Live chat and two-way texting are now available statewide for people receiving services in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
The live chat and texting platform also provides options to seamlessly transition the chat to voice and video calls without requiring users to download an app. This feature is crucial for virtual breastfeeding support or nutrition counseling needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With COVID-19, WIC had to shift from being a high-touch program — with personalized knee-to-knee counseling, height and weight measurements, and iron screenings — to a completely virtual service model,” said Amanda Hovis, director of Nutrition Education and Clinic Services. “The call volume really exploded. We needed a solution that would increase staff efficiency to reduce wait times and provide a virtual method for counseling needs. The live chat, text and video platform has expanded our ability to connect.”
The pilot program began Oct. 7 with the city of Dallas’s WIC program and their call center. While Texas WIC recently launched its Maya the chatbot feature, this new platform enables people to directly connect and chat or text with a client support representative.
“Clients love texting and chat because of the flexibility it allows them,” said Olga Sauceda, city of Dallas WIC Call Center supervisor. “They can start a conversation, then take care of something unexpected, like a crying baby or their child’s snack time, and come back later without spending time waiting on the phone or having to get back in queue.”
Prior to the platform’s launch, people receiving WIC services and potential clients had to call or email for assistance. Especially during COVID-19, the live chat and texting service provides the state call center and local agency call centers with an additional option to serve Texans. “Staff can handle up to three conversations at a time, so it allows us to provide better customer service to more clients at a time and reduce wait times,” Sauceda said.
Since its launch, Texas WIC and its local partners have recorded:
- 3,165 total chat sessions
- 1,619 text message sessions
- 1,546 online live chat sessions
To access the new features in English and Spanish, visit the Texas WIC Contact Us webpage. Staff are available to chat or text Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.