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Impact Snapshot

  • Answered over 424,237 questions to date via chatbot, saving $2,216,638 in resources

  • Saved 587 weeks of staff time

  • Reduced inbound emails and phone calls by 30%

  • Re-enrolled 3,000 students, recovering millions of dollars in tuition with just one texting campaign

About Bakersfield College

Bakersfield College is one of the oldest continually operating community colleges in the nation, focusing on their mission of “providing a rigorous and supportive learning environment that promotes equity and fosters students’ abilities…enabling them to engage productively in their communities and the world.” With a headcount of 40,185 for 2022-23, Bakersfield College knows it must prioritize the use of technology to continue to provide an excellent student experience. 

The Challenge

Managing the volume of financial aid questions for Bakersfield College had become a challenge, with 75% of the student population receiving financial aid. Jennifer Achan, the Executive Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships, wanted her team to connect with students individually and have quality interactions with them. However, they were unable to do this with the volume of daily inquiries.

Daniel Hall, Director of Student Success Technology at Bakersfield College, recognized that many other departments were struggling to address the volume of inquiries they received daily. Their teams were overwhelmed with emails and phone calls, prompting Daniel to explore potential AI-powered solutions like chatbots.

We really wanted to connect with the students on an individual level and reduce barriers for them if they weren’t able to come in — or just reach them on different types of platforms.”

Jennifer Achan
Executive Director of Financial Aid & Scholarships, Bakersfield College

The Solution

Initially, Bakersfield College decided to partner with Ocelot to implement its AI Chatbot for the financial aid department. As the chatbot’s success grew, Daniel and his team knew this solution could work for every department and office across campus, potentially serving tens of thousands of students. The team decided to realize this potential, implementing the chatbot — branded “RenegadeBot” after the college’s mascot, the Renegade — institution-wide.

Implementing the chatbot across multiple departments and programs was a collaborative effort. Daniel and his team designated individuals in each department to build the chatbot’s knowledge base. Within a week, they had their knowledge bases established, enabling a swift implementation and almost instantaneous student support

Renegadebot was an immediate hit, leading Bakersfield College to expand their AI solutions, implementing Ocelot Two-Way Texting to communicate with their students about Bakersfield Student Services. Two-Way Texting proved to be such a successful channel to communicate with students that it was also adopted across all education pathways for enrollment.

Currently, the texting campaigns cater to specific student enrollment management needs and time-sensitive announcements, including enrollment events (both virtual and in-person), onboarding events, recruitment for TRIO and Kern Promise programs, recovery grant recruitment, financial aid applications, and more.

On top of the AI-powered solutions, Ocelot’s integrations with various applications and systems make it even more valuable for Bakersfield’s administration. The financial aid team has really appreciated the ease of pulling data and the seamless collaboration with Five9, a phone campaign software. This integration allows staff to send information via text or chat while on calls with students, enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of their communication.

The Impact

The impact of RenegadeBot cannot be overstated, as it has handled over 424,237 questions to date, saving $2,216,638 in resources*. Additionally, the chatbot has saved Bakersfield College staff ample time by handling popular questions. In fact, RenegadeBot has saved 587 weeks of staff time and reduced inbound emails and phone calls by 30%!

Additionally, Ocelot’s AI Chatbot enabled the financial aid office to increase the number of applications for financial aid and proactively reach out to students to inform them of various financial aid tasks and deadlines to ensure their financial aid was successfully processed, and to remind them of the importance of maintaining satisfactory academic progress.

Bakersfield College has also gotten a lot of value from Ocelot’s Two-Way Texting, sending 1,633,400 texts and reaching 220,689 unique contacts. In fact, with just one text campaign sent to 6,000 students notifying them of unpaid tuition that would prevent them from re-enrolling, 50% of those students took action and were able to re-enroll, recovering millions of dollars in tuition fees for the college.

*According to IBM Watson’s study that estimates answering a single questions costs $5.5 and takes 3.5 minutes to answer. 

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