With the uncertainty around COVID and what the new academic year will look like, universities across the UK have seen a huge influx of customer support enquiries and many have been unable to scale to deal with the demand.
For students, applying, being accepted and starting in higher education can be a demanding process, with the stress being exacerbated when communications from the institute are less than optimal. Excellent customer communications have become a competitive advantage.
Assuming that the student has made it to their university of choice, effective communications on the Universities behalf is essential, and it doesn’t take long for the institute to realise the benefits.
1) Building a brand and reputation for an institute
COVID has added layers of stress, and the latest exam debacle in the UK is a reminder about the importance of effective communications. Many prospective students remain unsure about their “place” status. Inbound communications to universities by phone, email and text have skyrocketed over the last few weeks.Prioritising and ensuring responses through the most appropriate channel has been critical and it shouldn’t just be during the start of term. It’s important that universities keep the response times and efficiency in answering queries consistent across each channel. Ensuring efficient queue management, using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automating your mundane processes will all help to deliver an improved customer experience in your universities contact centre.
Those universities that have deployed cloud-based contact solutions have been able to provide a more flexible, timely and efficient means of responding, which in turn has helped reduce student stress.Social Media is a fantastic channel if visibility is required. The majority of students have some sort of social media account, whether it is Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Using Social Media channels to post-course updates will increase visibility and also have the benefit of having relevant information all in one place. More so, good social media exposure builds a fantastic reputation for the University.
2)Taking the stress off students shoulders
Due to COVID, students cannot function as they have done previously: the way they live, study and have fun is up-in-the-air. Universities must be extremely directional in terms of what this means. Whether it is a mass or targeted, email is the go-to channel. A contact solution should be able to help prioritise and target—for example, emails to notify the changes to accommodation and university start date.A prospective student we spoke to has said that she suffered anxiety due to the uncertainty of the situation, amplified by a lack of communication from the University, she found herself obsessing over her email inbox, but rarely receiving any updates. She felt very strongly that the stress would have been avoidable with more productive and effective communications.
3) Multi-channel is the name of the game
Students and parental guardians shouldn’t have to wait in an hour-long phone queue. Especially when surrounded by alternatives such as SMS, email, social media and webchat. That being said, relying on email is not sufficient in itself either. Okay, an email may be the most appropriate form of communications, but inbox noise is working against it being seen. If a message needs to get to a student urgently, SMS has vast potential.Think about contact at multiple levels, for example, if you had an SMS saying ‘you have an urgent message in your email inbox’ you would straight away look at your emails. Adapting to this multi-channel environment is a necessity, not a nice to have; relying on voice or email alone is no longer tenable.Communications; inbound and outbound must be coordinated, which is why it is vital to have a cloud contact solution. Flexibility is critical, as is the ability to innovate around your communications strategy. Waiting is not an option; implementing a cloud-based solution means that you can be up and running in weeks. You can read more about how we helped the Capital City College Group here.
To find out more about Puzzel’s omni-channel cloud contact centre solution, book your free custom demo!