Three ways universities can improve the digital experience for students today


Higher education institutions are under great pressure to digitally transform, especially with regards to the student experience.

It won’t come as a shock to anyone that most undergraduates (and postgraduates) are now Gen Z. These students grew up in a world where everything from TV shows to takeout is available at the request via their smartphones. As such, the need for instant gratification is high among this peer group. Additionally, higher tuition fees and increased competition mean that the demands of this cohort of students are higher than ever.

However, we cannot ignore that 2020 has changed everything. Students and parents of all ages and generations have become digital natives overnight. So expectations around easy-to-use self-service digital options for every interaction, no matter the situation, have accelerated.

The good news is that we are seeing digital being embraced by some. For example, it is widely recognized that the oldest academic institutions in the UK – such as the University of Oxford – have prioritized the digitization of their student experiences.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for all organizations in this sector. Many still lag behind when it comes to providing personalized digital support to students and as such put themselves at risk as the world and their students change.

Here are three challenges you can overcome with the right tools and technology to improve the student experience today.

1. Meet students on their favorite digital channels

Traditionally, universities have relied on telephone and email as the primary means for students and parents to access support – from compensation and inquiries about student finances, to technical difficulties and mental health support.

The reality is, however, that not all of these events require speaking directly to an advisor and could be handled faster and much more helpfully through the channels that students use day-to-day.

Consider that 80% of people are now beginning to solve a problem in search. Giving students access to support through a variety of digital channels – including research – is not only the optimal approach for theirbut it also takes some of the burden off your advisors.

Imagine optimizing your search approach so that students receive how-to blogs on “how to upload my essay to the student portal” but are guided to an empathetic advisor when reviewing “struggling with mental health in college” on social networks.

Once a digital contact center is adopted – which analyzes student data, offers self-service options and the use of various digital channels for support – high call volumes are reduced and service improved.

2. Empower faculty and students with expert knowledge

When it comes to the student experience in higher education, the biggest barrier is knowledge management. Knowledge bases usually consist of unstructured knowledge, poor search engine crawling, and disconnected content. This widens the gap between the university and the student – ​​and hinders productive communication between the two.

With the right AI-powered technology, you can empower advisors with the insights they need in real time to deliver an expert and personalized student experience.

It might even be essential to help reduce the pain associated with admissions and clearing, by providing students, as well as parents, alumni and faculty, with the right course information and availability, when they need it. need.

3. Offer 24-hour expedited support

Students are already used to receiving instant customer support, whether they’re making an online purchase or reporting a problem on their social media accounts. It is therefore not surprising that they expect the same level of service from their university. Whether studying at home or studying abroad, they need support anytime, anywhere.

Yet traditional methods of answering student questions involve 9-5 helplines and limited office hours to speak with attending professors. To overcome this traditional approach in a way that works for everyone, you need to turn to technology that can help you analyze data to provide actionable insights.

Higher education institutions have an abundance of student data. This is an asset that, when analyzed, can lead to problem solving quickly and easily. Student Behavior Insights can take this even further, allowing you to meet the student early in their journey – whether it’s research, social media, or application – and provide free- digital service where it makes sense. It’s both convenient for your students and a more cost-effective solution for your institution.

Bridging the gap between student experiences and digital experiences with AI

Digitizing your student services can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be with the right tools at your fingertips. AI-based technologies that can analyze data and provide actionable insights are key to improving student experience in a digital world. And with AI rapidly becoming an integral part of the customer experience, higher education institutions have no choice but to integrate this powerful enabler into their CCaaS stack. All you have to do is take that first step.

By Maria Adey, District Account Manager, UK, PLEASANT

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