The Live Chat and Chatbot Guide for Higher Education

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Chapter 4

Taking the next step with AI chatbots

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 you do to be there for those international students, night owls, and weekend academics who want to connect with you out of your typical customer service hours? After all, 58% of Millennials expect to be able to connect with a company whenever they want to.

A chatbot is the perfect answer to this expectation. When your team is offline, a chatbot can step in to answer the students’ questions, as well as accomplish tasks for them – all without any human supervision, 24/7.

To be clear, there is a difference between chatbots and AI-powered chatbots. Chatbots that run on keywords and without the benefit of AI technology like Natural Language Processing (NLP) are common, easy to spin up, and can work well in the right context. However, chatbots that are powered by AI take the student experience up a level.

AI chatbots can engage in far more natural conversations; they’re far more accurate at understanding your students’ intentions, and as a result, can respond more effectively. If you’re wondering where to start with chatbots, here are just a handful of use cases they can handle:

24/7 service: Chatbots provide an additional channel for students to still get answers during off-hours so they can get assistance on their schedule, not yours.
FAQs: Chatbots can handle common questions to free up your agents to handle the more complex or sensitive queries.
Gathering student information: Chatbots can pass off the who, what, where, when, and why to an agent, helping them contextualize queries and reducing time spent on each question.
Shorter queues, faster responses: Chatbots can handle an unlimited amount of chats simultaneously. They can also deliver responses more quickly than human agents.

One of the most important best practices for you to keep in mind is that a chatbot should never be a replacement for your agents. While 59% of all chats now involve a chatbot, 86% of customers agree that there should always be an ‘escalate to agent’ option present when talking to a chatbot.

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