Yoodo COVID-19 Interview

Jennifer Kyriakakis

We all agree that there is no rule book for how to run an operator during a global pandemic and shutdown. From acquiring customers, to tailoring offers for a new world, to just keeping services flowing, every telco around the world is being forced to go all-in with digital.

That reality is why we recorded what is the first of many customer videos talking about operations during COVID-19. As early adopters of an all-digital approach, there is no one better positioned than Yoodo to provide context about how to navigate a no-retail environment, as well as to share ideas and best practices for how to thrive with digital.

Prior to COVID-19, digital CX and the technology that makes real-time engagement possible were viewed as investments that were important but not essential — something that needed to be done, but could be postponed until tomorrow. Now, when retail is shut down and customers must engage from their homes, it’s made it clear just how business-critical digital technology and transformation is to survival in extraordinary times.

Wherever you are on your journey, we hope you are thriving in this new world. And we’d love to hear from you.

Yoodo COVID-19 Interview

Jennifer: Hi, I’m Jennifer Kyriakakis, Founder and VP of Marketing for MATRIXX Software. And since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the things that we’ve been asked about a lot by telecom operators all around the world is how exactly are they dealing with the pandemic and what kinds of things are they doing to help better serve their customers. So we decided to ask them.

Jennifer: Hi, I’m Jennifer Kyriakakis, I’m co-founder of MATRIXX Software and I’m really excited to be talking to our guest today. His name’s Tuck Mun Chow and he’s the head of Yoodo and Yoodo is Malaysia’s only truly customizable and 100% digital mobile service provider. So we’re talking to him today about his business and a little bit about the impacts of COVID-19. So welcome Tuck Mun. I was hoping you could, tell us a little bit about Yoodo and its history and how it got started.

Tuck Mun: Sure. Yoodo started in January, 2018, actually Yoodo is part of Celcom and Celcom decided to launch a digital brand, a digital telco. What it means here is that when you download an app, the only thing I suppose you would call it non-digital, is that we send the SIM cards to you, right? But then after everything’s done on the app from capturing your face, doing a face scan to scanning your ID. So basically to the know your customer portion. To even choosing your plans, we have basically, as far as we know at moment, we have more than 350,000 plans that you can choose from, combinations more or less, 350,000 combinations you can choose from. So that’s actually basically we are sort of serving the customer, the modern customer, right? Serving the segment of one.

Jennifer: And so, you know, being that it’s all digital, how does that impact the shape of the organization? Is it different from an organizational standpoint than a typical mobile operator?

Tuck Mun: There’s still parts of it that are the same. The difference is mainly in serving the customer. So in this part we do not have retail outlets, so we don’t have the dealerships. We don’t have people on the ground serving the customer through the retail outlets.

Jennifer: So that’s a really interesting strategy and it’s especially interesting given what’s going on right now. How has that, how has COVID in general hit Malaysia? I mean, is, are you guys doing shelter in place right now? Is it, are you, you know, people fairly bound to their houses right now or their homes?

Tuck Mun: Yes. We are all bound to our homes as I suppose as we are doing this interview now I’m at home talking to you from my house. So this is definitely impacted the market, but this has also resulted in people wanting to use more communication services. So telco services are now, I suppose, a bit stretched. The amount of data consumption has increased quite a bit. And, the requirements and the demands on the network has really increased. At the same time as all telcos are also a bit impacted because as we are all under, I suppose we call it, lockdown. Basically, people can’t go out and also shops are not open. Retail outlets aren’t open. Right? So people can’t really utilize their full range of telco services.

Jennifer: And have you guys been, I mean it sounds like you already had a lot of good packages out there for, you know, for entertainment and e-sports and things like that. Have you guys done anything specifically in response to COVID-19? Any special packages or any specific offers?

Tuck Mun: Customers at the moment, they really want a lot of data. So as part of our assistance to our community, we have actually given out free data to our customers. So that should help alleviate, I suppose, the data consumption, the amount of data consumption that they will need to buy. Right? That’s one thing that we did. The second thing that we did is that, in terms of delivering our SIM cards, we have two types of delivery, right? We have the normal delivery services and we also have express delivery. Express delivery is, we are able to deliver to specific locations within two hours, the SIM card within two hours. So, but that one, that one would cost the customer. So, we’ve also reduced the price for that because we realized that the customer is looking for a line, uh, when they’re looking for a line. Yoodo being a fully digital company, digital telco is still able to serve the customer and they are coming to us. So naturally if they want a line quickly now we’re giving them the offer to get it quickly at a lower cost.

Jennifer: And how have your customers responded to that? Have you gotten good response and good uptake?

Tuck Mun: Oh yes. It has been a good response both in terms of our activations. Right? And also in terms of social media, right. The social media response has been good. I believe we have been pretty positive. People have been very positive thanking us for, for, for supporting, uh, their data requirements and also I suppose looking out for them.

Jennifer: So is there anything that has surprised you about usage patterns or buying patterns or just consumer behavior in general? Anything that’s been a big surprise over the last month since the shelter in place went in order?

Tuck Mun: I suppose I wouldn’t call it a surprise, but definitely there has been changes in usage behavior. So now, we don’t really have peak hours anymore. Peak hours always used to be in the evening. Nowadays, right, even in the afternoons the data consumption is pretty high. I suppose those who are working are probably on a, you know, video conference calls so that, that requires, a lot of data. So the amount of data being used, whether it’s broadband or mobile, it’s, it’s high. Right? So that has, that has changed the data consumption pattern.

Jennifer: Interesting. Anything else you want to share about, just sort of your, you know, your journey through this pandemic and you know, your company kind of dealing with your employees, having to work from home, you know, and, and kind of dealing with that whole change of structure? Anything that you want to share around that?

Tuck Mun: Well, it’s not been easy to operate in this kind of environment. But I think all in all, the whole company has done very well. I think all the Yoodo employees have done very well in terms of how they have managed to adapt to this new situation. Still different, but we’ve gotten used to it.

Jennifer: I think it says a lot that even though everyone’s working from home, that you guys have been able to continually still roll out new products and new offers.

Tuck Mun: Yes. I think another thing that we have also changed is that I suppose in the first week it’s all about, okay, how do we keep operations going, Right? Then after the first week of first or second week, it’s about the team decided that, look, now it’s a new way of working. It’s a new way of thinking where you have to now create things for an online situation. Yes, we are a digital brand so I suppose we were doing things for online and for digital, right? But at this point of time the mindset is that everyone’s at home, everyone can’t go out and they can’t do their usual social stuff. So what do we provide? So we have now, ran through and even our advertisements have really evolved in terms of addressing, I suppose, the need of the customer to be at home. So, it’s more about that. Actually as we talk now, next week, we are actually launching, a series called, “Stay at Home”, right? A stay at home party, right?

Jennifer: That’s cool.

Tuck Mun: Every, every night, I think every night from, from next week on what’s for the next couple of weeks, we would have an entertainment series. That means that we will have artists that would be performing online. We will have e-sports streaming. We would also have things like, we are actually going to get someone, a chef, there’s going to be cooking live on our streams, right? So if you follow Yoodo’s page our Facebook pages and so on, from next week on we will have a lot of content also for our customers

Jennifer: That’s amazing. That just shows an amazing amount of agility to be able to, to respond like that and just roll things like that out really quickly that your customers need now that they might not have been, you know, looking for just a month ago. So great, thanks for sharing all of that. Really appreciate your time.

Tuck Mun: Thank you.

Jennifer: Thanks. And be safe and stay well.

Tuck Mun: Yup. You too. Stay safe.

Jennifer: I hope you enjoyed that conversation and hopefully you learned more about how telcos are leveraging their investments in digital transformation and in agility across technology, across their people and across their processes to help get through this crisis and to help better serve their customers. I want to thank Tuck Mun Chow for joining us from Yoodo and everyone at Yoodo that made this conversation possible. If you want to learn more about how matrix can help you with digital, please visit us at matrixx.com. Thanks.

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