When a visitor comes to your college or university website, they’re usually looking for a specific piece of information - an application, a form for financial aid, contact info for their counselor, registration for a campus visit - and you want to grab some information from them too, especially if they’re a prospective student. Your website may have the information visitors need, but it’s not always easy to find and the RFI form you have for lead capture is long.
Chatbots are a great way to guide visitors to the answers they need as well as grab the information about them that you need.
Unfortunately, not all chatbots are created equal. Here are some common types of chatbots to take into consideration when deciding what’s right for your college website.
This one is pretty self explanatory and is probably what you think of when you hear the word “chatbot.” Each department or office has a list of frequently asked questions that staff members answer daily, multiple times a day, and could probably give the answer to in their sleep. An FAQ bot has these questions and answers preprogrammed and can spit out what the user is looking for. This interaction is a fantastic way to reduce those constant calls and emails you experience every day.
FAQ bots certainly have limitations, though. Each of your audiences - prospective students, current students, parents, alumni, etc. - will all get the same generalized experience. Also, the user has to know the question they want to ask, along with how to ask it. Many times, especially with prospective students, they don’t know what they don’t know...ya know? All of those processes and steps that need to be taken to actually get things accomplished can’t be done through the bot. So if your site visitors don’t get the answer they need, you’ll probably end up getting a phone call or email anyway.
Live chat tools allow opportunities for staff members to speak directly to the user while they’re live on your website. This is a great option because it gives the user a personal experience in real time, and there are definitely scenarios and issues that require an actual person to handle. The visitor receives the answer they need right away, and your staff can explain next steps to take or forms they’ll need later on based on information the visitor gives them.
The live chat model is perfect for Monday - Friday and 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM when you have the staff available - but dedicating someone all day isn’t always realistic. The schedules of prospective and current students don’t always align to your office hours. International students and those in different time zones will need to be kept in mind, too. The time of your staff is already at a premium and you don’t want them to spend it answering the same questions over and over and over and….
Transactional bots act on behalf of a human to complete simple tasks. A visitor can fill out and submit forms, book a meeting with a counselor, or reset a password all within the bot. The information collected can also be used later for lead generation and other marketing or communication needs.
These bots are great, but not everyone is keen on giving you their information when you haven’t helped them with what they’re looking for in the first place. Bots like these, which are rare among colleges and universities, require integrations with systems across campus as well as a lot of careful planning and scripting. All of this calls for the right experts, and can be complex and time-consuming for your team.
The higher education landscape is filled with complex steps that students need to take, such as applying for financial aid or enrolling after being accepted. Support bots are similar to transactional bots in that they too act on behalf of a human, and the bots collect the relevant information about the visitor. Once the bot knows what stage in the lifecycle the visitor is in, they’re able to walk the user through these multi-step processes. This saves your department staff a ton of time.
While these bots provide next-level service to your site visitors, they require a lot of expertise to build and implement.
Now, wouldn’t it be great if there was a solution that did all of these?
Enter the higher education virtual assistant, Harmony.
Not only can Harmony answer FAQs across Admissions, Financial Aid, and Student Services, but it also integrates seamlessly with your existing systems and engages with visitors until their desired task is complete.
Harmony collects visitor information in an engaging and conversational way (without the lengthy forms!), and can be used to book a meeting with the right counselor. Plus, Harmony even allows for live chat capabilities, where your staff sets their own availability to give the best possible experience for your site visitors.
At Mongoose, you get a team of higher education experts that will build and script the bot for you, tailor it to the correct audiences, assist with the integrations that you use on campus, and even provide regular conversation metrics to make sure the bot is performing at its best.
Find out how Harmony can transform your website today.