I read a paper recently that listed a number of reasons why schools and universities are increasingly relying on their own websites to interact with students and deliver services, such as admissions, enrollment and registration, and other functions.
Those reasons (and I’ll get to them in a minute) make very good sense. But, overall, automation designed to answer students’ questions, helps schools keep staff lean, increases their productivity and boosts service levels to current and prospective students – even as enrollment grows and budgets shrink.
My thoughts: As smart as it seems to employ this kind of technology, it seems even smarter for universities and schools to follow-up with cloud-based monitoring tools to make sure those applications are running efficiently.
OK, now for the rationale for web self-services:
The # 1 reason is that “tech savvy” students can’t tolerate inefficiency. If they can’t find a resource or an answer to their questions on a school’s site, they’ll call or email someone on staff, which incurs extra costs and resources for the school. Worse, a prospective student may give up and go to another school’s site.
#2 – A poorly designed site with little or no self-service capacity means school staff winds up dealing with the same issues, or answering the same questions constantly – taking up their valuable time. They could be doing some more high-value work.
#3 – The costs of labor-heavy administration means, well, high costs. At Temple University in Philadelphia, the 27th largest university in the U.S., (with 35,000 students), they figured out how much it costs to field all students’ questions each year: 4,000 staff hours per year…the equivalent of three full-time staff.
#4 – Technology such as instant answer agents saves schools money. For example, an interaction with a student via the phone costs $25, while an application doing the same costs $1 per instance.
#5 – Schools can measure the ROI of using technology, as it expands the bottom line. One school mentioned in the paper canceled plans to hire an additional staff of 25 after implementing such technology, saving a lot of money.
As both businesses and schools rely more and more on internet or cloud-based applications to expand efficiencies and savings, it’s also more critical that they keep a close eye on how those tools are working, for example, via website transaction monitoring. Monitoring those solutions is the answer and can provide valuable information on how they perform – allowing enterprises to avoid disaster scenarios, and, if necessary, fix small problems before they become bigger ones.