Have you ever visited a food stall that only accepts cash and found yourself without any on hand? You're left with two choices: walk to the nearest ATM to withdraw money, which could be up to 200 meters away, or choose another food option. Last week, I found myself in this exact situation.
I happened to be close by a noodle stall I used to frequent but stopped going to because I disliked carrying cash. However, on that day, I had some petty cash stashed in my backpack, leftover from Chinese New Year. While ordering a small bowl of spicy noodles, I asked the staff why they preferred cash over digital payments and if they still had many young customers.
I shared that I used to love visiting the stall with my parents and that there are many old gems in Singapore's food scene that evoke nostalgia. Unfortunately, because I don't like carrying cash and find it inconvenient to withdraw money from ATMs, I usually opt for nearby alternatives instead.
To my surprise, the staff took my question offensively, complaining about how they don't need more customers with digital payments. As I walked away, I overheard murmurs like "They think we're hungry for their business," and I couldn't help but recall a lesson from Ray Dalio's book, Changing Order.
It hinted at the dangers of complacency and how it can lead to a downfall in the near term. It's important to adapt or fail. While good food is essential, the customer journey is equally important. Consumers are becoming more demanding, less tolerant, and more impatient. Should consumers be expected to make concessions in such cases?
While some may argue that we should protect our old Hawker traditions, I personally believe that there are ways we can wait until the environment and survival force change upon us. When options are no longer available, we are forced to adapt. Therefore, we should strive to be proactive and adapt to change before it's too late.
In conclusion, my experience at the food stall taught me that complacency in any organization can be dangerous, and we should always strive to adapt to changing times. It's important to set traditions and personal agenda aside, keep the customer journey and bigger picture in mind.