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Inside Hong Kong Broadband Network’s Decision To Give Away a Month of Broadband for Free

Niq Lai of Hong Kong Broadband Network headshot

The concept feels mind boggling, but it makes more sense than you think.

Imagine giving away a month’s supply of product or services to a million customers nationwide all at once. While the concept feels mind boggling — not to mention a huge hit to profitability — that’s exactly how Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) responded to the onset of COVID-19 in Hong Kong. 

In this episode, NiQ Lai, Co-Owner & Group Chief Executive Officer at HKBN sits down for a face-to-face conversation with Sujith Abraham, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region for Salesforce, to discuss the company’s decision. They also talk about how HKBN uses barter to bring together its extensive network of partners: 50% of all businesses in the country and a third of all households. See the full video below.

After the conversation you’ll see a software demonstration of Customer 360 — an integrated platform of Marketing Cloud, MuleSoft, and Einstein artificial intelligence — from Trina Ng, Director of Asia Pacific Marketing. Immediately following you’ll hear about new writing projects from singer Leona Lewis who also performs My Hands.

Here are a few quotes from NiQ Lai, Co-Owner & Group Chief Executive Officer at Hong Kong Broadband Network:

Why give away a month of broadband?

In January 2020, we offered one month free service to our entire customer base, and there’s been a phenomenal response. At the end of the day, one month of free broadband isn’t going to change the family income that much, but we hope to inspire other companies to do likewise. If we can get the utility company, the landlord, and the supermarket chain to contribute toward our community as well, I think we’ll make a massive impact.

How has bartering worked for HKBN?

Our whole company is based on “Change or Die”, and we want to live. The need for Change really hyper-accelerated with COVID, an example of which is our “barter and bundle” initiative. Instead of just charging our [enterprise] customers cash, we’re happy to accept coupons for services they provide to offset their cash payment to us. We take these coupons and bundle them with our retail services as part of our ongoing customer acquisition and retention program and share them with our one-in-three households in Hong Kong.

What’s next for HKBN?

We want to scale. We’re still far from being the market leader, and we have aspirations to become that leader. Many of our peers just want to survive below the radar of the incumbent; we want to thrive and overtake them. That’s why we have to be at the forefront of change. And in our view, the bigger the crisis, the bigger the opportunity. We came out much stronger from SARS in 2003 and the global financial crisis of 2008. We fully intend to do that with COVID as well.


Watch the Customer 360 demo

At the 26 minute mark, see how HKBN is using Customer 360’s integrated software tools like Commerce Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Service Cloud, and Einstein artificial intelligence to stay connected to every customer.

Hear the music

Drop in at minute 32 to get to know how singer Leona Lewis approaches philanthropy and hear her sing just for us.

Watch the whole conversation

NiQ Lai of Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) Speaks with Salesforce’s Sujith Abraham

This was the latest edition of Leading Through Change, our live video conversation series exploring how leaders use software to drive impactful change in industry. For more interviews:

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Karen Solomon Senior Blog Editor

Karen Solomon is the senior editor for the Salesforce Blog, where she brings a wealth of experience as a writer, content strategist, and storyteller. In addition to writing four cookbooks and a travel book, she’s worked for Bank of America, Autodesk, Williams-Sonoma, Donnelly Marketing, and Under Armour. She’s also authored numerous feature stories for national press.

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