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Higher Education: Is Web Self-Service Right for You


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Located at the forefront of today’s increasingly web-savvy population is the modern student. When students seek information these days, whether
from a company or an educational institution, they begin with the Internet. Today’s students are interacting with, evaluating and comparing schools
often without setting foot on a campus or having a single human conversation.

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Higher Education: Is Web Self-Service Right for You

  1. 1. 1IR K now ledge Se riesIs Web Self-ServiceRight for You?Published by IntelliResponse5 Tell-Tale Signs That Your School – AndYour Students – Are Ready For NextGeneration Web Self-Service “Self-Service” –adjective of, for, or pertaining to something designed to be used or enjoyed without the aid of an attendant. “Next Generation Web Self-Service” –adjective of, for or pertaining to technology designed to allow web visitors to receive ANSWERS to their questions over the desktop, mobile and social web, without requiring any interaction with a representative of an institution or organization.
  2. 2. Is Web Self-Service Right for You? 2Located at the forefront of today’s increasingly • Customer Satisfactionweb-savvy population is the modern student. When • he ability to provide 24 x 7 access Tstudents seek information these days, whether to informationfrom a company or an educational institution,they begin with the Internet. Today’s students are • nhancements to the online experience Einteracting with, evaluating and comparing schools • mproved loyalty toward your institution Ioften without setting foot on a campus or having asingle human conversation. • eduction in operating costs that result R when students are forced to seek answers via calls and emails to your staffTherefore, the experience students have when onyour school’s web site (and other online channels But how do you know when you and yourwhere your institution may have a presence, such school are ready for this next generation of webas social media sites or mobile devices) is often self-service? Where do you begin, in terms ofthe first and perhaps only opportunity to provide diagnosing whether or not it makes sense for youthe satisfaction that will drive students’ key to explore a web self-service strategy foreducation decisions. your institution?Despite this truth, frustration and inefficiency Read on to find out…abounds online. Students, on the whole, arefrustrated with the experiences they encounterwhen visiting school web-sites. This dissatisfaction To help you better understandcreates an increased number of phone calls and whether or not your school andemails to your admissions staff, and creates students would benefit fromcostly one-on-one interactions to answer the most deploying next generation self-rudimentary questions. service, we’ve pulled together our knowledge of industry bestFor many institutions, the “answer” to making theonline experience smoother and more efficient practices, leading research, and ourfor students includes deploying the latest multi- own analysis of online questionschannel self-service tools now available. Often posed to institutions by millions ofdescribed as answer agents, virtual assistants or students across North America.“smart FAQ’s”, this new breed of technology, when From this, we’ve compiled fivedelivered effectively – has significant impact on telltale signs that your schoolcritical factors like: and your students (current and prospective) are poised to benefit from next generation web self-service.
  3. 3. Is Web Self-Service Right for You? 3Telltale Sign #1: thousands of results to search through. Not exactlyThe primary service features on your web an ideal experience, nor does in provide for an easysite are FAQ and help pages and/or a site way for these students to get the “answers” they aresearch tool. looking for.Due to the sheer depth and breadth of information A more streamlined FAQ section, one that has beenthat is posted on a school’s web-site – including heavily edited to reduce the volume of data, may beeverything from admissions requirements to slightly easier to navigate, however, what is gainedscholarship application procedures to campus maps in navigation ease is lost in the comprehensiveness– traditional online answer tools like FAQ pages, and accuracy of available answers, leaving the“help” and “search” technologies have become student unsatisfied despite best efforts.antiquated resources. They are simply no longereffective at giving students the information they Forrester points to self-service technologies asneed in the form of ANSWERS to their questions. a means to provide a better user experience online, but explains that these technologies areIt’s interesting to note that these tools also fall not yet widely used by many of the organizationsshort en masse in virtually every industry, including that could most benefit by their deployment. 2commercial web sites. According to technology Though enhancing the student experience onlineresearch group Forrester, “Help sections, frequently is increasingly becoming a top priority for manyasked questions (FAQs), and site search often fall schools, by and large, most institutions still rely onshort of customers’ expectations.” 1 FAQ, help and site search as the primary delivery tools for their students’ online experience.Take the typical FAQ page as an example, andconsider this dilemma: As a result, the opportunity modern web self- service affords is not only the ability to enhanceEven the most well-written and comprehensive the student experience online, but to also enjoyFAQ sections remain difficult to navigate due to a competitive advantage, by becoming known asthe sheer volume of information that is to be sifted a school that provides this superior self-servicethrough (and this assumes that you have, by some student experience ahead of its counterparts.miracle selected the absolute best list of FAQs forthe majority of your students to begin with). Evenwhen the available mountains of data are drasticallyreduced after a keyword relevancy search, still,students are offered tens, hundreds or even
  4. 4. Is Web Self-Service Right for You? 4Telltale Sign #2: accurate idea of what this percentage might be. IfLow-complexity questions from students your school is like most, however, it’s likely that farare being addressed in higher-cost student more low-complexity questions are sneaking in toservice channels like email and phone. your higher-cost channels than is desirable.If your institution collects metrics on types and If this is indeed a cause for concern, moderncategories of incoming phone calls and email web-self service is an excellent candidate forinquiries, identifying the percentage of “low- resolving the problem. As illustrated in the Studentcomplexity” calls that end up in higher-cost service Inquiry Complexity Continuum in Figure 1, webchannels will be easy. Even if reliable metrics aren’t self-service shines in resolving low-complexityin place, an administrator within the admissions inquiries for students.department, for example, may have a reasonably FIG 1: The Student Inquiry Complexity Continuum Self-Service SWEET SPOT LOW-COMPLEXITY HIGH-COMPLEXITY • No human intervention • High human intervention • Common, repeated questions • Special case inquiries • Questions with one right answer • ensitive/private/safety-related S information Web self-service technology is most effective in handling low-complexity service requests.
  5. 5. Is Web Self-Service Right for You? 5Telltale Sign #3: student inquiries at the first point of contact actsA significant number of student as a “filter,” essentially reducing the volume ofinquiries regularly originate from inquiries to higher-cost student service channelsyour web site. within your institution. How? By providing students with timely, accurate, easy-to-access answers.While examining the inquires that are typicallyhandled in your higher-cost student service In contrast, web-sites that feature traditional webchannels (by admissions staff, for example) discern based customer service tools only (i.e. web FAQ,what percentage of calls and emails originate from help and site search) are ineffective filters. Mostyour web site. school web-sites fall into this description category. The majority of sites feature search and FAQ toolsWhen inquiries that originate from your site are that are highly ineffective at filtering out the lower-routinely entering higher-cost channels, it’s a sure complexity questions and fail to deliver on the cost-sign that your web site is missing an opportunity to reduction opportunities, as this visual illustrates.resolve basic student inquiries at the first pointof contact. Don’t have metrics on where phone inquiries calls into your institution originate? Forrester says, “YouIn addition to the many ways in which your web site can use a benchmark of an average of 10% to 20%can deliver an enhanced student experience, it also of your phone volume coming through yourhas potential to serve as an effective cost-reduction Web site.” 3mechanism. A web site that effectively resolves Fig 2: Web Site As An Ineffective Cost-Reduction “Filter” Inquiries Hit The Site Inquiries Escalate, Costs Rise
  6. 6. Is Web Self-Service Right for You? 6 TABLE 1 Downstream Cost Impact in the Call Center Channel Annual Contact Percentage of Calls Cost Per Call Total Cost of Web- Center Call Volume Originating from Web Originating Calls 100,000 15% $10 $150,000Using a conservative estimate that 15% of yourphone volume is coming directly through your Website, it’s easy to see how even a small percentageof calls that pass through this “filter” createsconsiderable costs downstream:With only 15% of calls originating from the web, inthis example the downstream cost to the customerservice is $150,000.Instituting an effective, next generation webself-service technology like the IntelliResponse IntelliResponse and our patentedAnswer Suite has a track record of reducing Answer Suite technology have becomecall volume by 15-30%, which often equates to synonymous with the concept of nexthundreds of thousands of dollars in annual savings generation, multi-channel web selfservicefrom call deflection alone. - particularly among the 100+ leading Higher Education institutions we are proud to call our customers. As an organization,For a more complete snapshot of the potential we have built a reputation as a highcost savings available through next generation value, dependable vendor that pridesweb self-service, go to itself on 95% customer retention and 97% customer satisfaction rating (2009). We have become the gold standard in first lineThis tool will give you some real-world assumptive experience management through our abilitydata to estimate cost savings potential by using web provide our customers with the power of “One Right Answer” across multipleself-service to reduce the proportion of questions channels that include web, mobile, socialposed to higher-cost channels. media and agent desktops.
  7. 7. Is Web Self-Service Right for You? 7Telltale Sign #4: that fail – almost universally – to meet the needs ofYour school is doing more online today’s multi-channel, self-service oriented, which might includenew channels such as social Telltale Sign #5:media and mobile Your school is doing more online marketing, which might includeMost institutions are increasingly shifting their new channels such as socialmarketing efforts toward the online channel media and mobileeach year. Today’s students’ growing preferenceto explore, interact, and make purchases online, For schools where the student experience iscombined with increasing effectiveness and ubiquity an integral differentiating factor, continuousof web-based tools such as social media, mobile enhancement of the process is acommerce, search engine optimization and email non-debatable issue.will only continue to fuel this trend. In addition,multi-channel interaction is now a given in order A research finding from the commercial sectorto reach this audience, as today’s technology savvy discovered that “service” now trumps price asstudents wholeheartedly embrace mobile and social the number one reason why customers purchaseweb channels to interact with their schools. from one company versus another. 4 When today’s students interact online with institutions, theyIf your marketing efforts are driving more students bring with them the same high level of serviceand staff to your web site, Facebook fanpage, expectations that they demand as online consumers.iPhone application, or Twitter feed, it stands toreason that all of these channels be equipped to For many schools, the economic, administrative,offer an optimal student experience when they and operational realities of serving thousands ofarrive there. students can interrupt the best intention to get everyone from the President to the admissionsThe restaurant that is not equipped to handle a officer aligned to deliver unparalleled studentlarge crowd due to physical space limitations and experiences at every interaction.lack of properly skilled kitchen and service staffultimately suffers by delivering poor customer But this is where web self-service enjoys somewhatexperiences. Likewise, institutions that funnel ubiquitous appeal. Web self-service shines as amore resources to drive customers to their online student experience-enhancing technology, becausedestinations but fail to deliver on the service it is accessible and deployable by virtually anyexperiences there run the risk of wasting their institution – large or spend and damaging theinstitution’s reputation. Schools that are committed, to any reasonable degree, to increasing their focus on student serviceOne of the biggest threats to maintaining this will like the practical accessibility of next generationreputation is the use of student information tools web-self service technologies.
  8. 8. Is Web Self-Service Right for You? 8Enhancing the StudentExperience Online Advantages to Acting NowIn light of the clear preference among today’s Taking time to examine the realities of yourstudents’ to seek resolutions to their questions and institution’s environment by looking for evidenceservice issues online first, an institution’s web-site, of any of the five telltale signs explained heresocial media and mobile channels hold tremendous can reveal the need for action. The advantages ofpotential as areas of focus for enhancing the responding to these signs now come in the formstudent experience. Three major enhancement of operational cost reductions and the deliverystrategies that can result in big increases in student of enhanced student experiences in every onlinesatisfaction include: interaction with your school. The latter, of course, contributes greatly to your student recruitment and1. roviding students with advanced ways to serve P retention efforts. themselves online, without having to interact with any member of the institution until the Schools that act now in response to this opportunity time is right. can also only enjoy competitive advantage, differentiating themselves as one of the few2. ncreasing the number and quality of service I institutions who are meeting their students’ options offered to students. This can include desire for effective next generation self-service prominently indicating phone numbers, not just experiences on the web. for the admissions office but other dedicated numbers such as campus safety hotlines, campus clinic, student government offices, and the like.3. ight-channeling, where you use your variety R of service options to help contain and drive interaction to most appropriate channel, while providing a clear and easy escalation path. For example, it might make more sense to flag certain self-service inquiries relating to personal safety to Campus Security or the Dean of Students office.
  9. 9. Is Web Self-Service Right for You? 9 For More Information For more information on cost effective ways to deploy next generation web self-service at your organization, contact us at, visit, or visit us on Twitter, Facebook, or via our new Blog. About IntelliResponse IntelliResponse enhances the multi-channel customer service capabilities of hundreds of enterprise businesses and educational institutions. The company’s patented question and answer technology delivers “One Right Answer” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across a wide array of assisted and self-service customer interaction channels that include corporate and institutional web sites, mobile devices, customer service desktops, and social media platforms. With more than 200 live customer-facing implementations answering 60 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, Charter Communications, Computer Associates, Penn State University, The Ohio State University and Harvard University Extension School. 1 2 3 5 F orrester Report Selecting Online Customer Service Channels To Satisfy Customers And Reduce Costs, June 25, 2010, by Diane Clarkson 4 Harris Interactive, Customer Experience Report, March 2006.