The type of experience a student receives from one brand will affect how they judge an experience with another, no matter the industry. In other words, today’s students are likely to judge the customer support from their higher educational institution by comparing it to other experiences like ordering food online or booking a cab via a mobile app.
With these experiences now setting the bar for customer experience, educational institutions are no longer just competing with others in their industry – they’re being compared to every digital experience that the student has ever had.
Live chat is the first step towards delivering a great student experience, but to really take advantage of this channel, you need to know how to use it and what student expectations are within this channel.
To help you do just this, we have pulled the key education metrics from our 2021 Live Chat Benchmark Report, alongside top live chat best practices, that will help you exceed your students’ digital expectations.
Wait times are key to any customer service team. From analysis of our 2021 Live Chat Benchmark Report, we found that live chat teams in education sector have an average wait time of 70 seconds. This is far above the average at 38 seconds, and indicates that a lot needs to be improved to take this wait time down and provide a faster experience that students expect.
Here are some ways that higher educational institutions can reduce live chat wait times:
1. Employ agent efficiency tools:
The first and easiest step to reduce wait times is to use efficiency tools within your live chat platform. Keyboard shortcuts, for example, can help agents respond faster by reducing navigation and typing. Canned messages take this a step further. Canned messages are pre-defined answers to frequently asked questions that agents can select without having to type out the full answer every time. This saves agent time and speeds up the conversation, so helping to reduce wait time.
2. Agent-facing AI:
Comm100’s agent-facing AI, known as Agent Assist, monitors incoming conversations in real time and suggests the best answer to the agent. This keeps agents from having to search for answers, empowering them to deliver rapid-fire responses that have been vetted for accuracy.
3. Encourage self-serve with a knowledge base – internal and external:
The more students that resolve their issue without agent support, the lower your wait times will be. This is known as self-serve, and the great news is that it is a popular and expected channel. In fact, 70% of customers expect a company’s website to include a self-service application.
A strong knowledge base is core to self-serve and should be accessible on any site. Better still, integrate your knowledge base within the live chat window so when a student opens a chat, they can perform a knowledge base search within the chat window before they start a conversation. This helps to reduce the number of common queries coming through to your agents, and so contributes to lower wait times.
Chat duration varies widely across industries, primarily due to the nature of the conversation. In our Live Chat Benchmark Report, we discovered that chat duration within education live chat teams is far higher than the average at 18 minutes 53 seconds. This is also much higher than the previous year’s which was 10 minutes 30 seconds on average.
A lower chat duration obviously has its benefits, allowing agents to handle more agents in a given time. However, over the past year, we have seen a significant shift in priorities due to the growing emphasis on student and customer experience. Partly due to the pandemic, managers have begun shifting value away from shorter chat duration in favor of developing relationships with students – and so allowing agents to take longer to resolve queries.
This is not to say that educational institutions should allow chat duration to rise too high – after all, we know that a key reason why students like live chat is for its speed. However, it does show that live chat teams are recognizing the need to balance speed with quality of service and showing students that they care. Here are some tops ways live chat teams can improve the student experience on live chat.
1. Video and audio chat:
As we explained earlier, developing relationships with prospective and current students is crucial, and while live chat does this brilliantly, there’s another tool educational institutions can use to take this personalized customer service up a level – video chat.
Video chat brings students face-to-face with agents and helps them to connect on a more personal level. This is all the more helpful in the age of COVID as many universities and colleges remain closed. Dawson College faced this problem in the fall of 2020 and used Comm100 video chat as their solution.
In 2020, Covid-19 restrictions rendered Dawson College’s traditional open house event impossible. As an essential part of its enrollment strategy, administrators feared that without the event there would be a significant drop in enrolment.
In a moment of ingenuity, Dawson College came up with the idea of holding a virtual open house event through live chat, supported by video chat. The virtual open house took place over several days and saw almost 1000 students from 17 countries speak with hundreds of department reps. Video chat allowed department reps to develop a more personal connection with the students and begin building relationships that are always so important to the success of an open house event.
Read the full Dawson College customer story