nib chatbot offers advice on health insurance

nib says it has become the first health insurer in New Zealand to offer customer assistance from an artificial intelligence powered virtual consultant, aka chatbot.

The move follows the company’s announcement in August that it had chosen software from US based MaritzCX for customer experience management across New Zealand and Australia.

nib said the chatbot, dubbed ‘Frankie’ would “help provide convenient, timely responses to our customers’ enquiries about our recently launched new range of health covers,” and would enable the company to provide 24 x 7 service.

nib general manager of direct and partnerships, Ben Rose, said: “By harnessing the power of artificial intelligence, we’re giving our customers the ability to ask questions 24 hours a day allowing them to get the information they need without having to wait for a customer service consultant.”

The company said Frankie would be able to provide instant responses to a variety of common enquiries about its new product range and would also learn from these enquiries “meaning that Frankie becomes smarter and more intuitive as it interacts with customers.”

However nib’s announcement also said that Frankie was on probation, saying: “The trial service reflects nib’s commitment to improving its customers’ experience through the health insurer’s culture of innovation and ongoing investment in the latest advances in technology. hellip; Based on the success of the virtual consultant during the trial, nib will make Frankie a permanent member of the nib family and expand the questions covered to include more general customer service enquiries.”

It added: “Frankie, won’t be replacing any human employees. The virtual consultant will be supported by nib’s expert team of customer service agents with customers still able to contact nib via phone or email if they prefer to speak to a real person.”

The nib initiative is that latest to reflect the growing use of chatbots for customer service. In May Community Law Wellington launched a chatbot to provide information to parents and students about schools and education throughout New Zealand.

And chatbots have been getting good raps from some serious industry heavyweights: none other than Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, and Facebook’s head of messaging, David Marcus.

The UK’s Observer newspaper reported in late 2016: “Nadella and Marcus see chatbots as an important new human/machine interface. Both of their companies have launched tools to help developers create these bots, and between April and September, more than 30,000 were made for Facebook Messenger alone.”

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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