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Connecting with international students is simply not easy, and it has been made even more difficult with the onset of Covid-19. New enrolments by international students at colleges and universities in the U.S. have declined for the past five years. However, with pent-up demand and anticipated surge in international enrolment in 2022 following the end of pandemic restrictions, schools need to get prepared so they can connect, engage, and attract international students.
To gain traction with prospective international students and effectively support current students, it’s critical that schools have a digital omnichannel support system in place.
In this blog, we’ll look at the technology behind omnichannel digital support, and how to engage international students by meeting their support expectations.
For many schools and colleges, the question of how to engage international students is common. To begin answering this question, institutions must begin with digital support.
For today’s students, digital communication isn’t just preferred – it’s expected. When surveyed by Pew Research Center, 45% of Millennials said that they are online “almost constantly.” To reach this demographic, living online, higher education institutions need to be in all the digital places that students are.
A digital omnichannel platform allows schools to easily expand the scope of their digital channel offering. Students can reach out via live chat, social media, email, or even SMS – and every message will be funnelled into one unified agent console. This gives students the choice that they expect, as well as ensuring your agents never miss a message.
One of the key reasons that students have adopted digital communications is for the ease of access and availability. With traditional phone support, a caller might be passed between multiple agents before receiving an answer. Digital channels like live chat provide a more seamless experience, routing a student’s query to the right person or team the first time. It also provides students with instant responses.
Speed of service is the next major reason that schools should look to digital omnichannel support for international student engagement. As students have grown up in a digital world, a desire and an expectation for instant gratification has developed. Research shows that a whopping 71% of 16 to 24-year-olds and 65% of 25 to 34-year-olds think that customer experience can be drastically improved by a quick response.
By integrating every digital channel into one console, an omnichannel solution provides agents with the tools needed to provide support that is considerably faster. With a knowledge base integrated, for example, agents can quickly find resolutions to student queries. Agent-facing AI-powered tools can even be used to recommend articles to agents that can then be quickly forwarded to students. Combined with chat concurrency, agents can more quickly support a larger number of students at a time. This significantly reduces wait times compared to traditional phone support.
Integrating a bot into an omnichannel platform allows the benefits of automation to reach every digital channel. With a chatbot handling simplistic and repetitive questions, students can receive immediate support for common issues. Meanwhile, agents are able to spend more time with students who have more complex or sensitive issues. We’ll be looking at another major benefit of chatbots in the next point.
Providing around-the-clock support is quickly becoming a must for any organization, and especially for schools hoping to attract international visitors in other time zones. Gen Zers now expect to engage with a brand whenever they choose. While traditional phone support comes with steep overhead costs that prevent most organizations from extending support hours, chatbots allow any institution to provide 24/7 support.
With an AI chatbot integrated into an omnichannel support platform, students can receive support immediately, at any time of day, on any digital channel. This means that one chatbot can be developed and deployed to immediately provide support on live chat, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, SMS, Twitter, and more.
While chatbots are still a new concept to many organizations, adoption of chatbots has grown significantly in recent years. Importantly for higher education institutions, Gen Z and Millennials are the demographics most likely to have used chatbots in their most recent interactions. These age groups are also the most likely to agree that chatbots make it easier and quicker for their issues to get resolved.
We’ve seen that digital omnichannel provides fast and accessible support. However, for international student engagement, personalization is also key – and digital omnichannel platforms provide this. By connecting every channel together into a unified platform, every conversation and the data within it are connected too. This means that no matter how a student chooses to connect, their conversation history is available, including resolutions to any previous issues.
In practice, this means that when a visitor sends a message on live chat, their profile information is also available, which could include:
With this information available, your agents can quickly understand the student’s history and deliver the personalized, fully contextualized service your students expect. This personalized support is necessary to achieving digital CX excellence.
Another feature that certain digital omnichannel platforms provide is auto-chat translation. Because your students may be more comfortable speaking in a native language, chat translation becomes an important piece of support. Auto chat translation features can allow your visitors to speak using whichever language they prefer, with messages automatically translated between the visitor and agent. With chat translation in place, international students can feel more comfortable to reach out for support.
If you want to learn more about how to engage international students, take a look at our brand new guide below:
Today’s students have incredibly high support expectations. Learn how your school can meet these expectations and improve every stage of the student lifecycle.Read more