Tagged in AR tips


University Call Center Services: 5 Reasons Why Financial Aid Needs an FAQ Library

November 5, 2018


As busy campus departments like financial aid continue to be challenged by staff and resource reductions as enrollments increase, frequently asked questions (FAQs) libraries can help soften these burdens and provide relief to busy staff members. In our experience providing call center outsourcing to higher education institutions, we’ve found that whether you choose to use your FAQs for phone or in-person conversations or simply list them on your website for students to find, there are many positives to on boarding this simple, effective document.

  1. Reduce FAQ volume to refocus on more complex student questions

Department websites are great places to include searchable FAQs. While many schools list FAQs for prospective students, resources and information for students who have been accepted or are currently enrolled are few and far between. Students, particularly Millennials and other digitally native generations, often look to your website for help first. Busy offices may be able to slough off basic, easy-to-answer Tier I calls using their website, chat bots, and proactive blast messaging. These communication channels free up staff to focus on more complex matters that really require personal attention. 

  1. Ensure consistency of information

Inconsistent or inaccurate information presents problems for both students and your staff. Students are at greater risk for missing deadlines. Meanwhile, staff rush to help the student resolve the issue, stretching resources even further while also pushing other important tasks to the side. FAQ libraries ensure each staff member who is providing call center services delivers correct and timely information to each student. This can be especially important for offices that have high turnover rates or utilize student employees, where expertise and tenure can vary.

  1. Easily on board AI

While chat is not very common on campus websites today, the high call volume schools experience for its most basic inquiries does indicate a growing need for the technology. Plus, younger students, like Millennials and Generation Z, have come to expect this kind of technology in other parts of their lives, like the brands they buy from. There’s an increased expectation that every website they communicate with will accommodate their digital preferences. Having FAQs on hand to act as the base for AI scripting can make on boarding these kinds of tools much easier, affordable, and seamless.

  1. Increase efficiency and first-contact resolutions

While every student is different, by-and-large their inquiries and sources of confusion are fairly predictable and identical. As mentioned, FAQs protect the accuracy of information, but they also increase efficiency by having clear, concise answers for students’ questions. There are fewer instances of repeat calls to resolve the original issue and fewer escalations. At the same time, they help staff respond to more student inquiries by staying organized.

  1. Protect your school’s image and reputation

Students view their school’s staff as dedicated, reliable resources for information that greatly impacts their future. Younger students are shown to truly lack financial management/planning skills, which further complicate their ability to understand complicated promissory notes and the financial aid process. Working with staff who fumble to answer questions quickly or provide convoluted explanations rather than layman’s terms can break a student’s confidence and trust and make them second-guess what the rest of their higher education experience will be like.

FAQs are by no means a cure-all for addressing the influx of student questions busy financial aid offices face, but it is a practical and proven start. FAQs are more than just a staff tool. They can become the foundation of a large initiative to streamline service on campus while building stronger relationships with students.

Need help creating FAQs for your staff or interested in expanding your call center services for your financial aid office? Explore our university call center services, and let’s talk about your goals and challenges.


Featured Image: Shutterstock/Ulvur

5 Common Business Practices that Contribute to Customer Delinquency

June 11, 2018

accounts-receivable-managementCustomer delinquency management is always a top business concern. While most companies are very good about solving these issues on a case-by-case basis, many still struggle with making changes that help prevent the issues from reoccurring. The first step in solving the problems is identifying the root causes, and in some cases, your processes may even be driving some of these delinquencies. These are the five most common business practices that contribute to customer delinquency.

  1. Your invoices are difficult to read

When customers receive your invoice, do they struggle to understand what they’re looking at? Do you list numbers that could be confused for the total or an itemized description that is hard to follow? Do you explain the fees and charges they’re seeing or just list them? When possible, try to make your invoices neat and easy to read. Avoid using jargon. Instead, use clear, common language that’s easy for your customers to follow. Make sure that deadlines for payment are clearly displayed, as well as any associated penalties for late payment.

  1. Untimely invoice delivery

The later your bill arrives, the less relevant it is to your customer. As a result, you might not get paid until they need to do business with you again or are faced with consequences that can sour your relationship. Outdated contact information is one big reason for this, so make sure you’re taking proactive steps like outbound calling campaigns to keep your database updated. Or better yet, switch to electronic invoices. With so many customers accustomed to receiving their invoices this way, it’s become even easier to assume any physical mail is junk. Add text and email reminders to your outreach methods to stay in your customer’s mind and get paid sooner.

  1. Your terms are unclear

When is the payment really due? What days are covered in your billing cycle? How can they make a payment? If it’s a high balance, are payment options available or does it need to be paid in full? When presented with unclear terms, many customers get frustrated and put the bill aside with the intention of paying it later but then forget about it. If you can’t spell out the repayment terms at the time of purchase or during the contract phase, make sure to do so when you present the final invoice.

  1. You don’t have the right payment options

Convenient payment options, including auto-pay for recurring bills or online bill pay, are almost always expected by customers. Surprisingly, many companies still prefer mailed checks or in-person payments. Usually it’s because the technology to on-board more convenient options requires some investment and/or seems cumbersome to manage, but not offering these options is almost like encouraging customers to pay you later instead of now. By making payment more convenient for your customers, you’ll substantially increase the odds that they will take care of that important payment on time while also making customer delinquency management easier for you.

  1. You don’t follow up

In the age of customer-centricity, many companies have become leery of reaching out to customers when they’re past due, but it’s usually more helpful to them if you do. The trick to getting paid while maintaining a good relationship is making sure you’re reaching out in the right way. Again, text and email reminders are low-cost, low-effort reminders that feel valuable and friendly. As more time passes, you can escalate from electronic reminders to calls and then, if you need to, collections.

Customer delinquency management is a common struggle for many businesses. Late payments can negatively impact productivity, tangle your cash flow, and make it difficult for you to take care of your own payment responsibilities. While it can be difficult to manage problems like disorganization on the customer’s end or a lack of funds, you can make sure that you’re doing everything you can to improve customer payment rates and make reaching your financial goals a reality.


Featured Image: Shutterstock/Olivier Le Moal