Engaging Students with Chatbots: A Rising Tide

GSU Pounce Texting

November 10, 2016

“Would a student prefer to talk to a chatbot over a human?” This is a common question that comes up when speaking with higher education leaders today.

For decades, college and university administrators have engaged with students in traditional ways – phone calls, emails, in-person school visits, campus tours, interviews, etc.

Over the years, those methods of communicating with students have generally been successful, but a new method of engaging students is fast becoming the preferred mode of communication with the millennial generation. Enter the age of chatbots.

colleges texting students

A recent study of around 900 people by Survata and Pingup found that over half of millennial users would be interested in engaging with a chatbot to communicate with local businesses. Here are some of the key findings:

  • Nearly 50% of bot users, and 55% of millennials, reported that using a bot left them with a more favorable impression of the business.
  • 35% of respondents, and 52% of millennials, would be interested in communicating with a chatbot to take action on a number of services, like booking a meeting or signing up for a class.
  • 33% of millennial responders said they’d use a chatbot to order food. Can you imagine your students ordering a pizza to their dorm room via a chatbot? A well-fed student is a happy student. 🙂

These findings represent a major shift in the way the millennial generation prefers to interact with businesses and institutions. Bots are easy to use, provide instant service, and lend personalized assistance without having to wait (sometimes days) for a human to respond.

For staff members, bots can dramatically reduce the time allocated to handling the basic, repetitive questions that tend to bog down their daily lives, freeing them up to focus on the more fulfilling aspects of their jobs.

Colleges and universities are beginning to see the benefits of using chatbot technology to personally engage each and every student. We developed the first university chatbot in the United States. Georgia State’s “Pounce,” named after their mascot, interacted with thousands of students last season, assisting them with key enrollment tasks like completing the FAFSA and registering for orientation.

Since Pounce was the first of its kind, we ran a randomized control study to assess its effectiveness for yield and summer melt purposes, and saw amazing results. Besides seeing a significant impact on key enrollment metric, students absolutely loved interacting with Pounce:

  • We saw a 90% student engagement rate, and 80% of students rated Pounce as a 4 or 5 out of 5.
  • One student said “I liked how convenient it was. I didn’t have to look through my emails. I just went to my text.” Another reported “The language doesn’t sound like a machine. It’s chill.”
  • Of the 50,000-plus student messages received, only 0.9% required the attention of Georgia State staff. And for the 99.1% of the questions handled by Pounce, students got a response within 7 seconds.
GSU chatbot testimonials

If you’d like to learn how we can supercharge your student facing communication efforts with a chatbot of your own, click here to request a demo.

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