I have spent over 250 days on the road this year, collecting both frequent flyer miles and punches on my coffee card. During my travels, I heard from campus leaders on many key issues facing higher education including how to do more with less.
I entered 2017 thinking every school could benefit from having a call center. While my opinion hasn’t wavered, I’m ending the year believing schools with student contact centers can work even more efficiently.
As you push through 2018 planning, here’s some things to consider from your peers.
- Use outbound communications to be more proactive
Campus call centers are often viewed as luxuries that most campuses can’t afford. I think this misconception persists because campus call centers are largely used for handling inbound FAQs. While it makes sense to start here, limiting the center’s reach to only inbound caps your ROI potential for your employees’ time and technology costs. When you branch into outbound messaging and calling, you’re increasing your opportunity to reduce call volume by answering questions before they arise.
- Evolve student contact centers into one-stop shops
More convenient for students, one-stop models take student contact centers to the next level by centralizing student assistance for major departments like admissions, Bursar and financial aid. It gives your students one point of contact rather than several, increasing their chances of reaching out to get the help they need.
- Outsource to grow and balance out internal resources
To balance their staff’s existing daily tasks with new contact center responsibilities, many schools enlist outsourcing partners for help. With customer service expertise and advanced technology at the ready, outsourcing is a powerful and cost-effective option for institutions with limited internal resources.
- Take inspiration from the private sector
Regardless of industry, businesses are embracing customer centricity and incorporating it into every facet of their brand. While you might not like to think of your students as customers, the principles that underlie customer centricity are directly applicable to building more effective call centers on campus.
- More communication channels
As mentioned in #4, your students’ favorite brands have built the expectation of an accommodating service experience. They offer more communication channels like SMS/text, chat, email, and social media because they know everyone has their own preference. Students today may live on their phones, but they don’t necessarily want to use them to call you. They want channels that factor in their busy, multi-tasking lives. If they aren’t offered a channel they feel comfortable with, students will often just stay silent.
Student communication and management is evolving. It’s not just enough to build a student contact center. You have to continually reassess your performance and your students’ satisfaction so your call center adapts to changing needs and expectations. The start of a new year and a new semester is the perfect time to get a benchmark of where you are and where you want to be twelve months or even twelve weeks from now.