America is awash in loyalty and reward programs, but most of them don't really make an impact. This may be hard to believe, or maybe not, but the average American belongs to 14 loyalty programs—and they don't even really bother with half of them. And there is an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with the loyalty programs they do bother with: 46% of consumers report they are frustrated by the long wait for rewards, 35% are frustrated by confusing redemption processes, and 27% are frustrated by the need to track points. That doesn't sound rewarding to me. Frankly, most consumers recognize loyalty programs for what they really are—a system of incentives designed to manipulate them into spending more money. AKA: the polar opposite of the Un-carrier's take—T-Mobile Tuesdays!
In 2016, we found ourselves ten Un-carrier moves down and looking for our next big thing. We wanted to express our appreciation for all the customer support and rapid growth we'd seen since introducing the Un-carrier three years prior. Looking at other major brands at the time, we saw that a traditional, points-based program might be a decent way to generate additional sales, but at the cost of being a lousy way to thank customers. We chose a different approach—and flipped the script on the tired loyalty program. We asked: What if, instead of making customers prove their loyalty to us, we proved our loyalty to them?
The answer was T-Mobile Tuesdays—the Un-carrier's fresh take on customer appreciation. It's NOT a loyalty scheme or a typical rewards program. Customers aren't forced to spend more, track points, refer friends, or prove their loyalty by being a customer for a minimum period of time. The simple goal of T-Mobile Tuesdays is to say “thank you” to customers by providing simple, easy access to free stuff and great deals—all without forcing customers to spend more with T-Mobile. Full stop.
EVERY Tuesday, any eligible T-Mobile customer—including Metro by T-Mobile and Sprint brand customers—can open the T-Mobile Tuesdays app and redeem offers—which we aptly call 'thankings'—for free or discounted goods and services from a wide range of top brands like Dunkin', Wendy’s, Major League Baseball, Pandora, Live Nation, and many more. There are usually upwards of six thankings each Tuesday, with new partners each week and regular opportunities to visit T-Mobile stores to score Un-carrier swag like baseballs caps, socks, gloves, umbrellas, and facemasks (which our customers love!). And there are additional special sweepstakes with big prizes that have ranged from $5,000 in cash to a new Tesla.
We thought customers would like it, but we had no idea how much the program would really take off. In these last five years since we launched T-Mobile Tuesdays, customers have enjoyed well over $1 BILLION worth of freebies and exclusive discounts. That includes 1.8 billion gallons of discounted gas, 150 million hours of free movies, 55 million free cups of coffee, and 28 million free burgers. Actually, according to a 2018 Strategy Analytics study, each T-Mobile Tuesday customer can receive almost $1,000 in extra value every year—just for being a part of the T-Mobile family.
In contrast, most companies still run traditional loyalty programs that ask much of their customers and give little back in return. AT&T’s tiered program unlocks different features depending on how many services customers subscribe to. They even reserve the best customer service for their “top” customers. How carrier is that? At T-Mobile, ALL customers are our top customers, and we believe great service is a prerequisite for us to earn your loyalty, not a reward for spending more money.
Verizon’s loyalty program started out as a credit that their customers earned for every $300 they spent on their account. Currently, Verizon's program focuses on offering customers a monthly reward … but that's only one per month, only claimable by the account owner, and only available AFTER they pay their bill, which makes it seem much less like a “thank you” than an inducement to pay up. No, thanks.
The carriers could learn something from us. Turns out, thanking customers just for being customers is a remarkably effective way to deepen loyalty and engagement. Last year, our net promoter score for customers who use T-Mobile Tuesdays was 14 points higher than the industry average. And after we extended eligibility to former Sprint customers, our net promoter score jumped another 7 points to a new record for T-Mobile!
T-Mobile Tuesdays also shows that companies can improve their bottom line without resorting to typical loyalty programs that make customers jump through hoops and track points with so many strings attached. We’ve seen that customers who take advantage of T-Mobile Tuesdays spend more with T-Mobile and stay with us longer than those who don’t. Not because they're forced to … but because they want to.
Most importantly, for a company obsessed with customer satisfaction, T-Mobile Tuesdays helps us ensure our customers feel valued. Research on customer experience and loyalty shows high customer satisfaction rates that keep on improving.
Today, T-Mobile Tuesdays is more popular than ever. Since launch, over 30 MILLION customers have downloaded the app. Last year, 21% more customers used T-Mobile Tuesdays than the in the year before, making 2020 our biggest year ever. Despite having to make significant adjustments in response to the pandemic when thankings couldn’t be redeemed in person, in 2020, T-Mobile Tuesdays set new records for customer participation, new users, and number of thankings saved. Just last week during our five-year 'Thankiversary' celebrations, T-Mobile Tuesdays hit a new record—5 million participants in one single day. That’s more than any cable network TV show!
Zoom out, and it becomes clear that our industry-best growth is due in part to our Un-carrier take on customer loyalty. We're doing it the right way—showing customers our loyalty, not forcing them to prove loyalty to us—and other businesses can see similar success when they follow our lead.
 Bond Brand Loyalty. 2020. The Loyalty Report
 Wirecard. 2019. Consumer Incentives 2019: The Digital Transformation of Rewards, Rebates, and Loyalty.
T-Mobile U.S. Inc. (NASDAQ: TMUS) is America’s supercharged Un-carrier, delivering an advanced 4G LTE and transformative nationwide 5G network that will offer reliable connectivity for all. T-Mobile’s customers benefit from its unmatched combination of value and quality, unwavering obsession with offering them the best possible service experience and undisputable drive for disruption that creates competition and innovation in wireless and beyond. Based in Bellevue, Wash., T-Mobile provides services through its subsidiaries and operates its flagship brands, T-Mobile, Metro by T-Mobile and Sprint. For more information please visit: https://www.t-mobile.com.