As one semester ends and another one begins, simply returning to campus in January from the extended break can be daunting enough. Never mind the flurry of student and parent requests and questions bombarding your student call center. While January will never stop being a busy time, there are some things you and your student call center team can do to make your work life a little more manageable, based on Windham Professionals’ experience of managing calls for our higher education clients.
Understand and assess your call volume
Every student call center is unique, so it’s important to understand the drivers of your call volume and segment accordingly to plan an effective approach. Even if you don’t have access to detailed call data and trends, you and your staff can likely make reliable guesstimates to bucket volume (e.g., 40% deadlines, 20% paperwork, 10% payment issues, 5% Spanish-speaking callers, etc.). Knowing how volume breaks down can help you draft missing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), staff according to demand, and assess technology needs.
Meet with staff
To avoid misunderstandings and errors, gather your staff for an in-person meeting. It doesn’t have to be long, but you should use the time before students arrive back on campus to get everyone on the same page. Review process and informational changes. Set goals and service expectations. Field questions and concerns. Already know what they’ll ask you? Then be sure to prepare thoughtful responses to avoid on-the-spot explanations and subsequent confusion.
Update your call center’s FAQs
The foundation of any well-oiled student call center is drafted FAQs. It’s another way to keep every team member on the same page. FAQs also speed up talk time by having your most common questions and answers at your fingertips, helping you to get through more calls in less time.
Post some FAQs on your website
Studies show that 73% of millennials prefer self-service, so there’s a good chance they’ll check out your department page before contacting your call center. Since many FAQs and inbound calls revolve around deadlines and traditional paperwork processes, even posting your top ten FAQs on your department’s website could significantly reduce call volume, allowing your team to focus on more intricate student issues.
Increase outbound communications to students
Reducing call volume can sometimes be as simple as being more communicative with students. Schools often rely on snail mail or school-provided email addresses. Unfortunately, many students check physical mailboxes too infrequently. They’re also more likely to check their personal email, especially during breaks or after graduation. As students re-enroll this semester, get their permission to text them and consider requiring an alternative email address.
Seek out student pain points
If there’s anything you can do at the start of the semester to prevent delinquency woes later, you should do it. Misunderstanding bills, grace periods, or loan requirements are just a few of the pain points that students encounter that can lead to past due accounts. Review your paper communications and invoices to re-familiarize yourself with what your students are looking at when they call you. And, again, update your FAQs accordingly. Perhaps even consider sending out a novice-friendly support document.
You can’t prepare for every call your student call center receives, but taking a few small steps to better support and resolves the ones you know are inevitable can go a long way with students. The suggestions above don’t take much time to implement, but they could save you and your team members hours in the long run and simplify your workload.