In higher education, connecting with students is not simply a means to an end. Instead, every interaction is an opportunity to immerse and engage learners in their educational journey. This doesn’t just help them procure more value from their coursework; it also empowers your university or institution to leverage a superior student experience .
Here’s how connecting with students on their preferred channels can put learners first and differentiate your higher education institution.
The Student/University Relationship
Generation Z makes up the majority of students currently in or about to enrol in tertiary education. Unlike the previous generations, this population grew up with mobile devices and social media. They value personalisation and self-expression, and they like to make well-informed choices.
Unfortunately, many higher education institutions are unable to communicate with students on their preferred platforms; the process of discovering a university, applying, enroling, attending classes and receiving support has traditionally been a physical interactive journey.
Institutions need to make their presence known digitally, on students’ preferred platforms. They also need to be able to communicate and track interactions with their online native students.
Reaching Today’s Great Minds
Today’s students are tech-savvy and creative — and they expect their learning experience to keep up. They want to control their experiences with self-service, digital touchpoints and all their favourite channels and devices.
For example, 43% of students want to use their platform of choice for communication, while 31% indicated a preference for speaking to the same person every time. These demands reach beyond basic communication technology and indicate that a more personalised, student-centric approach is necessary.
Consider these additional statistics regarding Gen Z student preferences:
- Social media: 66% of Australian domestic students utilise social media to research universities. 49% use these channels to learn about the application process, while 26% use them to pose questions to institutional staff.
- Email: Among international students in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) universities, 91% chose email as their preferred channel of communication in 2020. In 2022, that number dropped to 86%.
- WhatsApp: In 2020, 58% of international students in ANZ indicated that they preferred to use WhatsApp to communicate with their university. That number increased to 64% in 2022.
- Phone call: 46% of international students in ANZ said they preferred phone calls in 2020. In 2022, the number decreased by 6%.
Furthermore, among international students:
- 76% consider quick communication to be important.
- 34% want a response within 24 hours.
- 57% expect acknowledgement of their inquiry.
- 35% need to be able to communicate outside school hours.
To summarise, it’s clear that the modern student experience must be timely, flexible and personalised when it comes to interacting with their higher education provider. Institutions should connect across multiple channels, including voice, email, web chat, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and more. The key is to integrate these channels into a single touchpoint — a united solution that creates consistent, valuable experiences regardless of how a student chooses to interact.
Empowering Students in New Ways
Person-to-person communication isn’t the only way for students to connect with your institution, nor is it necessarily the most effective in every case.
Students also expect self-service solutions — digitised chats and online channels designed to help simplify their engagement with you. Self-services can include pre-enrolment support, enrolment process, course and study support such as IT. These services can easily be integrated into your contact centre and student administration operations through the adoption of technologies such as:
- Automated chats.
- Intelligent virtual agents.
- Interactive voice responses.
- Digitised knowledge bases.
Through self-service, your university or institution reduces the need for live agent support and frees up staff to handle more complex interactions. Meanwhile, students are empowered to find answers on their own time and through their favourite channel, giving them the flexibility to define their learning experiences.
The result is an experience that puts students first by adapting to their needs, even if those needs change over the course of their degree. For example, an individual who prefers self-service early in their education may find they respond better to person-to-person interactions — and with integrated, digitised channels, your university can deliver a personalised experience in both cases.
Differentiate Your Student Experience
Superior student experience is a valuable way to differentiate your university or institution, and the path is paved with digitised communication and self-service channels.
To deliver experiences that attract and retain students, you need solutions that put learners first; that often means giving them the power to choose when and how they interact with you. While integrating these channels may seem complex at first, it’s a valuable undertaking — one that benefits your staff, students and the institution overall.
At GSN, we know the value of education. That’s why we’re here to help you choose the communication solutions that put students first. Contact us today to learn how we create the digitised experiences your students are looking for.