6 Reasons Why Web Self-Service Makes a Leaner, More Responsive Institution
 

6 Reasons Why Web Self-Service Makes a Leaner, More Responsive Institution

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A technological evolution has occurred among the modern educational institution, with the rise of the Internet making institutional websites the driving force of student interaction and information ...

A technological evolution has occurred among the modern educational institution, with the rise of the Internet making institutional websites the driving force of student interaction and information delivery. For many Administrators and academic institutions however the operational and financial benefits the web offers have made any “debate” over its merit last no longer than a few minutes, let alone a few decades.

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6 Reasons Why Web Self-Service Makes a Leaner, More Responsive Institution 6 Reasons Why Web Self-Service Makes a Leaner, More Responsive Institution Document Transcript

  • IR Knowledge Se ri es 6 Reasons Why Web Self-Service Makes A Leaner, More Responsive Institution And 5 Schools That Made It Happen Penn State University University of Wisconsin Harvard University Extension School York University Cuyahoga Community College 4,000 hours annually, or almost 3 full-time employees for a typical institution = the hard costs of unanswered online queries and their impact on in-bound queries to the admissions office.
  • 1 6 Reasons Why Web Self-Service Makes A Leaner, More Responsive Institution & 5 Schools That Made It Happen “The times they are a changin’.” – Bob Dylan Bob Dylan understood technology’s role in a changing world. His infamous switch from acoustic to electric guitar set off a fiery debate among Dylan fans – a debate that is bantered about among music aficionados everywhere, even today. A similar technological evolution has occurred among the modern educational institution, with the rise of the Internet making institutional websites the driving force of student interaction and information delivery. For many Administrators and academic institutions however the operational and financial benefits the web offers have made any “debate” over its merit last no longer than a few minutes, let alone a few decades. In this paper, we present six key reasons why educational institutions are turning to their most valuable informational asset – their own web site – to stay lean and responsive, and better address the demands of their constituents, even as enrollment demands soar and budgets swoon. Rising Expectations Amidst Falling Budgets The changing times that educational institutions now face are characterised by an ever-increasing demand to do more with less. Getting and keeping good students has never been more competitive. Government funding continues to decline. Donors are tapped out, and existing endowments are running dry. So how are modern higher education institutions able to thrive is such an environment? Salvation comes, in part, with the help of new technologies that 1) ease the burden on Administrative staff, 2) reduce the overall cost of serving current and prospective students, and 3) simultaneously enhance the student experience as students interact with the institution. The stage upon which these efficiencies play out is your institution’s web site. The online environment is far and away the preferred venue for interacting with schools among your tech-savvy audience of current (and future) students. More and more colleges and universities are recognising this preference, and making their web sites the “first point of interaction” where students go to quickly gather information and find answers to problems – on their own – and with extremely high levels of satisfaction. This is the “doing more” part of the equation. The “with less” part comes in when you understand the cost savings to be had when web-based technologies are used to reduce the inefficiencies that can plague Enrollment, Student Services, Registrar and other administrative departments in higher-learning institutions today.
  • 2 6 Reasons Why Web Self-Service Makes A Leaner, More Responsive Institution & 5 Schools That Made It Happen 1. Today’s tech-savvy, impatient students will not tolerate inefficiency. When looking for information online, today’s student demographic knows what they want. With burning questions in mind, they are not willing to hunt through your school’s web site for answers, and picking up the phone to dial for support is virtually foreign practice for them. If their experiences on your web site begin to hint at the need to hunt, they are likely to simply stop and look elsewhere for answers. What happens next? A current student may be forced to email or phone your Admissions staff, and incur costly one-on-one conversations to answer the most elementary of questions – not to mention leave them with a sub-optimal experience. A prospective student may simply visit another school’s web site and never return to yours. In short, with this impatient and web savvy demographic, it is the institution – not the prospective student – that ultimately suffers from the limitations of the web site. 2. Inefficiencies in administrative operations hold your school back. Inefficiencies within Administration departments are not hard to spot. One ubiquitous example is the administrative staff that becomes mired in repetitive phone conversations, or email exchanges with students. “We receive many phone calls and emails each day from students asking the same questions,” is a common refrain among Administrative departments today. To deal with this deluge of incoming emails, your staff have likely taken a “cut and paste” approach where, rather than typing out an answer, they manually respond to emails by cutting and pasting pre-written text answers to common questions. Any time savings are, of course, negligible, because staff still exert considerable manual effort that could otherwise be spent on more “high value”, critical activity that drives results – like evaluating new applications, and quickly identifying top students. 3. The hard – and soft – costs of administrative inefficiencies are staggering. How many questions do staff at your institution field in a single year? Consider the real cost in staff hours of these interactions using this real-world experience of Temple University in Philadelphia. Temple University is a comprehensive public research university, and the 27th largest university in the United States with a student body of 35,000 (25,000 of whom are undergraduate students). x = x 200 incoming requests per day, either by email or phone 5 minutes average to respond to each request 16 hours 40 minutes per day 240 work days per year TOTAL COST IN STAFF HOURS = 4,000 hours per year, or almost 3 full-time employees per year. Note the above example only takes into consideration the amount of requests that are received by your institution. What about the impact to your school of simply “losing” the interest of those individuals who encountered an inefficient web site and decided not to take the extra effort to email or phone your institution to continue their quest for information? We have some insight into this number using more data from Temple University. Temple enhanced their online user experience with the addition of an intelligent answer agent feature. (See the “Ask an Owl” feature at http://www.temple.edu/undergrad/contact/) Since implementation, the intelligent answer agent has answered nearly a quarter of a million questions for Temple. This averages to over 500 incoming questions per day. From this, we can assume that prior to leveraging the web in this fashion; the school was missing out on the opportunity to provide a positive experience in over 300 instances each day! View slide
  • 3 6 Reasons Why Web Self-Service Makes A Leaner, More Responsive Institution & 5 Schools That Made It Happen 4. Major costs savings can be realised with advanced self-service technology on your web site. Advanced self-service technologies (also known as “e-services”) streamline the online experience for users. These e-services include email, chat, click to call and instant answer agents. What is an instant answer agent? A web-based software solution, generally posted on an institution’s web site, that allows users to key in common questions and provides answers in real-time. Compared to phone support, these advanced e-service technologies offer significant cost savings, coupled with extremely high user satisfaction scores. Service Channel Phone Cost Per Interaction up to $25 Email $5 to $10 Chat $5 to $7 Instant Answer $1 or less The Folly of Phone Support Think phone-based support delivers a higher quality “customer experience” for your students? This is a common myth. When students are online, they want answers to their questions to be accessible immediately online, not later over the phone. Picking up the phone is seen as a chore and not an ideal means of resolving elementary questions or issues. The irony, of course, is that most institutions incur maximum costs to deliver what is actually a non-preferred service. What Self-Service Is Not It’s important to distinguish, however, that not all “self-service” features result in high user satisfaction. A web site’s search feature – even a robust one - is not an optimal self-service tool. Searching a phrase like “tuition fees,” for example, can return hundreds of search results, leaving the user no better off. This is equivalent of taking someone into a maze, leading him through the first few turns, then leaving him to do the rest. Technically, you’ve brought him closer to the end result, but there are still endless frustrating options standing between him and the desired outcome. Likewise, online Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) pages are often an inefficient means of self service. They are usually too sparsely populated to be useful, or so comprehensive that they, as well, require far too much exploration to get closer to the answer. 5. Immediate ROI is just one benefit. Cost savings that come from freeing up administrative staff are directly measureable on the bottom line, but this immediate ROI is only the beginning of the benefits, other soft benefits include: Administrative staff can be freed to focus on activities that contribute positively to the school, like identifying top students from an ever-increasing deluge of applications. Cost savings ease the pressure on revenue growth – pressure that often ends up in mandated headcount increases when staff resources and physical infrastructure are already over-taxed. The University of British Columbia eliminated the need for a planned increase in headcount by 25 after adding instant answer technology to their web site (http://www.ubc.ca/). Current and prospective students are just two stakeholder groups who benefit from the addition of efficient e-services. Staff and faculty too can use these technologies to quickly find answers within intranets. As well, overburdened IT departments who struggle to administer help desk services (especially with the student influx each fall can leverage the same technology to alleviate the burden. Temple University and Cincinnati State Technical and Community College are two schools that use instant answer technology to drastically reduce emails, phone calls and in person visits to their help desks. View slide
  • 4 6 Reasons Why Web Self-Service Makes A Leaner, More Responsive Institution & 5 Schools That Made It Happen 6. Many other institutions have already figured it out. (You needn’t reinvent the wheel.) There are many examples of institutions that made the online experience efficient and smooth for students, and who are reaping the rewards. Some universities that use advanced e-services effectively on their web site are shown below: Institution 1) Penn State University Web Site Penn State World Campus 2) University of Wisconsin UWW Admissions 3) Harvard University Extension School Harvard University Extension School 4) York University York University | Get answers to your questions now. 5) Cuyahoga Community College Ask Tri-C For More Information For more information on cost effective ways to enhance the customer experience at your organization contact: Mike Hennessy IntelliResponse mike.hennessy@intelliresponse.com About IntelliResponse IntelliResponse enhances the multi-channel customer experience for businesses and educational institutions via its Instant Answer Agent, a question-and-answer software platform that allows web site visitors to ask questions in natural language, and get the “One Right Answer”, regardless of the hundreds of ways the question may be asked. This industry leading On Demand software platform is used by both consumers and contact center agents. With more than 200 live, customerfacing implementations answering 50 million+ questions with one right answer, IntelliResponse is the gold standard in first line customer experience management. Some of the world’s most recognized corporate brands and higher education institutions trust their customer experience management needs to IntelliResponse - including ING Direct, TD Canada Trust, Scotiabank, Penn State University, The Ohio State University, University of British Columbia and Harvard University Extension School. Copyright © 2010, IntelliResponse Systems Inc. All rights reserved. The trademarks identified herein are the trademarks or registered trademarks of IntelliResponse Systems Inc. or other third party.