Tagged in campus call center


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

November 5, 2018

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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

6 Ways to Keep Your Student Call Center Sane This January

January 18, 2018

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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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

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5 Ways Student Contact Centers Can Achieve More in 2018

December 18, 2017

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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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.