I’m happy to say that we’ve recently gotten more positive feedback from our customers, and a particularly..

I’m happy to say that we’ve recently gotten more positive feedback from our customers, and a particularly encouraging comment came from King You, one of our most prominent email clients. He says, “I find that it is a totally different and great experience working with you. It is a “Gen-Y” working model that we’re trying to adopt.” His use of the term “Gen-Y” really caught our attention, and I figured we should share our thoughts on the phenomenon. According to Wikipedia, Generation Y, also known as “Gen-Y,” or the Net Generation, describes a technically-literate and technologically-savvy demographic.

Born somewhere from the late 1970s to late 1990s, the people that make up Gen-Y are sensation driven, on-the-go in nature and innovative. Being part of the Information Age, they also have a knack of carrying tech trends or fads to their peers. I think there must be some truth in this, because otherwise, would Facebooking, Blackberries and iPhones be such big hits?

From Right: David, Adrian and Pin, in a meeting with Friends!
From Right: David, Adrian and Pin, in a meeting with Friends!

So how do we, at 1.my, see ourselves as being part of Malaysia’s Gen-Y? One of our writers, Adline A. Ghani speaks to 1.my’s founder, Pin, to get some answers:

1. Why do you sign off your emails using your nickname “Pin” rather than a more official system -generated template or no-name reply?

We want our customers to feel like they’re dealing with a person, a real human being. We’re customers too, and we hate writing to a company, say Air Asia, and getting a generic response from “Customer Support”. It’s impersonal. We like interacting directly with our customers. Using one’s real name or nickname is often the first step in breaking the ice. So far, people have responded well to this approach, so we’ve never looked back.

2. Your team only works 4 days a week; how do you cater to customer support during your off days?

We may not have customer support department, but what we have is an entire team that’s dedicated to dealing with customer support. Our response time is shown in real time, which motivates everyone to respond quickly to every ticket submitted by a customer. Then, our team is allowed access to our support system using their mobile phone or the web, and this allows us to deal with it anytime, everywhere. We also have an SMS alert system that informs us when a ticket has not been processed for more than 15 minutes. We could be singing karaoke, throwing a BBQ or rock climbing, but you can be sure we’ll answer to your needs right away.

3. You don’t have an office phone number, how do your customers contact you?

Oatmeal will tell you why he hates to call a support
Oatmeal will tell you why he hates to call a support

We used to think that every office must have a phone, but why? In my experience, trying to get help from customer support over the phone can be frustrating. In fact, some people would rather be punched in the testicles than calling for support. Thankfully, I’ve never had to resort to that, but it’s truly maddening when you have to spell your name out when it’s just “Pin,” like mine. “P for Penang, I for Ireland and N for Norway,” is that really necessary? I hate that, so without a phone number, our customers can simply fill up a support form on our website and things go very well indeed.

4. You spent months cycling around Europe, what happened to work?

Cycling in the Spring
Cycling in the Spring

I had my Dell Mini notebook with me, but I had some problems getting free Internet access there (we Malaysians are lucky to have free WIFI in most public places). I considered myself lucky whenever I got free WIFI access provided by The Cloud in McDonalds. The rest of the time, I worked from – the home of my CouchSurf host, guesthouse, homestay, etc. Skype is really useful, I must say.. It allows me to call customers directly at much lower costs. But, no matter how smart the technology is, the one and only challenge was the different time zones. I usually wake up to tonnes of unread emails in my inbox.

5. Your invoices don’t carry signatures and official stamps, what happens if a customer insists?

Many service providers generate invoices and assume that everyone will continue to use their services. We don’t, our customers decide what services they’d like to subscribe to and renew, and therefore they are free to generate their own invoices. Of course we have come across a few companies that have insisted on an official stamp on the invoice, to make our official invoice even more “official”. In those cases, we usually send them our stamps and they do the stamping themselves :)

6. Why is your website a blog?

Some of our friends laugh at us because we have a super plain website that doesn’t look like much of a website, particularly one that runs an email hosting business. Yet, we are proud of being able to update our website more frequently than everyone else, especially since we don’t have to spend time fiddling around with things like design.

7. You don’t have an office, so where do you guys work?

Bank + Old Town + Office
Bank + Old Town + Office

Believe it or not, we operate from Old Town Coffee and Starbucks. But frankly speaking, after a year-long trial of working from a SOHO, we’ve decided to open our own office very soon. It’ll be an incubator where we’ll host at least 6 more startup companies.

8. How does working with Gen-Yers like yourselves benefit customers?

Well, we asked ourselves questions like, “Why do we need to work 5 days a week?” and “Why do we need a stamp on the invoice?” Frankly, we’re not keen on office wear and filling up leave forms that have to be approved by bosses. Our working culture may be unconventional, but we’re consummate professionals and we get you results. We hope this inspires our customers, and together, we can affect change.

9. What sort of reading materials and movies do you guys like?

The team’s preferred reading is diverse and includes books like Small is the New Big, Googled, Harry Potter and Twilight, to graphic novels and tech magazines. We like movies like Avatar, Wall E, Lord of the Rings and lots more. Basically, all the geeky stuff out on the market.

10. What is the biggest hurdle for a company that wants o switch from being conventional to the Gen-Y mode?

The Gen-Y mode sounds free and easy, but I’d say the biggest challenge is – yourself. It took us years to switch modes to what we’re doing now. Imagine this, you can cut your phone line at anytime, but then you, your customers and team members will need to adapt to the change. You don’t do something like this overnight.

So there it is; our two cents worth on being a Gen-Yer. I must say that working with King You and his team has been great for us too, they’re very knowledgeable, and we truly appreciate all the support they’ve given us throughout 2009. Thank you for the inspiring us to talk about being part of Gen-Y King You! Here’s to us Echo boomers!