Has Instant Message Killed the Phone Call Star?

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2 billion messages are sent between people and businesses on a monthly basis, according to Facebook. The days of huge call centres are, mercifully, passing away. New technologies are being developed to offer more efficient and cost-effective methods of providing customer service. Universities are already jumping on board with the new messaging platforms – with institutions like DeMontfort University making waves by offering clearing places via Whatsapp. Has instant message killed the phone call star?

The ‘Phone Call Problem’

Smartphones reign supreme, with 95% of 16-24 years olds owning one in 2018, according to Statista. But with so many apps and additional features, it starts to beg the question as to whether we can accurately call these ‘phones’ at all. More and more of our communication now comes in the form of messaging. Text Local found in a recent survey that 18-24-year-olds sent and received on average 128 texts a day.

So what does this mean for universities? 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. And the trend here is quite simple – 16-24-year-olds just prefer messaging over calls.

The fact is that students 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 to a university during 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.

How can you use this?

There are many different ways a university can utilise instant messaging. Here are just a few examples;

Real-Time Value – Unlike emails that can sit in inboxes unnoticed for ages, typically instant messages are read within 90 seconds of them being sent. This is great for cultivating real-time communication with potential students and this is perfect for time-sensitive events such as open days or application deadlines.

Clearing – Clearing is the perfect time to use messaging to get in contact with students. Emotions are high, time is sensitive and everyone wants to know they have their future all sorted out. As we have already mentioned, DeMontfort University made waves in 2017 by offering clearing places via Whatsapp to prospective students, and they aren’t the only ones. Southampton Solent and Staffordshire both used Instagram and Snapchat messaging formats to send clearing offers to students too. By taking the interactions from phone call to instant message, these universities have reduced the anxiety around clearing day for their prospective students.

Create a Community – And it doesn’t have to stop once the place has been offered. Group messaging could be a great way to connect accepted students before their course actually starts, allowing them to build connections beforehand. With segmented group features, you can target this in any way you want. For example, you could connect the accepted students of the same year group, or new students with ones currently studying so they have a support network to lean on.

However you end up using instant messaging, we would recommend syncing it up with a customer-relationship management system to keep track of all the data. This will ensure no message gets missed and will give usable data in the long run for how to streamline and optimise your own instant messaging practices. Instant messaging is a powerful tool for communicating with potential students. The potential for application is huge and can extend beyond just the initial contact/offer phase, right the way through the students lifetime with your institution.

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