NEW YORK (MainStreet) Plenty of businesses reward customer loyalty. Some do it by distributing punch cards for us to misplace and launder, others do it with occasional discounts at the register. Last week TD Bank Canada decided to up the ante and show its appreciation with Automated Thanking Machines. You can see the results here.
When customers at locations across Canada showed up to do their banking, they found that the standard, green ATM terminals included a human greeting and thanks for years of patronage. They then received highly personalized, sometimes very moving, gifts, such as one fan's chance to throw out the first pitch at a Toronto Blue Jays game or a free trip to Disney World for a mother and her children.
While the award for cutest gift goes to minute 3:44 in the video when a tiny dog dish opened up under the kiosk, the most emotional moment was undoubtedly when a mother received tickets to Trinidad so she could visit her sick daughter.
In all, according to a TD spokesperson quoted by Examiner.com, "over a dozen customers across Canada received a special customer thanking experience at their local branch through the Automated Thanking Machine TM, such as trips, experiences, RESP contributions, etc." The thanking machines were part of a nationwide campaign held by TD Bank. In addition to the gifts handed out in the YouTube video, the bank also distributed free $20 gifts to more than 30,000 customers both in person and by electronic deposit.
The Automated Thanking Machines video has, at time of publishing, already generated more than three million views and is, at points, certainly a tear jerker.
This form of marketing is known by specialists as having enormous "pass along" value, in other words value that extends beyond the first interaction. Handing out $20 to customers waiting in line generates some good will from them, and even more from every friend they tell about it. A campaign as highly publicized and moving as the Automated Thanking Machines magnifies that effect.
TD Bank is well-known for adding this type of small gesture to its customer experience, including free lollipops, dog biscuits and change counting services, however last week's widespread giveaway almost certainly takes the cake. At $600,000 in small gifts plus the value of their dozen plus Automated Thanking Machine prizes, here's hoping that the bank decides to hold a similar event in the United States soon.
--Written for MainStreet by Eric Reed, a freelance journalist who writes frequently on the subjects of career and travel. You can read more of his work at his website www.wanderinglawyer.com.