93% of global consumers ages 18 – 34 expect a brand or organization to offer online self-service. – Microsoft Global State of Customer Service Report
With arguably one of the most connected, growing and continuously-changing customer bases, higher education is making use of some of the private sector’s most successful customer service strategies (and technologies) to better serve thousands to hundreds of thousands of students, faculty, staff, parents, prospective students and alumni whether they’re all on one campus or around the globe. Higher ed innovators don’t just get the concept of students as customers; they’re mastering it in key ways:
1. Better and Faster Access to Information
Just like their private sector counterparts providing answers to frequently-asked product, service and support questions online, higher education institutions are using self-service portals anchored by a searchable knowledge base to give students 24/7 answers to questions ranging from “when does the fall semester registration begin” to “where can I find the financial aid form I need.”
Instead of getting two calls or emails from the student and the parent asking for the same information, enrollment offices only get one (or none) as students and related audiences begin self-serving. This is a win-win as students can access information and retrieve forms and documentation beyond regular business hours and student services can deflect a large number of in person visits or telephone calls so that they can give more time and attention to student with more complex and or time-sensitive issues.
2. More Productive and Accountable Support
Colleges and universities are incorporating online, mobile-responsive support portals with advanced multichannel service desks on the administrative end to make sure every question or issue – no matter where it originates – is received, tracked and answered in a timely fashion. Whether the questions come from email, an online form, support ticket, social media or another channel, students, prospective students, alumni and others are each treated like valued customers as their questions are quickly routed to the best person or department that can answer, and then timed and tracked for response and resolution.
Analytics allow student service and support representatives and managers to see in real time what’s working and what needs improvement, as well as provide insights and alerts into potentially trending issues.
3. Enhanced Social Media Responsiveness
Higher ed has more many years led most Fortune 500 companies when it comes to this category, and for good reason. Their millennial customers are the most active users of social media for communication, questions and support, so higher education has had to tackle this as a service and communication channel much sooner.
Social media monitoring and response capabilities are a growing need, not only for student service and support responses, but for reputation management, crisis management and coordinated and consistent communication across social media properties including alumni relations, student organizations, athletics, individual academic departments, foundations and more.
In addition, social media use for new student recruitment and communication has also soared in the past few years. According to the Chegg Social Admissions Report, half of high school students use social media to research colleges and enrollment, looking for responses to their questions ranging from academics and financial aid, to admissions processes and visits to the campus. Response times must be quick (61% of students expect a response within a day) and collaboration between multiple departments in providing a correct response must be coordinated, which is why multichannel customer service technologies work surprisingly well for higher education institutions.
As student expectations support and information continue to increase, the role of customer service in higher education will continue to grow and evolve. Customer service for serving students? It makes perfect sense.
Read How GSU is Leading through Innovation
Because of its use of cost-effective yet innovative solutions such as Microsoft’s customer service technology, Georgia State University is leading the way in student support and has been recognized for delivering on one of the most significant graduation increases in the nation.
Read their impressive success story and find out ways in which you can improve your customer service, no matter who your customers are.