The human spark behind Behavioral Intelligence

Kelly Hughes
Kelly Hughes

November 5, 2021

In the final book of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling writes, “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.”

It’s so true. Thoughtful and deliberate communication has a profound impact on the people around us. That’s because it’s not just what we say — it’s also how we say it that makes all the difference.

Years of behavioral science research show that the ways you communicate with people really matters. Today, forward-thinking colleges and businesses are embracing a Behavioral Intelligence approach that combines emerging technology with uniquely human elements. Technology makes it possible to scale conversations with students and employees and provide instant, accurate information via popular channels like text messaging. It’s the human elements that make those conversations meaningful to the people they reach, however. 

The human side of Behavioral Intelligence

In her landmark report “How You Say It Matters,” higher education policy analyst Alejandra Acosta explains that effective communication should be a top strategic priority for institutional leaders, given its influence on student success, retention, and equity.

It’s not enough to have good intentions, she notes, you have to put in the work to build truly meaningful relationships. That’s why two of the three key components of Behavioral Intelligence are centered around uniquely human traits: Empathy and contextual understanding

In higher education, empathy can help a school be more sensitive to the challenging circumstances students often find themselves in. For example, applying to colleges can be complicated and confusing, especially for students who don’t have a robust support network. Empathetic conversations and personalized guidance from an institution can make the difference between successfully navigating the transition to college and slipping through the cracks.

Contextual relevance builds upon this empathetic approach, and it’s the key to building a community of lifelong learners who feel more connected to their peers, as well as their school or company — even when they aren’t physically there. 

When students or employees receive messages that consider their unique needs and circumstances at crucial times in their journey, it helps them feel a deep sense of belonging

As Acosta puts it, “Making [people] feel like they are not the only ones struggling, encouraging them to get help, and emphasizing that they have the capacity to improve their…performance will minimize harm and increase the likelihood that they take action.”

A human-centric approach to Behavioral Intelligence considers the person behind every interaction — which creates deeper connections that enable schools and organizations to better understand and respond to people’s needs. 

Creating personal conversations that drive results

Mainstay’s partners find that when they tap into the human elements of Behavioral Intelligence, it opens the door to better engagement and positive outcomes. This personal approach enables them to develop more trusting relationships by delivering relevant messages in the right format and at the right time.

Take Georgia State University’s behaviorally intelligent chatbot, Pounce, for example. Pounce supports students by sending timely reminders and customized text messages about enrollment tasks, quick survey questions, and instant answers to their many questions around the clock. The university has demonstrated continuous and measurable progress in boosting engagement, as well as student retention since they launched Pounce — and they continue to expand their use of Behavioral Intelligence to engage students in new, innovative ways

Kansas State University Salina Aerospace and Technology Campus (formerly Kansas State University Polytechnic) also realized the transformative power of human-centric Behavioral Intelligence. Since partnering with Mainstay in 2019 to launch Willie, their behaviorally intelligent chatbot, the institution has seen a dramatic increase in student engagement across several key metrics — including housing form completions and orientation registrations. Completing fundamental tasks like these have an outsized impact on a student’s ability to persist and succeed throughout their higher education journey. 

Building conversational expertise 

Your team may not have the time or resources to forge deep one-on-one connections with each and every person you serve — and that’s okay! It takes the right combination of technology and a human touch to successfully deliver empathetic, contextually relevant communications at scale. 

Mainstay’s Managed Services team partners with colleges and businesses to maximize their engagement efforts by leveraging their experience managing millions of conversations every week on behalf of our partners. Understanding what motivates people to take action is at the core of these communications. The team specializes in using empathy and contextual relevance to deliver on your unique objectives. This results in meaningful conversations that increase the impact of every message your chatbot sends. 

We follow this up by constantly reviewing the messages your students or employees send to the bot, as well as the chatbot’s automated responses. This ensures that the bot is always responding as effectively as possible. By flagging any questions that a chatbot might be struggling to answer, the team is able to update your bot’s knowledge base to provide the best possible responses in the future. This is just one of the ways Mainstay’s conversational experts bolster our partners’ engagement strategies. 

Learn more about Behavioral Intelligence     

 Download our white paper, “All about Behavioral Intelligence,” to explore how you can harness the human elements of Behavioral Intelligence to drive engagement and positive outcomes at scale.

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