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Why call center software is in demand in Southeast Asia

Ada Leung

Head of Business Development

July 17, 2023

In Asia and Oceania, the Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) market is forecast to grow revenue to almost $1 billion (USD) by 2027.

Over the same period, the number of seats for cloud-based contact center is expected to increase by 577% in Southeast Asia and Oceania.

Players at all levels of the contact center market – telecoms, SaaS vendors and channel – are taking notice of this demand. Almost overnight, regions like Malaysia and Singapore have become a priority for global expansion.

CCaaS market demand drivers

Our market analysis reveals that demand for call center and customer experience (CX) software is tied to the rising customer service standards across Southeast Asia, especially in the e-commerce industry.

1.    Rising consumer class

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies. The region is a huge, greenfield market for Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and CCaaS.

A large part of this economic strength is the relative youth and increasing wealth of the 660 million people in the ASEAN region.

In turn, these hundreds of millions of consumers – with growing disposable incomes – are attracting and growing businesses the region.

Retail and e-commerce businesses are especially popular. Southeast Asian consumers have embraced online shopping with gusto.

2.   Growth in e-commerce

According to the recent e-Conomy report from Google, the Singapore e-commerce sector is projected to grow to $11 Billion (USD) by 2025. While in Malaysia this sector will reach $18 Billion (USD) by over the same period.

This demand is fueling a boom of e-commerce startups and creating regional shopping giants, as well as attracting global brands into the region.


3.   Call center software as a ‘service differentiator’

The growth of e-commerce has also created a need for businesses to better manage customer relationships.

In Southeast Asian markets in particular, the customer service experience is often the key differentiator for retail and e-commerce businesses.

With call center software, businesses can easily manage customer communications throughout the purchase journey.

4.   Phone service remains critical for CX

A recent commissioned study by Forrester identified the preferred customer service channels for Asian region consumers. The study mapped these preferred touchpoints against different stages of their buying process.

One of the key findings is that “phone and online live chat interactions were the top two preferred touchpoints across all support scenarios, especially in mainland China, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, and Vietnam.”

The ease and directness of a phone call makes it the preferred interaction channel for most e-commerce and retail consumers. The humble phone call remains a critical function for customer experience.

How to deliver call center capabilities in Southeast Asia

The ASEAN region should be a priority for anyone involved in selling, developing, managing, or integrating contact center technology.

However, many global contact center software providers struggle with gaps in calling coverage that limit their ability to service Malaysia and Singapore.

Why do PSTN coverage gaps exist?

The calling and SMS features within a call center platform need to be connected to a telecom (PSTN) network. To achieve coverage across multiple countries, this connectivity is needed in every region where the business operates.

Typically, this telecom connectivity is done behind-the-scenes by the platform vendor. In some cases, this will be done by a local channel partner through a ‘BYO Carrier’ program. Both Cisco and Microsoft offer this option.

However, at the time of writing, only a handful of customer experience platforms can provide local telecom connectivity in Malaysia and Singapore.

It means that these important growth regions are also a critical coverage gap.

This is both a frustration (for the enterprise buyer) and an opportunity for excellence (for technology vendors).

Coverage gaps undermine customer experience

When launching in Southeast Asia, it is important to confirm whether your call center platform can provide local numbers and domestic call termination.

There are two important reasons behind this:

Fewer unanswered calls

First, without access to local geographic numbers, any outbound calls from your contact center will show an out-of-region number.

Locals (of any country) prefer to receive calls from familiar geographic numbers and ignore calls from international prefixes. This, in turn, undermines the effectiveness of outreach and dialer campaigns.

Lower cost, higher quality

Second, for optimal cost and quality, domestic calls should be originated and terminated within the same region.

However, not all carrier network partners are made equal.

Without local carrier interconnection, call center traffic is likely to be routed out of the region – to wherever your network partner has a Point of Presence (PoP).

Chances are, your network partner in the US or Europe, doesn’t have a VoIP network in Malaysia or Singapore. So they have to route calls to their nearest PoP – and all the way back again – in order to terminate them.

This PoP might be in a neighboring region. Or it could be halfway around the world.

Either way, this circuitous routing adds cost and latency.

The best value, best quality solution is to work with a local network partner who can route and terminate domestic traffic within the country.

The importance of a local network partner

For call center platforms, and the telecom partners that deliver them, it is critical to work with a voice provider that’s local to markets you want to serve.

Working with a local partner is a strategic investment, it ‘unlocks’ hard-to-reach destinations and gives you an advantage in market coverage.

The voice provider will provide the core capabilities you need. Such as the ability to port phone numbers, show local numbers in caller ID and enable inbound and outbound calling.

They may also be able to route your international calls in and out of the country too.

This will set you apart from other vendors and allow you to better serve customers in Malaysia, Singapore, and the wider Asia-Pacific region.

Power Calling & Customer Experience in ASEAN

Symbio offers a suite of capabilities to power calling, local numbers and messaging across the Asia-Pacific region.

Contact us

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