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Today’s students are digital nomads. Technology doesn’t just come easy to them – it’s where they want to interact. If colleges and universities want to improve student engagement and retention, they need to be where they are – online. Moreover, they need to cater to their online expectations. This means speed, accessibility, and personalization.
This is where live chat and supporting chatbots come into play. This blog will look at the benefits of live chat in higher ed and why colleges and universities must adopt these technologies if they want to acquire, engage, and retain today’s students. Let’s dive straight in.
Every support team’s main objective is to please its customers, whether they be students or patients. To do so, they must offer them communication channels that they prefer and simply put – students prefer live chat. A survey of Gen Z and Millennials found that 60% “hate calling people”, while 75% of people prefer live chat over any other channel.
Phone support is less accessible to students, coupled with anticipated wait times and often limited scheduled availability. On the other hand, live chat for higher ed is more accessible to students owing to its digital nature. It also typically has lower response times because agents can concurrently respond to multiple chats. This is by far one of the most important benefits of live chat in higher ed.
With the introduction of chatbots, wait times can be eliminated entirely. Not only can chatbots respond immediately to students, but they can also handle unlimited chats. Chatbots can resolve many types of inquiries entirely without human intervention, allowing for the introduction of 24/7 support that further increases their availability to students. When handling more complex issues, bots can be used to initiate chats and then pass students seamlessly to a live agent for additional support.
This takes us on to perhaps the most important reason for the popularity of live chat and chatbots – the instant nature of live chat. A student knows they can type a question and within seconds get a response. This perfectly caters to their expectations for instant gratification. For schools supporting these students, higher ed live chat is not just a matter of preference, but an essential service.
Read more: Improving Student Engagement – Why Phone Support is Dead
Quality of service has become incredibly important for higher education institutions as a way of differentiating themselves. It makes sense that schools introducing digital services would be cautious about the quality of support that live chat and chatbots can provide, so it’s reassuring that the data shows that well-built chatbots are efficient without harming the student experience.
The support provided by chatbots depends entirely on the way that they’re built, and the types of inquiries that they’re being tasked to resolve. Because of this, understanding how to introduce chatbots becomes an important factor to create a positive experience for students.
Chatbots excel in responding to interactions that can be classified as ‘low value’. These include requests such as password changes, inquiries about availability and office hours, and similar questions that have straightforward responses. Importantly, these same interactions can monopolize the time of live agents. By routing these chats directly to a bot, you free up live agents’ time so they can respond to more complex or sensitive requests that are of ‘higher value’.
We’ve looked into the ways that live chat and chatbots serve as highly efficient support channels. With this in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising that higher ed live chat is also the most cost-effective support channel available too.
Compared to traditional phone support, live chat can be up to 30% less expensive. This goes back to the concept of chat concurrency, meaning that a single live agent can respond to multiple conversations at a time, while phone operators are limited to handling only one conversation. When introducing chatbots, the efficiencies only grow.
Find out for yourself – Chatbot ROI Calculator
As chatbots become better at responding to common inquiries, the need for live agent intervention diminishes, and chatbots can handle the majority of requests. A success story of this approach is seen in Tangerine, an Australian network provider that uses Comm100 AI Chatbot to handle chat requests.
After recognizing that the majority of chat requests were repetitive and had a straightforward resolution, Tangerine introduced Comm100 AI Chatbot. Routing rules were established to determine which requests should be handled by a live agent or bot, and soon the chatbot was handling the quickly increasing number of chats received. By December 2019, as many as 91% of chats were being resolved by the chatbot, representing over 6,400 chats daily.
With the ability to handle high chat volumes, chatbots then also reduce the need to increase support team sizes, as it did for Tangerine:
“The bot has allowed us to not only effectively manage the increase in chat volume, but it’s also saved us a considerable amount of money by not having to hire a lot more agents.”– Richard Branson, COO of Tangerine
Live chat is often touted as an incredibly effective sales tool for eCommerce sites. However, when used well, live chat can also be used as a student acquisition tool too, as Dawson College showed.
Every fall, Dawson College runs an open house event for students as an essential part of its enrolment strategy. However, pandemic conditions in 2020 prevented this from happening so Dawson College came up with the idea of holding a virtual open house event, using live chat to speak with the students and answer their questions. They knew that creating a personal connection with the students was essential to the event’s success. Taking this one step further, they decided to incorporate Comm100’s video and audio chat solution into the event. Built in to Comm100 Live Chat, the video solution allowed students to speak face-to-face with hundreds of department representatives.
With the combination of text-based and video chat, Dawson College connected with 950 students from 17 countries and didn’t allow the challenges of Covid-19 to damage student acquisition.
Read the full story – Dawson College Holds Virtual Open House with Live Chat & Video Engagement
As seen in the example of Dawson College above, higher ed live chat not only helped them to reach more students – it also helped them to reach the lucrative audience of international students.
With international website visitors seeking information in their native language, Comm100 Live Chat features built-in auto chat translation so international students can communicate in the language that they prefer. This feature translates messages to and from visitors speaking a different language, allowing your agents to easily bridge the language barrier.
With routing rules in place, inbound international chats can also be directed to a specific agent or team to make sure international visitors are getting the support they need. International students can be assigned a status to ensure their chats are routed in the same way to a specified team or department.
When increasing the reach of engagement, schools also can’t overlook the 24/7 support capabilities introduced by chatbots. Unlike traditional phone support that typically has restrictive calling hours, chatbots can be used to cross the barrier introduced by time zones. If a request requires a live agent response when an agent isn’t available, a message can be left that can be responded to as soon as a live agent is available again.
As we’ve seen, the benefits of live chat in higher ed are numerous, and are even greater when a chatbot is added.
Comm100 offers live chat and chatbots for higher education that the very best universities and colleges are using today, such as Thompson Rivers University, Cambrian College, Montgomery College and many more. If you’re interested in finding out more about Comm100’s offering, you can find out more here.