A Week in the Life: Joe Hainstock, Zing Developer
5th January 2023
We recently developed the middleware to integrate the popular VoIP and instant messaging application Viber with Twilio Flex, and helped a customer add the channel to their contact centre.
Here, we get the chance to chat with Zing developer Joe Hainstock about the work, and learn how others can now benefit from adding Viber to their Flex contact centres.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Joe. First things first, what is Viber?
Viber is amongst the top three messaging apps in the world. People tend to think of it as an alternative to WhatsApp as its functionality is similar, i.e it’s a free app that allows users to make encrypted calls and exchange messages. It’s very popular in Japan and Taiwan, but also has a strong presence in Europe, particularly Bulgaria, Greece, and Ukraine.
Why integrate Viber with Twilio Flex?
With up to a billion people using Viber to connect worldwide it makes sense for organisations to be contactable via the medium, right?
In terms of the organisation that we’ve just helped add Viber, Viber is huge in the countries it operates. It already had WhatsApp, and we were able to repurpose the flows.
Tell us about Viber Chatbots
Viber Chatbot are cool, and can be used to improve customer engagement drastically with 24/7 availability. Viber has a search capability, meaning viber users can find bots on their phones once the bot is made publicly available. You can search for topics, and related bots for that topic will be displayed.
With Viber Chatbots, instead of messaging a person, you message a page, is this right?
Yes, the Viber bot acts the same as messaging a Facebook page so there is no person on the other end, only the bot service. Bots can interact with thousands of people at the same time this way, and provide information to anybody who is subscribed.
Users subscribe to a bot simply by messaging in, and can unsubscribe at any time. Being subscribed means they’re okay with the bot sending them messages. This means organisations can send outbound communications to subscribers without requiring them to be inside any kind of interaction window, (think about WhatsApp’s 24 hour chat restriction). A subscription means the person accepts inbound messages from that ‘page’.
Twilio blogged about integrating via Corezoid earlier this year, what’s the difference here?
We’ve written our own middleware piece, which mitigates the need (and cost) of running a third party tool for us and our customers. Having your own code just gives you a bit more freedom really.
The middleware allows our customers to benefit from both Viber and Twilio. You can use Twilio Studio to route your bot’s flow and keep track of any data that comes in from the users talking to the bot. This also means being able to integrate with Flex, so that agents from their desktops can chat to viber users, speaking to them through the bot itself.
In terms of the overall process, a user messages the bot, the bot starts to reply using the Studio Flow as a guide, and the bot collects data that can be passed to Flex. Agents on Flex can see that information, and reply to the users on the same ‘conversation’. Those agents can also read the users’ interactions with the Studio Flow once they connect to the chat, giving them even more context about what the chat is about.
Sounds great. So, what’s next?
We’d like to follow the model we’ve developed for the Viber integration to keep adding channels. The next one we’re looking at plugging into Twilio Flex is Telegram Messenger, which is another globally accessible, encrypted, cloud-based instant messaging service. It’s huge in India. Nothing is confirmed yet, but stay tuned!
If you’d like to find out more about integrating Viber, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.