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3 Ways Chatbots Help Colleges Meet the “Need for Speed”

With so much enrollment uncertainty, speed becomes the secret ingredient.

Written by: Damon Vangelis, Founder & CEO

Colleges face considerable uncertainty around Fall enrollment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meeting enrollment goals will be harder than ever, and competition for students will be even greater than it has been in recent years.

To engage with students effectively over the next few months, schools would be well-served to focus on the speed of their communications with students. Not at the expense of personalization or quality. But finding ways to provide information in a quick and timely manner. This minimizes the chance students get frustrated, and it can maximize the level of engagement.

For example, when students and prospects visit a school website or phone in, they want to find the information they’re looking for quickly and effortlessly. If they can’t, they will get frustrated and leave the website or drop the call — potentially negatively impacting the school’s enrollment and retention numbers.

Artificially Intelligent chatbots are an affordable and scalable way to provide a speedy, personalized solution, especially when paired with mobile messaging and nudges.

And when a school sends out a mass text message, what happens if students have follow-up questions? Staff can get inundated, and it can take a long time to respond individually to every student. AI chatbots provide students a quick way to get their questions answered.

If you are considering adding an AI chatbot to your communication toolkit, here are three reasons how chatbots’ speed can drive engagement:

1. Chatbots quickly handle common frustrations

According to the 2018 State of Chatbots Report, the top two most common frustrations people have with online services are that: 1) websites are difficult to navigate (34%) and 2) they are not able to find the answer to a simple question (31%).

With a chatbot at your disposal, you’ll be equipped to instantly answer about 80% of routine questions, keeping site visitors engaged and satisfied.

2. Chatbots offer the fastest customer service option

According to the 2018 State of Chatbots Report, 69% of consumers prefer to use chatbots for the speed at which they can communicate with an organization.

Two institutions paving the way are the University of Wyoming and Pima Community College in Arizona. With Wyoming’s chatbot “Cowboy Joe” and Pima’s “Aztec”, they’re always available to quickly respond to students’ inquiries. According to an Artificial Intelligence report in the New York Times, “for 99 percent of queries, the bot [Cowboy Joe] responds in 6 to 10 seconds [and] if it lacks an answer, it offers to ‘check with a human and get back to you.’”

Moreover, imagine an at-risk student that could be dealing with any number of issues: performance, financial aid, etc. Now imagine the student getting frustrated with the lack of speed in customer service and s/he gives up and drops out. It is a bad outcome for the student and a bad outcome for the school.

The “need” for speed is in getting students answers to their questions, and triaging them so students that need real help actually get it. If not, bad things can happen.

3. Chatbots dramatically reduce time spent navigating

Searching and navigating is becoming eclipsed by chatbot technology. Simply put, schools will lose students if they have to steer through multiple departments or comb through websites to find the resources they need.

Think of a chatbot as a direct portal to desired information. Search bars and menus aren’t going anywhere but if you want to drastically cut down the number of clicks, a chatbot is a great way to reduce friction.

The wrap-up

As answers became more quickly and readily available, the time we were willing to wait has gone down drastically. Millennial, Gen-Z, and pretty much any “consumer,” student, or parent expects an immediate response. In fact, according to a report by HubSpot, 90% of consumers rate “immediate” responses as important or very important when they have a customer service question.

In the age of convenience, speed is everything. Implement a chatbot at your college to quickly handle common frustrations, promptly answer customer service questions, and to reduce the time it takes for users to navigate your website.

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