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Case Study

Leveraging live chat to support their students

Bunker Hill Community College is finding new ways of supporting their student community. They've leveraged live chat and have built a solid retention strategy in the process...

Leveraging live chat to support their students

We speak to a lot of customers who are using the Gecko platform as part of their recruitment strategy. We don’t speak to as many customers who are using Gecko as part of their recruitment and retention strategies. But Bunker Hill Community College, based in Boston, Massachusetts, are doing both.

We caught up with Corinto Cevallos, who is a Business Analyst/Programmer at Bunker Hill, to chat about how they’re leading the charge with Gecko’s live chat module across their admissions and advisory departments. The uptake has been huge, with over 39,000 unique conversations so far, which has enabled them to support and engage with students where they are.

Corinto Cevallos
Gecko
“Live chat has led the charge with our new way of engaging with students."
Gecko
Corinto Cevallos
Business Analyst/Programmer, Bunker Hill Community College

Bunker Hill Community College: key challenges

1) Lack of student engagement

One of the reasons Bunker Hill Community College wanted to work with Gecko was because more traditional engagement tools weren’t working for them. It’s an issue that spans across the whole sector: students and emails.

Bunker Hill knew that email communication just wasn’t something their student population was engaging with, at least not in the way they needed them to.

Corinto explains: “Students just don’t manage their emails in the same way as other generations. I use one personal email address, but students will jump from email to email. We’ll often find that they’re applying to the college using multiple different email addresses. That, of course, creates complexities for us when we’re trying to manage their records.”

2) Keeping connected during the pandemic

Bunker Hill originally signed on with Gecko to use our texting module, but they were also intrigued by the other communication tools in the Gecko ecosystem. When the pandemic led to the lockdown of their campus they knew they needed to do something quickly to enable both their existing students and prospective students to reach them. In a time of huge uncertainty, it was critical that those communication channels stayed open.

Corinto adds: “We had to go full force and switch gears into our virtual strategy. We turned on all of our virtual services and increased the volume of texts we were sending to students to keep that connectivity between staff and students. That’s when we utilized the Gecko live chat module.”

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The solution

They created live chat windows on various parts of the Bunker Hill Community College website so that prospects and current students could continue to engage with staff. Now, they had an automated system with workflows behind it that triggered as soon as a student engaged with the live chat. The student sees pop-up messages, automated texts, and even a queue feature that tells them how many students are ahead of them.

In addition, the advisory live chat service is connected to Bunker Hill’s student management system, which sits behind a log-in page. This means that anyone logged in has already been authenticated as a student, and so the advisors are able to have deeper discussions with students.

“Live chat has led the charge with our new way of engaging with students. In light of ongoing challenges of the pandemic, we’re going to proceed as normal with our live chat strategy to support our students, who don’t necessarily want to physically come into the school.”

Bunker Hill Community College

What was the impact?

Outcome 1: being able to support students remotely

Live chat has meant that the advisory team at Bunker Hill are able to have these important conversations with their student body, even when the campus has been closed. Whether it’s one quick question or a long, complex conversation, that service has remained available. When you think of all the uncertainties during the pandemic, this service is critical.

“There’s been a lot of usage of live chat at Bunker Hill. We ran some numbers about nine months into the pandemic and we found that there were about 39,000 unique interactions, all unique conversations, that were happening. This was when the school had been completely shut down.”

Outcome 2: more cross-functional collaboration

The Gecko engagement modules, live chat and texting, have now both been adopted and have received a positive reception internally at Bunker Hill. Corinto does the training and staff are always enthused about what they see and the potential there is.

One of the big parts that Corinto focuses on is the collaboration piece; how they can use the Gecko platform to connect team members across different departments to create a more cohesive experience.

“The example I always use is our Veterans Center. A lot of our students come from various different walks of life. Prospects with an active duty background may have to contact multiple departments because of the additional steps they have to take in order to pay for their courses or things of that nature.

“In-person, they may be sent to different offices but, in the Gecko ecosystem, we can do it seamlessly.”

Outcome 3: an enhanced student experience

The real impact of that cross-functional collaboration, of course, is on the student experience. Instead of a disjointed experience, students are quickly connected with everyone they need, ensuring that they get all the answers they require.

“When students approach our frontline staff with questions, they help direct them to where they need to be. If they have questions about financial aid, for example, they connect them to the area of the college that helps with student services such as financial aid.

“That’s a very common bounce students experience in any institution. But with live chat, it’s much more smooth.”

Bunker Hill Community College

Bunker Hill’s favourite Gecko features...

Ease of use

“Because of the ease of use of Gecko, we’ve been able to set it and forget it. We have everything set up, and it’s just running, which is great. Maintenance has been pretty minimal!

“We have a new CRM coming into the landscape soon and so my next venture is to start connecting Gecko to our Salesforce platform. This will also give us an opportunity to create and integrate more forms – we have a lot of Forms we want to build to improve our business process with the new system.”

Tags

“Tags and chat forms within Gecko Chat have been really helpful. We use short forms at the beginning of most of our live chats. If the chat is connected to a department with multiple student services, the student can choose an associated service as a topic from the dropdown menu.

“If the student wanted to chat with the Division of Professional Studies about Accounting, for example, they can select “Accounting” from the dropdown of the form. The chat is then directed to team members assigned to the Accounting Program. The chat conversation is also tagged with “Accounting, which can later be used for stats and reports.”

Workflows

“Workflows are also helpful. I build workflows in the backend of Gecko to tag or redirect the students, based on that selection in the form. When I look at our data, I can see how many conversations are being had by their selection from the dropdown menu in that form. Workflows are also used to prompt messages before and after a chat.”

Corinto Cevallos
Gecko
"Because of the ease of use of Gecko, we’ve been able to set it and forget it. We have everything set up, and it’s just running, which is great. Maintenance has been pretty minimal!"
Gecko
Corinto Cevallos
Business Analyst/Programmer at Bunker Hill