How to deal with a rapidly growing customer base


Sina Yamani, CEO of mobile ordering platform Yoello, has seen his customer base increase during Covid.

Sina Yamani, CEO of Yoello, a mobile ordering platform for the hospitality and retail industries, has seen his customer base increase during Covid, due to social distancing measures, businesses moving to digital solutions and a reduction in cash transactions

Here Sina discusses how he and his team have dealt with the unexpected surge in new customers, the changes to their acquisition strategy and the challenges of expanding quickly.

Were you prepared for the spike in demand?

We’ve been building our products for a long time. We've got our own payments license, we’re regulated and authorised by the FCA — the only company in the sector to have the authorisation.

So, we were well organised. But everything has been completely blown out of proportion over the past few months, because the demand for our products has just gone through the roof. On staffing, we've almost quadrupled our team. To meet the demand, we’ve added new sales people and a whole support team to reach the inbound inquiries.

Every week we have thousands of new businesses contact us. They want our services and it's quite a lot of work to sort through those contacts, speak to them and find out how we can help them.

Have you changed your approach to winning customers?

Before Covid we were more city-specific in our customer acquisition. We'd have people in a certain city going door-to-door, speaking to businesses, showing them how our products work.

That completely went out the window when everything was locked down and most people in the retail and hospitality business were on furlough. Now customers are contacting us online and we have gone from only targeting specific cities to covering locations across the UK.

What have you learned?

We’ve always had plenty of advice and feedback from our customers in the hospitality industry but now, especially, we’ve really had to pay attention to what we’re hearing from businesses in the new environment. Since the UK has opened up the economy, we’re learning more about how people are interacting with each other in socially distanced shops, pubs, restaurants, etc.

We obviously had an idea of what it was going to be like, and we tried to fit our product based on the information we had, but no one knows what behaviours and norms are really going to be like until they happen. We’re always on the lookout for the little changes that can be an additional benefit.

Has your customer profile changed?

We're mainly SME-based, so our average business customer has between one to 20 venues, but we’ve got some big brands with repeatable business on board.

What are you biggest challenges in the medium term?

Continuing to grow our teams rapidly. We're hiring on average two people a week at the moment, which has been its own challenge, because we're hiring people just through video calls. It's hard to get to know people that way.

Working completely remotely during lockdown also proved to be quite a challenge. We were quite lucky though, because our company was really organised. Most of our processes were online; we use Asana for our team management, as well as G Suite and Slack. Everything is in the cloud, basically.

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