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Gecko Talks Recap: 5 things you should be doing in your student call campaigns

Key takeaways from our Gecko Talks webinar, which spotlighted the great work California University of Pennsylvania is doing with student call campaigns…

How can you make the most out of your call campaigns? In our latest Gecko Talks webinar, we shared the story of how California University of Pennsylvania is doing an amazing job using call campaigns to drive authentic, impactful engagement in admitted students.

Leveraging the Gecko call center module as part of a multi-channel communication strategy, Cal U has moved from a manual, pen and paper process to an efficient and effective operation. They’ve scaled back the number of student telecounselors they need from 20 to seven, empowered their team to thrive in their roles, and created a sense of belonging in prospective students and their families.

We were joined on the webinar by Toni Hartley, Director of Communications and Education Pathways, and Daija Swain-Williams, a student telecounselor at Cal U. Having both of these perspectives was really insightful. You can watch the webinar in full here but if you’re short on time, we’ve handily rounded up some of the key takeaways below.

Here are 5 things you should do in your student call campaigns…

Toni Hartley
Gecko
Students and families tell us: it’s the way that we made them feel. They felt that people cared. They didn’t just hear the words. They felt it too.
Gecko
Toni Hartley
Director of Communications and Education Pathways, California University of Pennsylvania

1) Focus on how you make students feel

When we talk about smart technology solutions we often focus on practical outcomes. Faster communications. Less manual process. Fewer hours spent on low-value tasks. All that good stuff. However, it’s also important to think about how great technology can make prospects feel. For Cal U, it’s enabled them to help prospects feel like they belong.

And that’s not easy, right? Making students feel seen by communicating in a way that builds trust is tricky. However, Cal U’s peer-led call campaigns have been able to do this successfully because they have that focus on human connections at their heart.

Toni explains, “It’s about building relationships. I’ve talked to families and I’ve talked to students and they tell us: it’s the way that we made them feel. They establish that sense of belonging. They felt that people cared. They didn’t just hear the words. They felt it too. The response we get from them is: Cal U really care because they’re willing to help me.”

2) Meet students where they are

How many calls from unrecognised numbers do you pick up when you’re at work during the day? Not that many, we’re guessing. And the same goes for prospective students. If your school is only calling prospects between the hours of 9 and 5 then chances are you won’t get as many people picking up as you would, say, during the evenings.

This is something that Cal U has also noted. Luckily for them, the Gecko call center module enables their teams to work both in-house and remotely. This flexibility means they’re no longer having to cram all of their calls in before 5pm. Instead, the student telecounselors can work from home and do remote call shifts into the evening.

This is helpful for the student telecounselors and for the prospects they’re calling. Toni explains, “We always had the challenge that the office is only open until 5 pm. If we wanted our telecounselors to do later calls, we only had them until 5 o’clock and we were always relying on 2-5 pm to really hit calls hard. With Gecko, we can do remote calls.”

3) Track the success of campaigns in real-time

How do you know that your call campaigns are making an impact? If you’re using a spreadsheet and typing up notes afterwards it can be tricky to have quick visibility of the data. And when you don’t have data it’s harder to make decisions around strategy.

Cal U keep a close eye on the campaigns they have running and review them on a weekly basis to ensure students aren’t slipping through the cracks. Toni explains more. “When a student telecounselor is calling to check attendance [at an upcoming event at Cal U] there’s a yes, no, and maybe response in the script. I can then export that in Gecko and review it.”

Afterwards, they can check whether students attended and, if they didn’t, what the next steps should be. They may decide that the admissions counselors should follow up for this segment of students, for example. Overall, having clear visibility of the call outcomes on the dashboard within Gecko means that Cal U can react and respond more effectively.

4) Enable authentic conversations

Who do you have on your call center team at your institution? If you’re not employing current students at your school then you may be missing an opportunity to build more authentic relationships with prospective students. Student telecounselor at Cal U, Daija Swain-Williams, shared that the conversations tend to switch when the person on the call finds out that she’s not just a caller, but a current student at the school.

“When they hear I’m a student here they always say, OK, I have a semi-personal question. And as soon I as hear that I know exactly where it’s going. And they ask – are you black? When I say yes they’re like, OK, now I have a million questions I want to ask you. ‘What is your school like? What’s around you? What’s diversity like? Do you struggle with anything?’ They’re basically trying to find all the bad parts they’d be scared about.”

Having a member of your team who can talk to these prospects, peer to peer, and share their own personal experiences as a student at your school is one hundred per cent more powerful than having an admissions staff member trying to do the same thing. Authenticity is powerful.

5) Optimize efficiency

There are a number of ways that smart technology has enabled Cal U’s call campaigns to perform more efficiently and effectively. The call scripts keep student telecounselors on track and ensure they feel supported in every call they make. The flexibility of Gecko means they can work remotely outside of core office hours and connect with more students.

The multi-channel approach means that those calls are supplemented with emails and text messaging and Cal U can cut through the noise and be more impactful. As we said in the webinar, a peer-to-peer conversation simply can’t be replicated in a 2D format, but they’re most effective when they’re used in tandem with other communication channels.

However, one of the biggest changes in the before and after story at Cal U is the number of student telecounselors that they have on the team versus what they have now. Before Gecko, Cal U hired 20 telecounselors in total. Now, using Gecko, they employ only seven student telecounselors. In terms of efficiency, that’s really impressive. It’s also some food for thought on what the impact can be when you use technology strategically!

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