grander prize.

Not one to ignore a killer marketing opportunity, I later followed up with Colleen McDuffe, senior director of digital marketing for Samsung. She informed me that Samsung created the Samsung Owner’s Hub app in April 2013 to offer Galaxy owners a source for device tips, how-to videos, free music tracks, and exclusive content. The Apple rival then decided to expand the experience by partnering with entertainment and sports presenter AEG for the instant reward pilot program this past spring. Samsung is able to offer Galaxy owners rewards by embedding near field communication technology (NFC), a contact communication method, into its signage device, McDuffe explained.

“Our consumers are our first priority, and we’re always looking to create new and surprising experiences to reward our owners,” she says. “It’s important that our consumers are able to connect with our brand and feel part of the Galaxy family to hopefully create a deeper connection and true fans of the brand for a long time.”

So, what happened next? My boyfriend downloaded the app and redeemed a $5-off instant concession coupon. My grumbling stomach was ecstatic, and I quickly slipped my iPhone into my back-pocket as we went to redeem our prize (notice how I said our prize). In a way, both Samsung and AEG benefit from this partnership: Samsung strengthens its customer loyalty and AEG gets us to spend more money at their venues (the $5 didn’t cover our popcorn and soda craving).

On the way to our seats, with us already digging into the buttery-coated goodness, my boyfriend mentioned how Apple would never do a stunt like the one Samsung had just pulled. I told him that he was right (which doesn’t happen often), but that Apple had such a religious following that it didn’t need to go the extra mile. Still, I appreciated my boyfriend’s patronage as I popped another kernel in my mouth.

Although McDuffe declined to disclose the program’s initial results, this past July Samsung rolled out its pilot program to 41 other venues. Based on that roll-out, and my focus group of one, it seems to be a success. My boyfriend had previously discussed switching to Apple once the iPhone 6 came out and he could get a better deal, but it’s safe to say that Samsung’s gratitude gift made him think twice about his move—and those results speak for themselves.

Customer appreciation that makes cents

Like Samsung, TD Canada Trust, the Canadian retail bank of TD Bank Group, knows that a little recognition goes a long way. According to Chris Stamper, SVP of corporate marketing for TD Bank Group, there are only five large financial institutions in Canada. So TD Canada needs to do everything that it can to stand out and acquire and retain business. Over the years TD Canada has done just that. In fact, the bank received the highest numerical score among the five retail banks in the 2014 proprietary J.D. Power 2006-2014Canadian Retail Banking Customer Satisfaction Studies.

But Stamper says that TD Canada wanted to thank its customers in a new way and kick its appreciation up a notch. As a result, the brand launched a new ATM—the Automated Thanking Machine—on July 25.

The Automated Thanking Machine isn’t a standard ATM. When customers approached the machine and inserted their cards, thinking they were testing a new ATM feature, the machine began addressing them personally and thanking them for being a TD Canada customer. But more than just kind words were exchanged. Sometimes the Automated Thanking Machine dispensed cash. For instance, it gave a young boy who was a new customer $50 to add to his account. Other times, the machine shelled out larger, more sentimental gifts, including flowers, tickets to Disney Land for a mom to treat her children to a vacation, and a plane ticket to Trinidad for a woman who had been sending money to support her ailing daughter who lives there.

TD Canada had only six weeks to build the Automated Thanking Machine. The brand set up cameras in the bank, and put someone inside of the machine who could see what was going on. In terms of deciding which customers to thank, Stamper says that TD Canada asked its branch staff to think of people who were deserving of a little extra appreciation. The bank also analyzed customers’ tenure and banking relationship to get a wide-range of patrons.

However, TD Canada didn’t want its other customers to feel unappreciated, so the bank launched a cross-channel thank-you initiative. Understanding that all customers transact differently, TD Canada gave $20 to every customer who was interacted with TD Canada online, over the phone, or in person within a branch with a specific time frame. In fact, TD Canada thanked more than 30,000 people within a five-minute window. TD Canada was able to share the social sentiment by posting and monitoring messages on its networks with the hashtag #TDThanksYou.

“We wanted to acknowledge [our customers] and we wanted to acknowledge that without them we don’t have the success that we have,” Stamper says. “It was really a chance to give back and also hopefully a chance for them to pass on and say thank you to somebody else, because sometimes you just want to say thank you. That was the theme of the campaign.”

Not only did the campaign allow TD Canada to show its appreciation for its customers, but it also reinforced how customers feel about the bank, Stamper says. He encourages other marketers to partake in the same two-way exchange.

“Without their customers, [companies are] really nothing,” he says. “The customers are everything….It’s incumbent on every brand to be able to stop and say thank you and appreciate what they have and the customer base that they have.”

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