Health insurer Bupa has added WhatsApp messaging to its customer service channels, providing consumers with an alternative to waiting on the telephone.

The service means customers who are on hold will be given the option to communicate in a secure WhatsApp messaging channel with a real person and enjoy the same level of expertise they would receive over the phone.

It comes at a time when more customers are calling contact centres due to temporary Bupa retail store closures as a result of COVID-19.

Developed in partnership with LivePerson, this solution represents the first time in Asia-Pacific that diversion to WhatsApp via Interactive Voice Response (IVR) has been made available for public-use. Previously, companies were only able to divert customers to SMS.

Daryl Niemandt, Bupa’s Director of Customer Service, said being able to choose WhatsApp messaging instead of waiting to speak to a customer service team member on the phone will be extremely useful for customers during peak periods such as tax-time.

“To make this a success, we bolstered the numbers of messaging agents and delivered specialised training on WhatsApp customer service delivery. Upskilling our team is a key element in developing Bupa’s Contact Centre of the Future,” Niemandt said. 

During the launch phase, WhatsApp Chat invitations have been offered to around a third of all callers with WhatsApp installed on their devices.

“With customer appetite for using the service growing steadily, our intent is to open this up to 100 per cent as soon as possible. We are extremely excited about the possibilities,” Niemandt said.

“Initial results have been extremely promising with customers appreciating the freedom to multi- task while having their enquiry resolved quickly and effectively over message,” Ms Niemandt said. 

This announcement comes after Bupa’s launch of the Automation Innovation Academy in March which aims to embed new artificial intelligence and automation technologies into its business.

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