We got to chat with Katie Carroll, Assistant Director of Orientation and Student Recruitment at the University of Wyoming, who manages their AI chatbot, “Cowboy Joe”, about her experience from first implementing a chatbot on campus, to seeing continued positive impact on student outcomes and engagement.
When the University of Wyoming was first considering a chatbot, what challenges were you trying to solve for?
Katie: When we first reached out to AdmitHub, we were really focused on reducing summer melt. We launched our chatbot in May of 2018, working primarily with confirmed students to make sure they stayed on track to matriculate that fall. We hoped to have the largest incoming freshman class that year, which we did! Thanks very much so to the help of Cowboy Joe, we were able to decrease summer melt by over 30%.
How do you and the university approach student communication?
Katie: Recently we started working with our Institutional Marketing Enrollment Management team, and collectively as a university, to focus on what messaging makes the most sense to send out at what time, and to what group of students. Cowboy Joe is one of the many layers of that strategy; it’s the easiest to deploy, and we know we’re going to get students what they need.
What impact has your chatbot, Cowboy Joe, had on the way you communicate with students?
Katie: Cowboy Joe has truly become a team member for us! He’s helped to build relationships with our students, focusing on what the University of Wyoming stands for — hospitality and a true “cowboy state of mind” — all while helping them through the process of applying to UW and arriving on campus. Both the chatbot and the AdmitHub team have allowed us to provide answers and responses to students when they need it most.
What has been one of your favorite campaigns that you’ve sent with Cowboy Joe, or your most successful with students?
Katie: Over the summer, we sent out trivia questions about the university. Not only did it help keep students engaged throughout the summer, but it really brought to light the traditions and excitement about the university. Our orientation programs take place in June, so students were advised and registered for classes ahead of time, but with Cowboy Joe, they were consistently reminded why they chose the University of Wyoming. They were learning about the history of the university in a fun, non-invasive way, so on the first day of classes they felt part of the community and the university as a whole.
This particular survey had a 35% response rate, and most students got the answer correct!
How have students reacted to Cowboy Joe?
Katie: Our students love Cowboy Joe, so much so that when we’ve ended one cohort of students in the recruitment phase, they’ve actually gone to our Dean of Students Office asking “Who do I go to next?” or “Why did Cowboy Joe have to leave me?”. Students tell him that they love him, and that he’s been a wonderful resource
What impact has Cowboy Joe had on the staff at UW?
Katie: Cowboy Joe has become a huge resource to our team. He’s saved a huge amount of time for staff throughout all of the university. We’re not having to answer as many phone calls or answer as many emails because students are able to text the chatbot and get their questions answered speedily, whether it’s at 1pm or 1am.
What have you been able to achieve since launching Cowboy Joe?
Katie: We brought in two of our largest incoming freshman classes with the help of Cowboy Joe and the AdmitHub team. We’ve also been able to streamline our communications and save quite a bit of time so that our ambassador and recruitment teams could focus on travelling and connecting with students in their communities.
What has it been like to work with AdmitHub?
Working with AdmitHub has been one of the best decisions we’ve made in our recruitment process. The whole team is always focused on us as an institution and how they can help us help our students. Whether that’s through monthly meetings, working on building campaign content, or answering questions about how to approve something in the knowledge base, or working on agendas for an on-campus visit as they’re flying from Boston, Massachusetts to Laramie, Wyoming, our AdmitHub team has been wonderful to work with.
They’ve made this transition to working with an AI chatbot seamless and easy, from implementing and onboarding our chatbot to continuing his presence on campus. I’m the least technologically-advanced person on our team, but I feel like I can do light years of work with the support they provide.
I always look forward to calls with our partner success team. They’re so true, and down to earth, and focused on our students. I think they’re like their own version of an AI chatbot in human form because their response time is just as quick as Cowboy Joe’s.
You can watch the recording of our webinar with Katie about building a communications team and what it means to manage a chatbot!