How Chatbots Can Revolutionise the Way Universities Interact With Potential Students

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According to Facebook, 2 billion messages are sent between people and businesses on a monthly basis. The days where huge call centres were a necessity are, mercifully, passing away. New technologies are being developed all the time, offering more efficient and cost-effective methods of providing customer service. Chatbots are one of the leading innovations in this field – but how exactly can they be useful to universities?

The ‘Phone Call Problem’

A live-action shot of smartphones taking over everybody’s lives.

Smartphones and social media are now embedded throughout society like invasive plant-life, and it seems nobody can escape the grasp of their winding tendrils. Yet, it is newer generations who are by far the most exposed to this aggressive infestation.

Statista’s data reveals that 95% of 16-24-year-olds now own a smartphone. There are, however, question marks hanging over how appropriate it now is to refer to them as ‘phones’ at all. According to Ofcom, only 15 of the same age bracket consider a phone call to be their preferred method of communication. Meanwhile, 36% have instead determined that instant messaging is, in fact, the way forward.

So why, I hear you ask, is that remotely important to universities? Well, allow me to answer. It is integral that higher education institutions understand their target demographic. By taking note of trends amongst students, universities can further tailor their engagement strategies towards greater levels of efficacy. The trend to pick up on here is quite simple; 16-24-year-olds just aren’t making phone calls.

I can’t believe I have to speak to a stranger.

The fact is that they are now fully immersed in a world of instant messaging. They’re holding multiple conversations across different platforms at all times of the day, even when sat in the same room as the recipient of their messages. For many, the prospect of having to make a phone call–for example, to a university during the all-important period of Clearing–produces a sweaty-palmed wave of anxiety.

By offering the option of instant messaging services, universities can encourage potential students to engage with them in comfort and with confidence.

Chatbots – the Solution

This is where Chatbots show their incredible potential. Normally, to maintain an active and efficient instant messaging service, a university would need to use staff to take care of it all. Chatbots totally remove that requirement.

They can be programmed to learn to adapt to keyword questions such as ‘what grades do I need for this course?’ or ‘how do I book an Open Day?’. This makes them capable of handling all manner of enquiries a potential student may have, without the need for any human input.

The hope is that none of the Chatbots will ever reach this point.

On top of this, Chatbots being automated means that students can receive answers to pressing issues outside of working hours. This is extra important during busy peak-times of the higher education calendar, such as A-level results day or UCAS deadlines. As an already frantic and stressful period, making the process as easy as possible for potential students is integral.

A small thing such as being able to use an instant messaging service, rather than making a phone call, may be the difference between a student following through with their interest or not.

Both internally and externally, Chatbots can be used to save time, money, and needless worry. There is a good chance that they will one day be regarded as the norm for all business and institutions.

Get ahead of the game, and contact us at Touchpoint to discuss how you can best utilise Chatbots to help improve your student recruitment processes.

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