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Case Study

Technology drives 3% increase in enrollment

During Fall 2020, ACC increased enrollment by 3% vs 2019 having implemented Gecko chatbot to improve student engagement.

Technology drives 3% increase in enrollment

While US college enrollment has seen the worst decline in a decade, and community colleges experiencing the biggest hit, dropping 9.5%, Arapahoe Community College is thriving.

So how did they do it?

While there are many strategic enrollment decisions in play, it’s hard to look past the contribution of the ACC Chatbot – the only new communication resource implemented during the Covid-19 crisis. Here’s ACC Director of Admissions Kayce O’Brien explaining how Gecko Chatbot helped save time and drive enrollment.

To meet the challenges of COVID-19, ACC sought out opportunities to serve and engage with students in the virtual world.

Prior to COVID-19, Arapahoe Community College had been exploring alternative communication methods for interacting with prospective students and invested time in analyzing call-center services, texting platforms, live chat platforms, and banked-answer chat services.

The crisis created a sense of urgency and students were looking for answers but we couldn’t be there 24/7. Now the Chatbot is an essential part of our team and being available 24/7 customer service doesn’t have to be sacrificed when there is a staffing shortage.
Kayce O'Brien
Director of Admissions, Arapahoe Community College


During the course of the Spring semester of 2020 Arapahoe Community College, like every college across America, had to convert their traditional services and instructional delivery methods to an online approach, to support the safety of students, staff, and faculty.

This presented the challenge: with budgets frozen and a reduction in resources, how could they find a creative solution to fill the gap in customer service support and connect with students?

ACC’s Welcome Center and Admissions Department had a combined student employee workforce of 10 students, providing as much as 160 hours of staffing support each week. Student employees provided crucial front-line customer service support by answering phones, responding to general email inquiries, supporting tours, and face-to-face Welcome Center greeting.

When the pandemic hit, limited Admissions & Welcome staff Center were able to transition to work remotely quickly and efficiently but the student employees were unable to do so – leaving the department short by as much as 160 hours per week.

Decision making

After reaching out to other colleges in their system, Arapahoe Community College had narrowed their options to two primary options:

1. Consider call-center staffing options supported by other departments
2. Consider converting all calls to both the mainline to the college and to the Admissions department to a voicemail queue which would be returned within 24 business hours.

Neither of these options was going to provide the quality customer service the Welcome Center had been well known for providing.


Within a few weeks of converting to fully remote and the world substantially changed, Gecko provided access to a free ResponseBot across the Higher Ed sector to cope with the increased demand the industry was experiencing.

Arapahoe Community College utilized the COVID response platform and customized answers based upon the real-time COVID response of the College. In addition to providing up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 and their response to the pandemic, they also wanted to provide general information to help support students. The Admissions Office coordinated an FAQ search among all student-facing departments on campus and generated 100 answers to common questions in preparation for an April 2 launch of the platform.

Arapahoe Community College first partnered with Gecko to improve the student experience in a time with limited resources. Now, they continue to partner with Gecko to increase student engagement and to meet the demand of the on-demand generation.
Chat switches the customer service experience for students, it makes it more relevant, friendly and feels very 21st-century customer service-based.
Kayce O'Brien
Director of Admissions, Arapahoe Community College