nib unveils ‘industry first’ chatbot


Newcastle-based health insurer nib will join its banking industry counterparts by launching a new AI-backed chatbot service.

The web-integrated “virtual consultant”, called ‘nibby’, will allow customers to pose text-based questions to the insurer and receive “simple responses” from the platform.

Should questions become too ‘complex’ for the chatbot’s in-built AI, they will automatically be referred to a human sales or claims consultant to answer, the company said.

nib’s chief information officer, Brendan Mills, said the service will offer greater convenience for its customers, giving them choice over when they interact with the company, “without having to wait for a consultant”.

“It’s an investment that allows us to harness digital technology to grow our business and customer service capability, while maintaining our high level of customer service around the clock,” Mills said.

The chatbot will be able to learn from its interaction with customers, “becoming smarter and more intuitive over time,” he said.

“As nibby builds its knowledge bank it will be able to respond to an infinite number of customer enquiries, supplementing existing employees and freeing them up to deal with more complex issues,” Mills said.

Developed in partnership with Amazon Web Services and Australian tech developer DiUS, the chatbot was brought to market within four weeks.

nib has made a concerted effort to boost its technology profile, with nibby reflecting the insurer’s “commitment to innovation in healthcare and ongoing investment in technology to improve the customer experience and meet the rapidly changing needs of consumers,” the company said in a release.

“We believe there is a strong role for technology, including AI, to play in healthcare by empowering customers and improving the way we service them,” Mills added.

“We’re also looking to use AI to improve operational efficiencies and augment our existing teams for smarter decision making in areas such as customer retention, claims and fraud detection,” he added.

Customers will be able to access nibby through the company’s website, accessible via desktop, tablet or mobile.