The Evolution of Instant Gratification in Customer Support


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We always grew up on the premise that the customer is always right (even if it wasn’t always the case) and that customer support exists to satisfy the customer’s need for instant gratification. Even the term ‘Instant Gratification’ has evolved through the decades. Customers are no longer waiting for their friend to write a letter in the post, or email them. They are receiving instant ‘letters’ or messages via Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter. So their behavior has shifted and they don’t expect anything less from their customer service.

Mark McKenna Little, Founder & Creator or The Trusted Advisor Toolkit™, has been a consultant to very high-end financial advisors around the world and has owned a financial advisory firm for more than 25 years, gave us a historical perspective.

“I noticed in the 1980s that affluent clients were expecting faster responses on their service requests and return phone calls. Twenty years ago we had a service standard to return phone calls within “one business day.” Ten years ago we felt the need to change our standard to “We’ll return your call within 2 hours” because it was quite evident that our clients’ expectations were increasing dramatically. Last year we surveyed our affluent clients and it has become clear that our U.S. clients now expect to reach the experts in our firm directly, with no need for a return call (with zero “phone tag”). McKenna, who consults and advises financial advisory business owners all over the world, observes that this “I want it now” way of thinking is uniquely American in nature.

However all countries in which he operates have noted a measurable increase in the expectations of clients expecting quicker service.

Even though the cultures and “customer patience levels” are different around the world McKenna advises that no client is ever upset if they get more prompt service, so internal efforts to continually improve customer service times are crucial.

Decades later we have entered into the (must have) world of social media where instant gratification has elevated to a whole new level.

Striving to exceed customer expectations is one of the top priorities at, a leader in the virtual e-tailer in the office and business supplies vertical. The growth of social media has allowed Shoplet to further enhance the service that it provides to its customers. Through utilization of social media, Shoplet forms a more personal relationship with its customer base, truly get to know them, and serve their needs better.

“Since social media is a more casual and convenient 24/7 platform for communication between our company and customers, it allows some of our customers an alternative to traditional e-mail and the phone to submit questions, comments, or concerns,” says’s CEO Tony Ellison

“We found that our customers have been very receptive to our social media outlets to let us know about almost anything from positive comments about their experiences with Shoplet, their favorite holiday recipes, to products they have received that they enjoyed,” ads Ellison

As soon as these questions and comments get posted, they will quickly and efficiently address all issues that have been communicated through our social media outlets.

We can see how Shoplet took instant gratification to the extreme. One must wonder if this level of customer support is sustainable from a business point of view.

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Stefanie Amini
Stefanie Amini is the Marketing Director and Specialist in Customer Success at WalkMe, the world's first interactive online guidance system. She is chief writer and editor of I Want It Now (, a blog for Customer Service Experts. Follow her @StefWalkMe.


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