Wawa Succeeds With Experience-Based Differentiation

I’m always on the lookout for leaders who seem to understand and apply the principles of Experience-Based Differentiation (EBD). So in this post I want to highlight some of the comments by Howard Stoeckel, CEO of Wawa.

Wawa is a convenience-store chain saw its merchandise sales grow last year.  How does this private company with 8,000 employees and more than $5 billion succeed in the recession? By focusing on Experience-Based Differentiation (EBD).

This recent quote from Stoeckel represents a great example of the second principle of EBD, Reinforce the brand with every interaction, not just communications:

If there’s anything that we’re doing through these challenging times, it’s digging deeper into the soul of the brand. We’ve got to do what we’re known for that much better.

In another quote from Stoeckel, we see an excellent example of the third principle of EBD, Treat customer experience as a competence, not a function:

When we ask customers what do they like about Wawa, they say, ‘We like your people.’ And when we ask them, ‘What is it that you like about our people?’ it’s that our people like each other – and customers get caught up in that experience.

The bottom line: EBD is even more important in this economic environment

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I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey.

Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum.

My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers.

I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

2 thoughts on “Wawa Succeeds With Experience-Based Differentiation”

  1. I can tell you as a consumer from the area where Wawa operates, they are truly an icon for us. People who move out of the area, talk about it like a shrine of some sort. My daughter live in KY and in a recent trip back to PA, this is the first place she went.
    They really know how to make “running to Wawa” much more than going to your local convenience store. Their is actually a Facebook page, “Wawa, no one truly understands.” because if you are not from the area, you do not understand.

    1. Hi Beth: Thanks for sharing your (and your daughter’s) experience with Wawa. I’ve never been to a Wawa, but it sounds like I need to find a way to get to one and experience the Wawa experience.

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