MESSAGING APPLICATION Viber Rakuten said its business users in the Philippines soared last year, suggesting that companies began to recognize the value of one-on-one conversations with their customers during the pandemic crisis.

In the Philippines, “the amount of new brand-owned business channels launched soared by 211%” last year, Rakuten Viber said in an e-mailed statement.

Viber saw business messages sent surge by 244% last year versus 2019, with transactional messages growing by 299%.

Viber said its suite of business solutions enabled brands “to provide their customers with notifications about the products or services they availed — from the status of their lab tests or food orders to updates on the delivery time of their groceries and appointment with a dentist and more.”

“With this new trend on the rise, it’s safe to say that more brands are starting to see the importance of strengthening 1-to-1 conversations with their customers rather than just send one-way messages,” it added.

Businesses, Viber noted, also realized the value of providing customer support and receiving feedback and reviews.

Globally, Viber saw a 21% increase in the number of new businesses that started using the messaging application. The number of brands exchanging transactional messages with customers also grew by 37% last year. Viber recorded a 58% increase in the number of new business channels launched by brands.

The popularity of chatbots, which allow brands to give an automated reply to requests in real time, also increased by 48% globally, Viber noted.

“That’s because chatbots allow organizations to provide consumers with a more efficient way to respond to their needs — all without having to boost manpower,” it said.

Viber’s growing user base enticed advertisers to switch to the messaging application.

“As a result, Viber has noted a 115% increase in direct advertisers globally with top business verticals including food delivery which grew by 174%, social media by 244%, and mobile games by 122%,” it said.

In the Philippines, Viber said its direct advertisers surged by 312%. — Arjay L. Balinbin