Thursday, July 7, 2016

Customer Appreciation: T-Mobile Tuesdays and the Power of a Free Frosty

For the past few weeks, my Tuesday routine has included driving a little out of my way to stop at Wendy’s to enjoy a delicious (and free!) Frosty.

A few weeks ago, T-Mobile began a massive customer appreciation program called “T-Mobile Tuesdays.” Every Tuesday, T-Mobile customers receive freebies, including a Frosty from Wendy’s, movie tickets from Fandango, movie rentals from Vudu, year-long magazine subscriptions, and free rides from Lyft. The roll out of T-Mobile Tuesdays demonstrates two important principles for business owners to consider when developing customer appreciation programs.

1. Make sure the program works.

To take part in T-Mobile Tuesdays, customers download the T-Mobile Tuesdays app and every Tuesday open the app and push a button to receive their Tuesday freebies. The app provides a quick and efficient way for customers to access their freebies and to see what rewards are coming up.

When the program officially began, I, like many other T-Mobile customers, downloaded the app, and on Tuesday (after receiving a notification from the app), opened the app and attempted to claim my freebies. All I received, for several hours, was an error message. Due to the massive customer response, the app didn’t work. According to a tweet from T-Mobile, the massive demand “created massive latency issues,” which, translated into common parlance, means that the app crashed. 

The app eventually began working and (some) folks were able to claim their awards, but the “latency issues” left many customers frustrated. This is precisely what business owners should try to avoid. Certainly, it’s a curious issue—customers being upset because they can’t access a freebie—yet, the creation of unsatisfied customers is the exact opposite of what any type of customer appreciation program seeks to create.

The takeaway? Whatever customer appreciation program you establish, make sure it works! Whether “it” involves a punch card, website, or app, make sure that your customers can access the platform and customer support should they have problems. 

2. Small rewards work. 

Sure, the T-Mobile Tuesdays app has had its issues, but its high demand shows that small rewards can make a big impact. While I would certainly love to win a free Caribbean vacation or Superbowl tickets, getting my free Frosty every Tuesday makes me happy. Getting a free Domino's pizza was so popular that Domino’s had to back out of their deal with T-Mobile because their stores were experiencing high demand that couldn’t be met. 

In the end, sometimes it really is the thought that counts. I haven’t been able to take advantage of  all of the freebies I have received (they typically have to be used Tuesday or very early Wednesday), but I like knowing that I can, for example, rent a movie for free on a Tuesday night. What’s more, the variety of freebies caters to all types of people: ice cream lovers, concert and movie goers, baseball fans, magazine readers, etc. T-Mobile’s gestures may not be grandiose, but the rewards it gives out brings a sense of excitement to its customers on Tuesdays. In fact, other carriers have noticed the excitement, and AT&T is responding with its “thanks” rewards program.

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