MESSAGING PLATFORM Viber launched two features last week to improve brand-user interaction, a “high priority” given the app’s 106% year-on-year growth in retail users in the Philippines.
Business Inbox is a dedicated folder for business messages from official brand accounts while Commercial Accounts is a channel where users can find brands and communicate with them through a mini-website experience within the app.
“It’s our ambition to have brands on Viber build awareness, generate interest, and drive conversion down to user loyalty and after-sales care. A brand can use our solutions to meet the users at every step in the customer journey,” said Cristina V. Constandache, chief revenue officer of Viber, at a media briefing on Jan. 26.
“Our vision for 2023 is to become a superapp,” she added.
Business Inbox, the default space for brand-user interactions, is pinned at the top of the chat screen and is kept separate from personal messages. It allows Viber users to store and organize notifications — bank reminders, delivery order confirmations, or promotional offers — from brand accounts in one folder.
Meanwhile, Commercial Accounts allows users to engage with a brand in just one channel, where they can find business information, services, and Viber chats under a single searchable business entity. Brands will be better able to customize the customer experience through this feature.
David Tse, Rakuten Viber’s senior director for APAC, told BusinessWorld that the new features will increase user safety and trust when engaging with a business.
“For example, the Business Inbox will automatically have business messages from verified brands, which have a blue tick, and it’s basically inaccessible to private accounts trying to impersonate a business,” he explained.
In 2022, Philippine stats for the app show a 603% growth in transactional business messages, an 83% growth in conversational business messages, and an 11% growth in promotional messages year-on-year. There has also been a 34% increase in chatbots.
With these stats, adding new features is a “no-brainer,” according to Ms. Constandache.
“We want to become a single gateway to manifold services, wherein users can do everything that they want or as many things as they want within one app,” she said.
Mr. Tse also shared at the briefing that the Viber Pay feature, available in Germany and Greece, has to “overcome quite a few licensing hurdles” before launching in the Philippines. — Brontë H. Lacsamana
The goal is to launch the payment feature within the year, said Ms. Constandache.