How can universities use chatbots to enhance their students’ experiences

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Around the world, artificial intelligence technologies like chatbots or virtual assistants have been revolutionising different sectors and functions. The field of higher education is by no means immune to the rising acceptance of AI-driven communication, support and learning tools.

In the article we examine strategies for how universities are using chatbots to enhance the experience of their students and bring benefits like:

  • 24/7 & 365 support. With a chatbot, you provide support for your students at any time of the day. This means they the get the information they need when they need it.
  • Provide a faster response time. Students want to carry out tasks quickly, without lengthy delays or wait times. By analysing the tasks that a chatbot can automate, you can save students time and improve their support experience.
  • Reduce costs and save support teams time. By continually adding new content and functionality to your chatbot you can handle more and more student enquiries. In turn, this reduces the amount of calls to your student support staff, freeing them up for the more complex tasks

6 strategies for using chatbots at your university

1. Help prospective students make informed choices

The use cases for chatbots at universities can start before a student has joined the university. Chatbots provide a great way to engage students who are likely to be interested in applying to the university. AI-powered chatbots can highlight courses and prospectuses as well as allowing students to register for open days.

2. Support your new students

Chatbots can help facilitate enrolment. You can use bots to respond to the most frequent inquiries from incoming students. They can offer details on the university’s campus, amenities, scholarship processes or financial aid. Chatbots can also help with the regular issues related to student registration and login access to all the online platforms students require.

3. Utilise an omni-channel strategy

Your Chatbot needs to be on the channels where your students interact with the university. This might be Microsoft Teams, your student portals/intranets or even your social channels like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. By having an omni-channel approach to your chatbots you ensure help and support is available at the right place and time.

4. Improve your student support offering

University support teams receive high volumes of repeated and relatively simple questions. AI powered chatbots can help you respond to common student questions and transfer more complex queries to your staff via live-agent handovers. By regular monitoring and evaluating your chatbot, you can ensure it improves with time by adding more content and helping increase the accuracy of your Natural Language Processing models.

5. Give every student their own personal assistant

Chatbots are at their most powerful when they are personalised to the individual using them and when they can fulfil tasks without the need for human intervention. We believe your ultimate aim should be to give every student a personalised assistant that can help carry out tasks and provide information relevant to them. Popular use cases include:

  • Personalised support – to help students with orientation, course scheduling, essay submissions, exam registrations, payments due etc.
  • Mentorship/support – a portal to access counsellors to discuss student welfare e.g. mental health & wellbeing or help to manage your budget etc.
  • IT support – a helpdesk for staff and students
  • Event registration – a simple booking experience

6. Gather data and insights

Chatbots also give universities a unique way of collecting data about their students. By analysing the intents of students, you can understand what topics are of most interest to them at given times. Furthermore, by reviewing messages that a chatbot doesn’t currently have content for, you can quickly add conversational flows about this content to cater for it. If required, you can use this insight to create more detailed content offerings through your other channels such as websites and intranets.

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