I’m pretty sure everyone has heard or is aware of the term ‘omnichannel’. It’s not new, but has been gaining popularity over the last few years and especially during the current pandemic.

As companies start to implement work from home strategies and change their way of business, there are teething problems all around. A lot of them centre around the sales and customer service side.

Omnichannel communications might be the best solution for these problems. The ability for brands to utilise multiple communication channels to connect with, engage and even sell to their customers is a powerful way forward in the digital age.

We feature and interview entrepreneurs from all walks of life. Find out what VJ Africa had to share about agritech in The Philippines.

We had the chance to speak to Robert Vis the Founder and CEO of MessageBird about the industry and how it is impacting Southeast Asia. This interview was right after the company raised a US$200M Series C funding, bringing their valuation to US$3B.

Find out what Robert had to share below.

Congrats on the recent funding. How do you plan to use it?

Asia is one of our biggest markets, and I’m proud that we have been able to build such a strong presence there and strong connectivity which allows us to help local businesses communicate with their customers across the region but also internationally outside of Asia as well. We actually just announced our new Work Anywhere policy so we’ll be looking to hire the best talent, with the most experience scaling global software businesses, in the region wherever they may be.

Given the exponential growth of digital businesses in Southeast Asia, where do you see omnichannel communications evolving in the region?

person using smartphone

My vision has always been to live in a world where we can message with business, at a time and on a platform that suits us best, and never get stuck waiting on hold again. A true omnichannel experience is about shifting customer engagement away from the inefficient channels of email and voice to more dynamic messaging channels. That requires products for both businesses and consumers to complete the circle of having unified context around every interaction. This is now possible for any business to start doing in 60 seconds thanks to our suite of omnichannel products InboxFlow Builder and Omnichannel Chat Widget.

What are Messagebird’s plan for Southeast Asia? 

Asia is one of our largest markets because there is already such a strong messaging-first culture. I think we have a unique role to play in helping businesses there make the transition to seamless omnichannel communications with their customers, who are already using these messaging platforms at scale to talk to their friends. We’ve already seen huge adoption in the technology space, with customers like Tokopedia, DBS, Alibaba, Tencent, Shopee and ByteDance, but we see huge growth opportunities in the region – from airlines to hotels, ecommerce to luxury fashion brands and physical retailers. Anywhere a customer is stuck on hold, MessageBird can help.

How do consumers behave differently in the region compared to the rest of the world? Are there preferred communication channels or behaviours that stand out?  

I think Asia is unique in that it is home to the world’s largest messaging-channel – WeChat – which is actually more of an ‘everything-first’ platform. I think the range of services WeChat offers gives us a glimpse of how much more efficient a messaging-first future will be if the rest of the world can catch up.

We’re also one of the few platforms that offer business to customer communications on both WeChat and Line, as well as international messaging channels like WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger and more, so I’m super excited about our future growth plans in Asia.

Are there specific Southeast Asian markets that you are targeting or see great potential for your industry?

We’ve seen strong uptake in Singapore, Indonesia and China – so we’re looking to further expand our presence in those countries – but equally, we see huge opportunities in Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand as they continue to build more and more digital businesses.   

Where do you see Messagebird in the next 5 years?

We want to be the company that killed getting stuck on hold forever by helping every business transition to becoming a messaging-first business with their customers.