As more colleges and universities are realizing the benefits of using AI to better communicate with their students, it seems everyone wants a piece of the pie. Take customer relationship management (CRM) vendors, for example. From Slate to Salesforce, solutions that are great for managing student or customer data are now dipping their toes into the student communication space by introducing text messaging functionality.
And while research shows that college students prefer texting over other methods of communication, using your CRM to do so might not result in the student outcomes you expect. Here are three of the biggest reasons why.
1. Lack of strategic support.
Effectively communicating with students starts with understanding the higher education market. Many CRMs were built to solve problems for companies, not campuses. And although some might offer student texting as an additional feature, you’re more likely to make an impact with a solution built specifically for communicating with college students.
From day one, AdmitHub was developed to meet the communication needs of campuses. And our AI-powered chatbots are scientifically proven to improve student outcomes. In a randomized controlled trial at Georgia State University, texting with AdmitHub’s AI chatbot was shown to increase completion rates of key enrollment steps, boost enrollment by 3.3 percent, and decrease summer melt by 21.4 percent.
And we don’t stop at just the admissions process. We’re a proven partner who can take your students through the entire higher ed journey — from enrollment to student life and beyond.
2. Not all chatbots are created equal.
Most higher ed solutions offer bots for college websites to help their visitors navigate or handle frequently asked questions from a knowledge base. They also use chatbots to blast out text messages, much like they do email.
However, if you’re using a CRM for texting, you may be missing out on some critical ways to support your students, including the ability to:
- segment contacts for more targeted reach
- schedule proactive nudges in advance
- gather real-time feedback with student surveys
- escalate messages to staff based on keywords or phrases
While many colleges might think they want a web bot, they’re missing out if that’s the only way they interact with students. Even with a chatbot on the website, or via Facebook Messenger, students still have to take it upon themselves to visit the website and start a chat.
On the other hand, with proactive nudges via text, you can reach students wherever they are in a friendly, one-stop-shop conversation where they can ask questions back at any time. This allows you to gather information along the way so you can have meaningful conversations and gain actionable insights to help push students to complete tasks like meeting deadlines or completing applications — or easily direct them to a human if necessary.
That’s what’s different about our AI chatbots. With every interaction, the AI gets smarter, the answers get better, and the conversations more relevant. And when our chatbots don’t know an answer, or a topic is identified as priority, questions are immediately sent to a person.
At AdmitHub, we’ve logged 40,000 hours of bot training on the backend to ensure that students get the information they need, any time of the day or night, saving you precious staff time. In fact, our chatbots answer more than 80 percent of questions automatically, within seconds, with an average accuracy of 85 percent.
3. Students can’t relate.
Getting students to take action means speaking to them in a way they understand, and allowing them to respond in their own language. However, many vendors take the opposite approach, feeding a list of FAQs into their model, resulting in a bot that requires students to ask questions using formal language and providing matter-of-fact answers that don’t engage students.
At AdmitHub, we’ve built everything around how students talk, with the help of natural language processing (NLP). This way, administrators can be sure they get their message across in the most relatable way and encourage two-way conversations.
Members of our student advisory board — who are current college students themselves — train our chatbots on how to use the right language, including gifs, emojis, video and even slang. And we encourage institutions to give their bots a personality and train them to answer personal, vulnerable questions to build trust and increase engagement. This ensures that students view their chatbot like a friendly advisor rather than a robot, making them more likely to ask questions that will help them be successful.
“AdmitHub is about creating joy and showing kindness. Sometimes we’re accused of being too fun. But students respond well to it because it’s in their language. It’s in their voice.”Corey Beale, AdmitHub EVP of Sales
We’ve seen that most schools experience an increase in the amount of questions students ask in the 24 hours following a campaign. And most of those questions don’t relate to the campaign topic.
Allegheny College understands that having a conversational, friendly voice makes a big difference when it comes to personalizing interactions with every student. With a rise in inquiries and applicants, and limited staff, they needed a way to maintain the personal touch that students have come to expect from them.
They found the solution with AdmitHub, bringing their alligator mascot “Chompers” to life as the school’s chatbot personality. With nudges from Chompers, and back-and-forth conversations to answer student questions, Allegheny saw an increase in student housing forms completion, higher Facebook engagement, more student evaluation submissions, and more than twice the amount of registrations.
But, your CRM can make texting better.
Where your CRM, learning management system (LMS) or student information system (SIS) can help improve student communication is through data. When passed through to AdmitHub, you can build robust student profiles to help better target and personalize student communication rather than send out blanket communications.
Georgia State University integrated data from their CRM and SIS so their chatbot “Pounce” could send personalized messages to students they knew weren’t making progress or needed help. For instance, Pounce only sent financial aid reminders to students who hadn’t yet completed their FAFSA forms.
Chatbot experts or CRM add-ons? You decide.
Guiding students to success on campus means providing them with the most accurate, relevant information in a way that motivates them to take action. For that, you need more than just data, or a tacked-on texting feature.
You need an intelligent, comprehensive platform built from the ground up with students in mind. A partner who understands your challenges and how to overcome them. And the conversational, human touch that gets students to take notice.