We all need time off and to find time for ourselves. But what do we do when we feel like our job won’t let us take the time off that we need?
Recent surveys have cited student and mental health as a chief concern among college leaders. Coming out of the pandemic, there is understandably focus and concern for the well-being of students and staff. The past 18 months have been challenging broadly and super intense individually. It’s important that all of us find ways to balance work, school, and life – and find ways to recharge.
Summer can be a great time to recharge: to take some time to rest, relax and take a break from school or work.
In order to facilitate opportunities for student support staff to take time off, institutions need sufficient coverage in order to handle ongoing student inquiries and needs while staff is not at full strength.
Artificially intelligent (AI) technologies such as AI-powered chatbots, AI-powered live chat, and AI-powered two-way SMS texting campaigns can provide the sort of coverage that can support your students while the office is closed or at reduced capacity.
Here are a handful of use cases in which AI technologies can extend the reach of staff, in order to facilitate and enable time off for staff:
So many efforts to engage and communicate with students require manual work. Take, for example, a text message campaign intended to nudge students to complete registration paperwork. And then imagine that a certain percentage of the recipients have questions. Normally, staff need to be available to answer questions. By using AI-powered, two-way SMS texting campaigns, staff can schedule the campaign and arrange for an AI-powered chatbot to handle any questions that students may have thereafter. Using this combination of technologies reduces burdens on staff, while providing students with quick answers to their questions. Doing so also reduces frustration and wait times for students.
Extend the “3rd Shift” Coverage to Fridays
AI-powered chatbots can handle student inquiries that come in after hours – the “3rd shift” as it is often referred to. By using AI-powered chatbots to handle these questions, students can have 24/7 access. And if/when the office is closed on Fridays, chatbots can be turned on to help cover the other two shifts. This technology will never fully replace the one-to-one individualized support, but we can all agree that there are plenty of inquiries that do not need to be handled by a staff member. It is also nice to have a system in which there is consistency of information provided. If you have ever worked for a college or university and been involved with daily customer service, you know that the answers you provided at 5pm are not always as sharp, detailed or consistent as the ones you provide earlier in the day. After all, we are all human.
Engagement to Reduce Summer Melt
It is important that your institution stay in good cadence and rhythm with incoming students during the summer. This goes a long way to reducing the dreaded “summer melt” in advance of the Fall semester. AI-powered two-way SMS campaigns are a great way to stay connected with students during the summer. Simply schedule the campaigns in advance. Take the time off you need, and don’t miss a beat when it comes to meeting goals and expectations around enrollment.
AIaaS Manages The AI
An emerging approach to AI is AI as a Service (AIaaS): the AI partner provides not just the “AI” technology platform but also manages the “AI” so that the institution does not shoulder the burden of routine maintenance and ongoing training. That is exactly how we roll here at Ocelot.
An AIaaS model enables chatbots to have more impactful conversations with students that can range from admissions and registration to student life and housing. In other words – Ocelot does the heavy lifting when it comes to managing the technology and building the AI algorithms, so our higher education partners can focus on creating more impactful service and content for their students.
This approach further enables staff to take time for themselves, knowing that a partner is minding the AI to ensure it is always getting smarter..
For us to be at our best, and give the best to our students, we need to be sharp. Overworked, burned-out and off-balance does not serve us or our students well. AI-powered technologies can create the sort of redundancy and extra capacity that enables staff to take time for themselves, particularly over the summer months. Coming off a global pandemic that pushed all of us in so many intense ways, being able to take down time is more important than it has ever been. AI-powered technologies can enable staff to effectively take time off – without reducing the quality of student service and support your institution or department seeks to provide. By embracing this technology, students, staff and the broader institution can all benefit.