The Customer Effect

Inside Ally Bank’s launch of Banksgiving

  • Ally Bank call center reps surprised customers this week.
  • The firm launched Banksgiving as a way to give back to clients.
Inside Ally Bank’s launch of Banksgiving

With the official start of the holiday season, financial institutions are stepping up their marketing. Ally Bank recently surprised its 5.5 million customers during Banksgiving, a new holiday introduced by the digital bank to pay back its customers with gratitude and appreciation for their loyalty.

Banksgiving relied on the Detroit-based bank’s most human element, the call center, to give back to its customers and their communities by granting their wishes both big and small.

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The following excerpts were edited for clarity.

The idea for Banksgiving

Andrea Brimmer, Ally Bank CMO
Andrea Brimmer, Ally Bank CMO

The idea started when Ally’s new ad agency, Anomaly, found a customer’s social media post. In it, he shared an experience he had with an Ally customer service rep. Ally CSRs are trained to end their calls with ‘Is there anything else I can help you with today?’ To which the customer replied, “Yeah, how about a million dollars?”

The customer service rep laughed and countered, “I wish I could give you a million dollars! I wish I could do that for all our customers.”

The idea for Banksgiving was born.

“We said, ‘what if we give our call center reps a budget and allowed them to grant our customers’ wishes?'” said Andrea Brimmer, Ally’s chief marketing officer. “It was a really neat way of giving back to our customers.”

Customers asked for different things: for help raking leaves, to visit their family in Las Vegas and the Netherlands, and a heartwarming story of a woman requesting assistance to help young mothers with Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets.

Creating the campaign

Ally created a lot of content around Banksgiving. For a full day, the team filmed customer service reps asking customers if they could do anything else for them. When they answered, Ally reps granted their wishes. This was all produced in a video shared on social media and YouTube.

“To get that authenticity is really what draws you in and finishes it in a big, emotional way,” remarked Brimmer.

The 19th largest U.S. bank by assets prides itself on being human-centric, even though it maintains no branches. Ally runs 24/7 call centers, which is somewhat unusual in the industry. Its call center model doesn’t reward reps for how quickly they get people off the phone. They’re rewarded for customer resolutions and first-touch resolutions — even if they have to stay on the phone with someone for two hours.

“We have a different culture in our call centers,” said Brimmer. “They’re all about putting our customers in the center and problem solving.”

Getting the word out

Employees were given a chance to share their experiences and they took to social media to tell their stories.

“What I love about this is that it was so authentic,” said Ally’s Brimmer. “We didn’t script any of this — we just gave our reps a single mandate: to ask if there was anything else we could do for our customers.”

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