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Should Higher Education Offer Live Chat to Students?

Should Higher Education Offer Live Chat for Students?

Digital channels and technology have transformed how customers receive support, and live chat has emerged as one of the most popular communication channels of all. Many surveys have shown consumer preference for live chat over phone and email. At less than 1/3 the cost of traditional phone support, live chat for higher education also makes financial sense. 

However, every industry and its consumers have different needs and expectations. So, what about live chat for students in higher education? 

Today’s higher education students are primarily Gen Z (born 1997-2012), and it is this generation that has embraced technology more than any other. With 60% of Gen Z saying that they “hate calling people,” there’s never been a greater demand for universities and colleges to offer digital support channels that their students want to use. Here are the top reasons why live chat for students is the perfect combination based on the needs and expectations of today’s students. 

1. Convenience 

As well as disliking phone calls, Gen Z have a strong preference for digital communications. Phone support usually comes with friction around wait times, support hours, and the conventions of phone conversations that much of Gen Z are uncomfortable with. In contrast, digital channels like live chat remove these barriers. Given that Gen Z spend as much as 74% of their free time online, live chat for students is a no-brainer. Dawson College offer live chat to its students, and this is what they had to say: 

“Our students are mostly 17, 18 or 19 years old, and they naturally find live chat very easy to use. It’s also very quick for them – they can hop on a chat, ask us a question, and have their answer in a minute – all from their mobile device. It’s the perfect channel to help us engage with them and give them the support they need.” – Derek Gaucher, Coordinator of IT Solutions at Dawson College 

2. Speed 

Today’s higher education students have grown up surrounded by instant gratification. As Neil Patel puts it: “Instant gratification is the desire to experience pleasure or fulfilment without delay or deferment. Basically, it’s when you want it; and you want it now.” 

For these students, fast support is crucial to satisfaction and CX. In a survey of over 1000 individuals, 69% said that they judge the quality of CX based on whether they receive a “quick resolution.” 

When it comes to speed, higher education live chat beats phone and email support by providing instant, real-time responses to their questions. It also often means shorter wait times with the ability to offer chat concurrency. Chat concurrency allows agents to handle multiple conversations at a time so that they can be more efficient, quickly answering new chats while waiting for responses to ongoing conversations. This can even include proactive chat invitations for students on a website who may need some encouragement to seek assistance. 

Platforms like Comm100 Live Chat support additional agent tools that go even further toward improving the speed of responses, while ensuring consistent and high-quality support. Some of the available agent tools include: 

  • Canned messages 

The canned messages feature allows pre-defined responses to be saved for greetings, frequently asked questions, sign-offs, and more. This saves agents the effort of retyping repetitive messages while benefiting students with faster responses. Messages can be made public for the entire team to use or personalized by agents to inject personality into responses. 

  • Integrated knowledge base  

By integrating your knowledge base with your live chat solution, agents can easily search for and find the answer to students’ questions, all from within the agent console. Likewise, students can also easily search the knowledge base from inside the chat window. This allows students to find the solution to their problem without agent support, so reducing the overall number of inbound chats and keeping wait times down. 

  • Agent Assist 

Agent Assist is an AI-powered tool that helps agents to respond more quickly to questions on live chat. When a student asks a question, Agent Assist automatically reads the question and suggests answers to the agent, pulled from the knowledge base and canned messages. The agent can then simply click a suggested answer to send it. This speeds up response time as the agent doesn’t need to search for the answer, or even type it out.  

  • Automatic Routing 

To speed up service, you can automatically route chats to the right department or person based on pre-established criteria. By answering a quick pre-chat survey, students provide all the necessary information to make sure they’re talking to the right person every time. This means they won’t be passed around between agents and won’t have to repeat their question. 

3. Personalization 

Besides speed and convenience, students also demand support to be highly personalized. When surveyed, Gen Z had the following to say about their demand for personalization: 

  • 61% agreed that they ‘expect companies to anticipate [their] needs.’ 
  • 77% said they ‘expect consistent interactions across departments.’ 
  • 63% ‘expect all company representatives to have the same information about me.’ 

Higher education live chat provides this high level of customization by placing a wealth of information at the fingertips of support agents, right within the chat console. Here are some of the data points that live chat empowers agents to provide a personalized and genuine experience to every student: 

  • Previous conversation history: With Comm100 Live Chat, agents have access to every students’ previous conversation history. This empowers them to better understand each and every student and so know how they can help them more accurately and genuinely. You can take this to the next level by connecting live chat within an omnichannel platform that brings together conversations from every channel. No matter what channel the student reaches out on, the conversation history is accessible to the agent from the console. This gives even more background information to the agent and importantly ensures students never have to repeat themselves – 75% of consumers said they “hate repeating themselves” to customer service. 
  • Geographical location: Geographic location can be used to automatically route international visitors based on their location. And if they would rather speak in their native language, that’s not a problem. Comm100’s built-in auto chat translation allows you to customize your visitor side chat interface to any language, helping you meet the needs of international visitors and deliver localized customer experience. 
  • Contact details: Comm100 Live Chat stores visitor details within the agent console itself so agents have access to important contact information about a student. What’s more, this information can be edited within the console so agents can make sure it is up to date. 
  • Course history: As with contact details, personalized support details such as course history can be saved for students. This can allow agents to understand not only who they’re speaking to, but also what stage they’re at in their academic journey, and how best to support them. 

4. Support all day, everyday 

Live chat support is the best channel to connect with students, but few higher educational institutions can afford to provide this support 24/7. So, what can be done for those students, night owls, and weekend academics who want to connect with their school outside of standard business hours? 

A chatbot is the perfect answer to this expectation. When a team is offline, a chatbot can step in to answer students’ questions – all without any human supervision. Chatbots that are powered by AI can manage even more queries as they are able to understand intent, enabling them to respond to more types of questions, more effectively. With a bot tackling basic but common queries, agents have more time to focus on more complex or sensitive queries, making sure that every student gets the support they need. 

Like live chat, Gen Z are more open to chatbots than any other generation, and they are most likely to agree that bots make it quicker for their issues to be resolved. 

Comm100 uses a unified AI chatbot, meaning that the same chatbot introduced to a website’s live chat can also be deployed on social media. With a single chatbot responding across platforms, the chatbot has more opportunity to improve and provide the best possible student experience.  

Next steps 

As more tech savvy students reach higher education, it’s important for schools to keep up. Traditional phone and email support is no longer enough to satisfy the CX needs of existing students, or to engage with potential students looking for information. Live chat for students allows schools to provide service that is fast, convenient, personalized to student needs, and available 24/7.

Kate Rogerson

About Kate Rogerson

Kate is the Content Marketing Manager at Comm100. She has extensive experience in content creation for technology companies across the world, including the UK, Australia and Canada. She specializes in B2B messaging, branding and soccer trivia.