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Engaging with students is difficult in higher education. Engaging with international students in higher education is even more difficult. Besides potential language barriers, institutions also need to be sensitive to cultural differences and customs.
Poor engagement can have a severe impact across the student experience – results, satisfaction, and even dropout rates. North American colleges have seen an average dropout rate of 40% for undergraduate students and as high as 50% at public universities. These student dropouts have a major impact on the bottom line of schools. One study by Stanford found that students leaving before graduation can cost institutions up to $40,000.
With digital technologies creating new opportunities to engage with students, it’s never been more important to embrace digital transformation in education sector. In this blog, we’ll look at the unique challenges that schools face in engaging with international students, and how digital transformation has opened a way forward for them with digital communication channels like live chat.
If you want to learn more about this topic and understand how you can engage with international students today, take a look at our new eBook.
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Across every demographic, there is a consumer move away from phone and towards digital communication, and for younger people, this digital preference runs even deeper. 52% of Millennials say they feel anxious about taking a phone call, and 60% of Gen Z say they ‘hate calling people’.
Students are seeking digital communication, and live chat and chatbots deliver precisely on their needs and expectations. Live chat platforms like Comm100 Live Chat provide students with accessible and fast support that they receive from other brands, and so now expect from their school too. In fact, 71% of 16-24-year-olds believe that customer experience can be drastically improved by quick responses. Chatbots take this level of support up a gear by providing students with 24/7 support so they can get the answer to their questions no matter the time of the day.
Let’s jump into some key live chat features that higher education institutions can take advantage of to improve engagement with international students.
Live chat is a popular channel with students, but its wealth of features means that it can become an even more powerful tool when used intelligently. Here we’ll look at some of the best live chat features for improving the quality and personalization of service when it comes to international student engagement.
Because people find communication in their native tongue most comfortable, providing the most personalized and helpful support means connecting with people on their terms. Using auto chat translation, Comm100 Live Chat allows international students to speak whichever language they prefer, no matter what the language capabilities of your support agents are. This feature automatically translates messages both to and from a visitor speaking a different language so that you can eliminate student hesitancy to reach out.
Developing relationships with international students is crucial to establishing the engagement that follows. A tool that has helped to narrow the gap between remote and in-person engagement is video chat. Not surprisingly, this feature has seen increased use in higher education to connect with students during COVID-19.
In one example, Dawson College used Comm100 Audio & Video Chat to host a virtual open house event in the fall of 2020. With COVID-19 restrictions preventing an in-person event, Dawson College still managed to reach nearly 1000 students from 17 countries over several days. Connecting through video chat provided an effective alternative to traditional face-to-face communication and allowed for relationship building that otherwise would not have been possible.
When international students need encouragement to reach out and ask a question, proactive chat invitations are the solution. Using this feature, live chat agents are able to either send a chat message unprompted or following a prompt that a student is visiting and may want support before they leave.
Automatic chat invitations can also be set to display whenever a visitor lands on your site. This feature can be used to provide a welcome message and prompt a dialogue or can be customized to show the latest news or other valuable information. Adding a proactive message can instill confidence in visitors that your school is committed to communication with its students.
Unlike confusing call trees that leave students frustrated, live chat can be established with routing rules in place so that students reach the right department every time. For international students, a status can be assigned that automatically routes these requests to a chosen team or department, ensuring that they get the support they need.
Since mobile apps are a major focus point for higher education institutions in increasing student engagement, it’s worth pointing out that live chat can be integrated into mobile apps to provide students with another way to easily reach out.
Thanks to developer-friendly Software Development Kits (SDKs), in-app chat can be easily introduced. With live chat available in your app, students will no longer need to visit your website and seek out the chat button. Introducing a mobile-friendly live chat means that students can reach out anywhere, anytime.
Now that we’ve established the need for digital support to engage international students, your next step is learning more about these digital channels. We’ve put together an eBook about engaging today’s international students, and the solutions available. Click here to download the eBook for more information on how to increase international student engagement.