Growing up in China in the 1980s, Tom Wei Yiqun recalls his first introduction to being an entrepreneur. “At the time, a popular radio feature I listened to everyday was about Lee Iacocca, the then CEO of Chrysler Corporation and how he revived a nearbankrupt company into a profitable automobile manufacturer,” remembers Wei. “Even though I was very young, I wanted to be like Lee, to do something significant as he did with Chrysler.” What started out as a young boy’s aspiration would soon turn into a lifelong journey to being an entrepreneur and making a difference in the lives of customers, colleagues and industry.
I think trust is very important to CBC. It is a simple process of keeping our word to the customer
It was at an US energy giant that Wei would make his first foray into the telecoms sector, transferring to the company’s newly created broadband division when it began laying fiber lines alongside its nationwide gas pipeline. “I realized that though I wanted to start something on my own, it would be very difficult to launch a service in the energy sector. It’s so capital intensive; it would be impossible to build a power plant on my own.”
So leaving this company in 2001, Wei headed back to China to become Managing Director of China Netcom’s international business unit. Following China Netcom’s merger with China Telecom North, Wei eventually rose to become Senior Vice President where he would meet his future business partner, Richard Fung, a senior executive at Sprint International. In 2008, Fung and Wei left their respective jobs to setup China Broadband Communications or CBC as a privately-held managed network service provider.
Different but better customer service
Drawing from their collective work experiences, Wei and Fung set out to resolve what they deemed as a primary pain point for foreign companies looking to setup network access for their China-based operations.
“Heading up the international business unit at an incumbent like China Netcom Group gave me a perspective on some of the key challenges confronting foreign companies in China,” Wei noted. “If these companies wanted a standard network connectivity solution, then we could deliver. But if they wanted to bundle local network solutions with international offerings, it was a huge headache. Even with our best efforts, we never felt we delivered what these companies were looking for.”In spite of their limited network resource compared with those state-owned incumbent Wei and Fung focused CBC’s efforts in three key areas::
Aggressive customer-centric culture
At the start of CBC, Wei nurtured an aggressive, customer-first policy among the staff. With limited resources, CBC worked hard to respond to customer queries in a timely manner. If there was a request to bundle different services, CBC staff were encouraged to do all they could to satisfy the request. “Even if we did not have strong network resources initially, we wanted the customer to know we took them seriously. There was no request we did not thoroughly pursue or try to fulfill. In customer service, every little thing matters,” he notes.
One-stop shop for all your network needs
Early in their journey as entrepreneurs, Wei and Fung set out to structure CBC’s services around their customer needs. Noting that incumbents in the telecom sector were often organized around product functions, CBC centered their products and services on a core set of customer requirements. “Our focus was to build our solutions around the customer and ensure a single point of contact for complete attention to their every need. As a result, we’ve designed a one-stop shop for all network services that many of our customers appreciate and recognize.” Wei underscores the company’s commitment to customer service with an industry-leading team of diverse and experienced specialists and continued investments in technology.
Earning and keeping the customer’s trust
Wei also maintains a premium on customer trust that CBC will deliver what it promises to do. “For years, MNCs have to rely on state-owned incumbent for their China services. I think as a new player, trust is very important to CBC. It is a simple process of keeping our word to the customer. We don’t say anything unless we mean it because our reputation for integrity and trust is important. That’s how we grow our business, and our customers and partners know this.”
A marathon, not a 100-metre sprint
Looking to the future, Wei believes CBC is poised to expand to the region. “Though we have PoPs (point of presence) in many regions, we are focused on being the strongest service provider in Pan Pacific region,” stressed Wei.
The key to success, as defined by Wei, is to pace yourself and grow the organization in a sustainable fashion. In establishing priorities for CBC from the start, both Fung and Wei chose continued investment in people and technology over short-term profits.
“But to be a leader in this industry, you need a long-haul vision and company values that your products and people can grow into,” explains Wei. “That means CBC needs to work smarter not just harder at delivering our promise of excellent customer service and solutions to our customers. We have to remember that to truly achieve something significant, we have to run a marathon, not a 100-meter sprint.”
Tom Wei, Chairman, China Broadband Communications
Established by private equity funds led by China Broadband Capital, CBC is China's leading Network as a Service provider with fully licensed, providing a complete portfolio of next-generation communications services, including dark fiber, wavelength, Ethernet leased lines, IP VPN, IDC and the more recent SD-WAN and Cloud Services to help businesses connect within and beyond China.