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A Text is Only as Good as Its Chatbot

The path to a 360 degree approach to student engagement starts here.

We recently penned a blog titled “When a Text is Worth More than a Text”. In that piece, we addressed the issue of texts becoming “white noise” when they are too frequent. We don’t want students “tuning them out”; we want the texts to be a source of positive engagement.

The ideal “sweet spot” for texting is a cadence that is appropriate, targeted, and actionable. When using these criteria, it becomes easier to plan and execute a meaningful text campaign.

Similarly, when conducting a campaign, it pays to be thoughtful about the potential responses from students receiving the message. It is important to have a plan for addressing student responses — or your institution may not be able to meet the student support demand you may create from your text campaigns.

One way to be prepared is to include an AI chatbot with a texting campaign. Why? 

Consider a scenario where your institution sends out a large number of texts to students. Who is available on staff to respond in a timely fashion for any students who — in the moment — have a question or want more information? 

With texting, students will want a prompt and sometimes even immediate response. That’s what you can get with an AI powered chatbot — prompt, consistent, and personalized responses to help sustain engagement and guide a student to the right resource. This helps your institution achieve two wins: 1) giving students a great experience and 2) leveraging your staff so they can focus their efforts on more complex situations. 

In our experience, advisors are drawn to work in higher education out of a desire to make a difference in the lives of current and future students. Using technology like chatbots helps them triage the needs of their students and gives them tools to scale up their capacity. Advisors are a scarce resource. We need more of them. But budgets are limited. Chatbots can be an affordable way to grow their impact on students.

Beyond answering questions and having conversations, AI chatbots paired with texting campaigns provide a 360 approach (both proactive and reactive) to student engagement and can impact a number of institutional goals. Some notable ways an AI chatbot can make a difference, include:

A Consistent Experience

Students want clarity. They want simplicity. Use chatbots to provide consistent messaging around processes and resources. A common knowledge base underpins a chatbot and can ensure that conversations and answers are tailored how the institution wants them to be. Effectively grow your “staff bench” by having a repository of knowledge that increases over time and is not disrupted by turnover or retirement.

Engagement that Drives Enrollment and Retention

Text messages are a great way to check in, nudge students along through various processes, let students know you are thinking about them, and stay visible in their lives. Pairing a chatbot with text campaigns is an efficient way to help students book meetings with staff, connect with a live agent (when available), reset passwords, resolve Holds, and complete repetitive tasks. The possibilities are endless, and we are just scratching the surface when it comes to the ability of chatbots to impact work-flows.

Reduce the Roadblocks

Success in college can come down to navigating the “college experience”. For first generation students in particular, the terms, processes and prioritizations are new and can be very confusing — often leading to frustration. A chatbot is a great tool to help students understand complex concepts in a step-by-step fashion. Students can be intimidated to ask a person a question. Give them an opportunity to get their question answered via technology, and fall back to staff as needed.


The Wrap

We are just now starting to realize the power of technology in higher education to drive engagement and enrollment. Texting is a great way to connect with students on their mobile devices. They generate far higher open rates, engagement, and understanding than email or snail mail. But they can unintentionally open up a massive demand “on the reply text” side. Using an AI chatbot to handle the load in this area can be a great way to engage students in a way that is truly successful, and reduce frustration rather than creating more.

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