IR Kno wledge Se riesGoing Mobile:Web Self-Ser vice for StudentsLearn how higher education institutions canembrace the new multi-channel eco-system forstudent self-service (via Mobile, Social Media, Web).Visit page 6 for an overview of how one university hasalready accomplished this today:
Going Mobile: 1Web Self-Service for StudentsThis knowledge paper examines and explores Given the numbers, it is of little surprise. Afterthe increasing adoption and prevalent usage all, nine out of every 10 Americans already own aof mobile devices for student interaction with cell phone (more than those that have Internethigher education institutions. connections). On average, these individuals get a (2) new mobile device approximately every 18 months. (3)“Time to Declare the PC Dead and Increasingly these new devices are smartphones orEmbrace the Mobile Platform, (1) ” “app” phones – full service cellular and web deviceswrote Lev S. Gonick, CIO at Case Western Reserve that provide a host of entertainment, business andUniversity, in an article published in Inside Higher Ed organizational tools for consumers. With suchin early January 2010. This has increasingly become a advanced technology now accessible in a convenient,prevalent theme in the main stream media and with go-anywhere form factor, it is little wonder that westudents alike over recent years. The market continues are shifting our online habits away from the tetheredto follow with baited breadth the innovations that desktop toward mobile devices, especially today’sApple has introduced in the market, including tech-savvy students.the iPhone and the newly launched iPad tablet.Not to mention the bevy of new technologies anddevices released by other technology leaders such as Students are increasingly goingMicrosoft, LG, Nokia, Samsung and others. mobile - and they’re bringing theirFor many higher education institutions, delivering inquisitive nature and thirst fora superior level of student service has become a information anytime, anywheretruly “multi-faceted” challenge that includes theWeb, Social Media and Mobile. A typical school has along with them.more than likely invested a tremendous amount oftheir effort, time and budgetary dollars on making Many experts agree that smartphones will be thethe web site their primary communication vehicle primary technology devices used within the next fewwith students. And a school may also have a strategy years, effectively eclipsing laptops as the preferredfor communicating with prospective and current attaché of the upwardly mobile (no pun intended).students via social media channels like Facebook andTwitter. But addressing Mobile access is most likely The past decade’s vast improvements in the speedunchartered territory for many schools. and accessibility of the Internet and wireless telecommunications have contributed to theIncreasingly, students are no longer tethered to a consumer’s desire for instant gratification. Thelandline phone, laptop or desktop computer when ability to access information and purchase productsthey begin their higher education journey and and services is now truly at our fingertips 24 hours,continue as mobile students. seven days a week. As such, today’s consumer canA truly comprehensive strategy must therefore include engage with businesses and organizations literallyefficient management of student interactions via the at any time and, using their mobile device, fromubiquitous mobile device. virtually any place. Higher education institutions must therefore be prepared to meet customers (prospective andThe Role of the Mobile Channel current students) in this “new destination” – a place where student service is not exempt from the desireThe Rise of Mobile Culture for instant gratification.Whether using a cell phone, or one of the growingnumber of “smartphone” devices available, like Whether it is information on enrollment, tuition,BlackBerries, Palm Pre’s, iPhones or the newly financial aid, campus housing, student services orreleased iPad tablet, students are increasingly going IT support, prospective and current students wantmobile – and they are bringing their inquisitive answers, and they want them now. As students movenature and thirst for information anytime, faster in this new and untethered “mobile” world,anywhere along with them. solving service issues quickly and efficiently with them has also become increasingly important.
Going Mobile: 2Web Self-Service for StudentsThe Mobile Channel: Playing a Bigger In the rush to provide an enhanced studentRole, Still Part of a Bigger Picture experience in the mobile environment, it isThis seismic shift to a mobile culture means it important that schools not lose sight of the needis more pressing than ever for organizations to for multi-channel service excellence and consistency.address the question, “What is our mobile customer A school with a comprehensive multi-channelinteraction strategy for our constituent of students service strategy can more easily and seamlesslyand faculty?” With the bigger question being, “How move students to the most cost effective channeldo we deliver service in the mobile channel as an for efficient resolution – allowing them to provideextension of our entire service strategy?” higher quality service to more complex issues whileToday, student interactions with schools can begin also looking after the bottom line by maintaining orin a variety of ways: on a smartphone, web site, reducing overall service delivery costs.through a new social media channel (e.g. Twitter,Facebook, forums, blogs, etc.) or via a phone callto any one of your externally facing departments,including the Registrar’s Office, Financial Aid,Student Services, etc. In every instance, customersatisfaction is put to the test. Figure 1 Mobile’s Explosive Growth Predicted to Continue US Internet Users and Mobile Internet Users (2008 - 2013) 2008 192.8 59.5 2009 199.2 73.7 Internet Users 2010 205.3 89.2 Mobile 210.9 Internet 2011 106.2 Users 2012 216 122.1 221.1 2013 134.3 10 58 106 154 202 250 Unique users in millions (US Subscribers) Source: eMarketer, June 2009
Going Mobile: 3Web Self-Service for StudentsWhy Mobile Student Service? three year plans. Consider that most (if not all) students in North America today will likely replaceStrong Mobile Growth Takes their mobile technology at least once in the nextSchools by Surprise two to three years.In recent years, you would be hard pressed to find Fueled in no small part by the fervor of publicityan organization to disagree with the premise that surrounding the Apple iPhone and now the iPadstudent interactions are becoming increasingly tablet, consumer adoption of mobile browsing andmobile. The recent explosion in smartphone sales, native applications surged faster than most couldenhanced mobile networks and growing demand have anticipated. For many schools, the future is nowfor data plans, all were signs pointing to a mobile- and it has arrived far ahead of schedule.centric future – signs which no organizationcould have missed. What has surprised most Consumers, including students, are already usingorganizations (both public and private), however, their mobile devices to browse the Internet andis today’s student suddenly becoming the mobile- interact with a plethora of sites. Or, at least,centric student “of the future” virtually overnight. they’re trying. Most times, their attempts to find information in a convenient manner are met with frustration – and organizations without a working A school with a comprehensive mobile Internet strategy and solution often pay the price with unsatisfactory service. Today, multi-channel service strategy can organizations face a grim reality check. 66% of more easily and seamlessly move consumers find it difficult to locate or navigate to students to the most cost effective relevant content, and most consumers (80%) wish it was easier to access information from the Internet channel for efficient resolution. on a mobile phone.(4) The good news for organizations, of course, is thatThe credit for this rapid spread can be seen in it is getting easier.the cellular companies’ delivery of new “free”handsets of increasing sophistication, fueled by Figure 2 2009 Data Illustrates Importance of the Mobile Channel to Consumers How Important is a Self-Service Option from a Mobile Phone for 24-Hour Access? Important 18% Unimportant 38% Extremely Important 19% 62% state that self-service from a mobile phone is Somewhat Important 25% Source: Yankee Group Research, Inc., 2009 important
Going Mobile: 4Web Self-Service for StudentsMobile can Deliver a Superior Customer overall calls and emails to the school’s variousService Experience administrations and faculties. It allows schoolUsing new and innovative mobile customer service staff in Enrollment, Student Services, Registrartechnology, higher education institutions can and other administrative departments to focus onallay students’ mobile web-browsing frustrations higher-value queries instead of becoming mired inbeginning today, and greatly enhance the user repetitive phone conversations, or email exchangesexperience going forward. with students.For organizations that are laggards in deploying McKinsey & Company, a global managementa mobile Internet strategy, new mobile web self- consulting firm, estimates the cost range of a typicalservice solutions allow them to not merely play contact center transaction to be between $8 andcatch-up, but to leapfrog to the forefront of mobile $10. This customer service cost could be greatlycustomer service excellence. Figure 3 is an example reduced or contained through mobile customerof how user-friendly and simplistic a deployment self-service since it can reduce the cost of issueof self-service technology can be on the mobile resolution considerably – before it even reachesenvironment. the contact center or any of the administrative departments in a school.Inherent Cost Savings In addition, the convenience of the mobile channelThe cost savings of effective mobile self-service itself has a built-in cost-saving characteristic: mostare inherent, measurable and quickly achievable mobile users are more likely to use self-service inalongside enhanced student experience outcomes. the evening and weekends, times when they are offGiving prospective and current students, and even a regular work or school day – times when schoolfaculty and staff, the ability to resolve common administrative departments are either closed orproblems directly on their mobile handsets reduces minimally staffed. Figure 3 Simplicity Key to Mobile Customer Self-Service Student Answer simply served types a instantly question on next screen Above: The IntelliResponse Mobile Applications (WAP and iPhone) for its Instant Answer Agent is a self-ser vice application that lets customers type their question using natural conversational language. A single, accurate and mobile-friendly answer to the question is ser ved on the ver y next screen.
Going Mobile: 5Web Self-Service for StudentsMobile as a natural Extension of a School’s “Delivering” student care is now more than aMulti-Channel Strategy metaphor, as prospective (and current) studentsSchools R S u b Bstudentd s I with extensive r a n self-service are want attention and resolution to their issuesbetter positioned for growth and retention in wherever they may be physically located. With studentstoday’s constrained economic climate. With student increasingly willing to communicate and interactapplications and enrollments soaring across North on mobile devices, it is counter-productive (not toAmerica due to the negative economic climate and mention frustrating to the student) when customerthe ensuing lack of job prospects, higher education service is not accessible through the same device.institutions have never experienced this level of Now is the time for schools to extend student self-dual intensity in both constraints and growth. They service across multiple channels of communication,are more constrained than ever before with limited from the traditional web to social media channelsbudgets and human resources while also having to and the mobile platform.address record volumes of inquiries and interest inenrollment. Figure 4 New Eco-System for Student Self-Service (Web, Social Media, Mobile) Web Social MobileFacebook, Twitter, Forums/Blogs iPhone, iTouch, iPad, WAP
Going Mobile: 6Web Self-Service for Students Multi-Channel Eco-System for Student Self-Service Live at Innovative University A live example of a school that has implemented this new multi-channel eco-system for student self-ser vice is the University of Saskatchewan. Students can use any of these channels to access the school branded “Ask US!”, the IntelliResponse Instant Answer Agent, to obtain answers to their questions instantly. Below, a student asks the question “how do I apply?” through three different channels set up by the school. The same answer is obtained from the central answer base for appropriate display in each channel. Ask US! is accessible through these University of Saskatchewan properties... iUSask iPhone Application Official Facebook Fanpage Official Web Site
Going Mobile: 7Web Self-Service for StudentsNext Steps: How Can You Inconveniences to avoid in your mobile student self-service delivery:Best Integrate Mobile • earch results that return multiple links/options/ SStudent Self-Service? pages, and beget additional searching, clicking or navigation beyond the initial query1. Deploy channel-specific service solutionsWhile it may seem obvious, not all interaction • avigating through Frequently Asked Questions Nchannels support the delivery of information in a • Too much choice in the number of links“one size fits all” fashion. presented per screenMobile devices, in particular, demand solutions and • ny amount of scrolling beyond just a few flicks of Adelivery of content and information in ways that are a handset’s wheel or toggle button.conducive to the channel itself. Speed and brevitydominate in the mobile world – where organizations Mobile devices themselves are tools of conveniencehave less “real estate” to deal with when deploying so any user experience that fails to honor this istheir customer interaction strategies and tactics. destined to damage the user experience. Or even worse, risk unsuccessful adoption of your mobile2. Make efficiency, accuracy and simplicity the web. Instead, provide intelligent self-service options guiding principles of your mobile student that let the user quickly find the desired information. self-service experienceConsider that even from a desktop computer orlaptop connection, “inconvenience” online is nolonger tolerated by consumers, especially today’stech-savvy higher education student. And it istolerated even less so on a mobile device. Figure 5 The Mobile Customer Experience Should be Device-Agnostic Above: Whether through a BlackBerr y (left) or an iPhone (right), self-ser vice is easily accessible and user friendly across both handsets.
Going Mobile: 8Web Self-Service for Students3. Add intelligent self-service options in the mobile channelIf you haven’t already done so, investigate addingintelligent self-service options such as a virtualassistant to your institution’s mobile platform. Alreadywidely used by organizations to enhance the multi-channel customer experience, intelligent self-servicein the mobile channel takes customer experience to awhole new level of usability and accessibility.A mobile answer agent honors the conveniencecriterion of the mobile environment by making iteasy for users to ask questions and find the rightanswers quickly via the channel of their choosing.4. Deliver a consistent experience for users regardless of their preferred form factorWhether via native applications running on devicessuch as the iPhone, iPad or BlackBerry, or throughWAP-enabled devices, it is important to deliver aconsistent, compatible experience across a range ofmobile devices and standard protocols.5. “Right Channel” with effective escalation and support protocolsMake sure you are channeling students into the rightinformation funnel through intelligent escalation. Forexample, it may make more sense to flag certain self-service inquiries relating to personal safety to CampusSecurity or the Dean of Students office.