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My Wawa Wow Moment

Wawa Wow Moment
Posted on Mar 30, 2017 in Technology Comments

As a casino marketing professional responsible for developing creative ideas, I am always looking for innovative ways to help companies improve their operations and customer service. I study the methods and strategies of other marketers, and analyze the tactics of successful companies. Often, it is reviewing items I use during my own day-to-day routine and evaluating those experiences.

Recently, I was presented an exciting new idea for improving customer service – one that has since changed my behavior when it comes to a pretty mundane task. It wasn’t at a conference or panel on marketing, no, it was, in fact, while ordering lunch one afternoon at my local food market and convenience store, Wawa. You never know when and where inspiration will strike, right?

Let me explain.

I am no stranger to the Wawa mobile app. Soon after it launched, I downloaded it, thinking it would provide typical loyalty rewards. I was impressed with its clean design and easy-to-use interface – and one unique feature that benefited my family in particular: it allowed you to add reloadable gift cards. I have a family of four (my wife, my two teenagers and myself), so the app allowed me to load gift cards for each of us remotely, then refill each one when they were in need of funds.

This was a best-of-both-worlds situation. I could be at home thinking, “Dang! I forgot to pick up milk.” But, with the app, I could just call one of the kids who was still out and ask them to pick up a gallon, without having to hear the excuse “I can’t, I’m out of money!” Also, Wawa sends me notifications about free merchandise I earned by using the app – small items like coffee or a sandwich would appear for me in the app with a small window of purchase time, and this encouraged me to visit more often to take advantage of the deals.

As useful as I found it, I still fell out of a regular routine of using the app, and I sort of forgot about it, until I received an email in my inbox about its new feature: Mobile Ordering. Now, a new app feature in an email might not pique every person’s interest. But, thanks to my day job as a marketer (and the fact that I was planning to go to lunch at Wawa that day), I was intrigued.

I decided I’d try ordering my sandwich via the feature on the app, so I launched it, ordered my sandwich and got a notification that I should show my virtual order slip to the cashier when I arrived. I got in my car and drove over to Wawa, and once I entered the parking lot, I realized that the app had another awesome feature: Wawa’s parking lot was geo-fenced, so that as soon as I was near the store, my virtual order slip appeared on my phone and the deli counter staff inside was alerted. This meant that they started making the sandwich when I arrived to pick it up – resulting in no waste on their part, and fresh food for me.

Two quick scans of my phone later (virtual order slip and gift card funds), and I was called to the counter by name (a nice personalized touch!) to pick up my food. Additionally, I learned that I earned more free rewards for using the app to order. It’s safe to say that I’ve decided to use the Wawa app to order my lunch online again and again.

So, that’s how the app of a convenience store changed my shopping behavior, as well as the way that I thought about approaching operations customer service challenges at casinos.

The benefits of Wawa’s app and the lessons I learned from it are two-fold.

First, the app eventually improved upon itself. Sure, the first version of the app was great. It gave me access to online gift cards that made things easier for my family. But the company didn’t stop there. Instead, they focused on how they could continue to make things better for customers, and ultimately rolled out an improved feature. Just like Wawa, you don’t have to wait around to create or release an app – or try out a new process – because it’s not “perfect” or “finished.” There will always be new things to introduce to your creations, and there will always be room for improvement. Once they’re built, they demand attention and care – and that’s where the new, exciting innovations come in. It’s not a “build it and they will come” situation. But then again, is anything that’s worthwhile?

Next, the Wawa app solved a problem I didn’t know I was having. Ordering lunch seems simple enough, doesn’t it? But Wawa approached it differently, and ultimately helped me save time and enjoy my lunch experience more. If you’re experiencing a challenge, or progress is slowing at your casino, it may be time to look for advice. As problem-solving casino marketers, we need to look to successful models – like the Wawa app – and make sure we’re creating similar great experiences for our gamblers, even if the problem does not yet seem dire.

So, the next time you’re searching for how to better serve customers, or improve your current processes, ask yourself, “What would Wawa do?” You may just find yourself stumbling on a brand new, innovative solution that will work in your own context – and make things better for both your business and your customers.

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