Colleges and universities can use an AI Communication Platform to provide their students with quick and easy ways to engage with their institution, like via SMS text messages or a chatbot on the school’s website. If the AI is stumped at any point, a human staff member can then be looped in for a call, email, live chat or video meeting.
Behind the scenes, the AI is learning from all collective interactions. This learning makes the AI smarter over time. The interactions also provide the college or university with a tremendous amount of data that can help the institution improve existing workflows and processes.
Here are five (5) examples:
1. Flexing Staff Capacity for Peak Times
Data within the AI platform tracks student engagement. Over time, administrators can glean a variety of patterns and trends from the interactions. Track usage on an hourly, daily and weekly basis. Doing so enables an institution to anticipate when students use the platform the most. If the school has capacity to staff live chat, it can anticipate when staff will be most needed, so that it is efficient in allocating their time.
2. Raising the Bar on Outbound Communications
We have observed many instances in which a college or university sends out a message (most often an email communication or an announcement on the website) that was imperfect, and consequently generated confusion among students. Shortly after the communication was issued, questions began being asked within the chatbot. This data can be super helpful to an institution. If there is opportunity to clarify the initial communication, then revised messaging can be drafted and sent so that students have clarity around and potential confusion or miscommunication.
3. Making Forms Completion Easier
A perpetual source of friction for students is the completion of paperwork, forms and applications. An AI Communication Platform can help streamline the process for gathering data for these forms. By reviewing data in the AI platform, particular challenges can be surfaced around form completion, as well as the time of year those hurdles are most pronounced. This data can be useful in tweaking forms and/or providing helpful tips and better instructions, which will make the process easier for future students. In addition, by identifying the time of year that students have the most trouble with particular tasks, the chatbot can be programmed to lead with proactive options for students to better get the assistance they likely need at that time of year. Proactive and timely SMS messages can also be sent to students offering assistance as well.
4. Identifying Information That Confuses Students
So much of the friction for students in enrolling and persisting in college – particularly for first-generation students – is making sense of higher education terminology. Think of terms such as 1098-T, RT24, the FAFSA and SAP (Satisfactory Academic Progress). Over time, AI can identify the terms that are most confusing for students. This gives institutions insights into where there are opportunities to clarify what these terms mean, explain why they are important, and guide students to resources (including online videos) that make them easier to understand.
5. Creating a Single-Source of Truth
A robust knowledge base within the brain of an AI Communication Platform ensures that information provided to students – across various channels – is consistent, current and accurate. This is a triple win: 1) it provides students with accurate information; 2) it provides the institution with an efficient repository that can be the single-source of truth for all communications; and 3) it can also become a resource and training tool for advisers and staff to reference on an ongoing basis (and leverage with onboarding and training of new staff). With the “great resignation” in full swing, having a single source of truth can be a stable resource that stands the test of time, even as staff come and go.
So much of the attention on artificial intelligence and AI Communication Platforms is on the front-end, focused on how students interface with the technology. While this technology does indeed create a “quick first step” for students to engage with their institution, the data being learned from within the system has huge benefits for the institution. This is especially true when it comes to improving workflows that can further remove barriers to student success.