Why firms must evolve along with customer demand for instant fixes

Friday January 21 2022

With technology giving us instant meals, smart gadgets managing all aspects of human life, space travel a new reality and fad, what chance does 20th century thinking hold for firms? It is clearly time for a paradigm shift in thinking about tomorrow’s clientele. PHOTO | FILE


The world is continually undergoing change and equally, the expectations and thinking of customers have changed. Today it is not really about how good the product is but more of how the product resonates with the mindset of today’s customer.

In the 1970s, going to the bank needed time off work because it was a half a day project. People raised in that era are more likely to excuse slow service and turnaround time in a bank today than one that has grown up only knowing instant services.

We mailed letters that took a week to get to their destination and a fortnight if beyond the country’s borders. The first time my brother set up an email address for me, I was shocked to learn that email gets to the recipient(s) immediately.

This is very important information when it comes to understanding your customer today. I represent the customer of yesterday whose mind was trained to be patient and forgiving.

This, however, is not the case for the customer who has no concept of what I have described so far. My children grew up with microwaves, fridge or TV set in the house as a normal array of gadgets in the home. So their default is to expect things to happen instantly.

Talking of TV sets, remember the era when after switching on your TV you literally had to wait for a few minutes before the images appeared on the screen? What of the wooden rectangular box radiogram with a single AM radio station, which came on five minutes from the time it was switched on?


I recognise that people who understand what I have written here today are in the minority. The majority have been brought up in the world of instant gratification. This means that businesses that served my generation are at risk today if they have not changed their operations.

Changed environment

The customer that got you to where you are today is not the same one to take you to the future. The customer raised in an environment that demanded patience and understanding, and where suggestion boxes were placed in institutions but never used, or where people had limited knowledge about the workings of the company is no longer your target client.

Today’s customer is impatient and unforgiving because their mindset has been schooled for instant results and will expose everything they do not like about you to the world. Instantly too!

They get upset when they post things on social media and people do not like or follow the thread.

If you, as an organisation, have been built by the customer of yesteryear and you have not realised that consumer thinking and behaviour is vastly different from the old, makes you an endangered species. This is why you need to be careful of what you benchmark. Many, have without realising, benchmarked on old, dying models and ignorantly celebrated these as new.

We see this trend even with technology spreading into much of Africa. We celebrate things that other parts of the world have used and dumped. Marshall Goldsmith, author and coach said it perfectly in his book aptly titled, What Got You Here Won’t Get You there.

Wale Akinyemi is the convenor The Street University ( and chief transformation officer, PowerTalks; [email protected]