As companies continue to shift their contact centers towards a customer-centric model—anticipating needs and reducing friction points—so should schools with their students. Effective student communication is no longer just a servicing strategy, it’s a competitive advantage. When they get quick and friendly service at their favorite coffee spot or online bookstore, they come to expect the same from their college or university.
Moreover, students who receive clear, timely, and regular communications from their financial aid and business offices, are more likely to stay in school, not miss important deadlines like add drop or FASFA application, and repay their bills after graduation.
So how do you improve your institution’s customer service levels?
Increasing the efficiency of your contact center can be as simple as putting together some call maps and FAQ scripts. You want to make sure you’re giving accurate, complete, and consistent information to all of your callers. Scripting your responses to FAQ’s and reviewing them with your team helps keep everyone on the same page and can reduce repeat callers seeking fuller explanations.
Design Processes to Recognize Student Preferences
Today’s student is more diverse and mobile than ever, and that’s influenced the way each person likes to be contacted. A 2015 survey of college-bound high school students found that 60 percent of seniors and 55 percent of juniors were more likely to consider colleges and universities that use digital strategies for communication. Adding SMS/text, chat, email, and social media to your communications repertoire will help you reach more of your students more effectively and immediately. They also tend to be less expensive overall. No paper, no ink, no stamps.
Expand You Calling Features
Nobody likes to wait in line. It makes the caller feel unappreciated and only increases their frustration and sense of urgency. By including options like call back, virtual hold, or self-serve IVR, you can make waiting feel like less of hassle and show the student that you are trying to be respectful and considerate of their time.
Bonus Tip: Make hold times informative and useful by including announcements for upcoming deadlines and offers. But just remember to update the information as it expires.
Reevaluate for Improvements Regularly
Frequent reassessment allows you to refresh your technologies to keep up with demand and usage, as well as your processes and staffing. Start by looking at your student demographics and get a wellness check on your accounts receivables. Knowing if you have more non-English speaking students or a growing outstanding library charges portfolio will help you make the thoughtful changes where necessary to continue to support your entire student body more effectively.
For schools that can’t afford to expand their internal resources, outsourcing your contact center—in part or in whole—is a cost-effective option. By using a reputable outsourcing partner that understands the higher education industry and the long list of compliance rules and regulations, your school gets the benefits of a bigger team without incurring all the overhead costs associated.