Retention matters – how chatbots provide 365 / 24×7 support
Chatbots are rapidly transforming higher education – and now they can become a key driver in improving retention rates at your university.
According to the EDUCAUSE 2020 Top 10 IT Issues list, student retention and completion ranked sixth. Meaning that developing the capabilities and systems to incorporate artificial intelligence into student services to provide personalized, timely support will be crucial in 2020.
The best thing about chatbots is that they are available 24/7 x 365.
Students’ questions often arise outside of business hours and one of the best things about chatbots is that they are available around the clock for your students to seek out answers at times when staff members are unavailable.
Chatbots don’t sleep
There are many reasons a student may become disengaged and drop out of university, including:
- Financial concerns
- Academic difficulties
- Conflicting priorities, e.g. school/life balance
Universities often have the solutions to help students with these challenges, but have trouble communicating those resources to students, many of whom may be too embarrassed to reach out, or may not even know how to ask for help.
Send in the bots
By turning to chatbots for help, universities are attempting to reach students and address their concerns faster by connecting with students right where they are – and that’s usually online. Today’s chatbots can communicate with students on a variety of platforms including the university website, Facebook Messenger, SMS and WhatsApp. Chatbots take care of simple questions quickly and can step in to provide links to resources. But if the bot can’t help, it can indicate your teams’ available hours and tell the student that your advising team will be in touch. This leaves more time for advisors to develop deeper connections with students.
Time spent with academic advisors is a key driver of retention.
In one study of first-generation college students, researchers found that each additional meeting with an advisor increased the odds of retention by 13%. By implementing a chatbot to handle routine questions, advisors can focus on more complex discussions with students, including degree-planning.
Retention matters for many reasons. Graduating university could mean more earning potential, better career opportunities and enriched personal development for a student. Beyond the benefits for the student, improving retention rates at your university can improve both ranking and reputation.