Why higher education chatbots will take over university mobile apps

higher ed chatbot

December 1, 2016

Quick poll: how many apps do you have on your phone? (I have 86…I just counted!)

Now, how many did you use in the last day or two? (I’ve used just four.)

Very few apps see daily usage

Most people are similar – they use only 3 apps on a daily basis (if they own a smartphone, of course). Of these three, according to a recent study by comScore, here’s the breakdown of time spent on those most frequently used apps:

university mobile app usage

This brings the time spent on the most visited 3 apps to around 80% of total app time. Does this sound familiar to your own experience?

Here’s another staggering statistic: There are over 4.2 million apps available for Android and Apple users, yet 40% of the most used apps are already pre-installed.

Moreover, Business Insider cited a report from tech company Quantcast stating that only one-tenth of 1% of all apps ever reach 50,000 users. And get this…over 60% of all available apps in the App Store have never even been downloaded!

The Challenges with Apps

Why do people generally use very few apps? For one, it’s really hard to get people to download apps.

The most popular apps dominate because they are on the most downloaded chart, and spread fast when people mention to friends that “you have to check out this new app.” There is an app breakthrough barrier that is getting harder to crack, especially when it’s serving a relatively small group of people like a university mobile app. The top three most downloaded apps in the first half of 2016 were Messenger, Snapchat, and Facebook, which are all conversational in nature.

Some other general complaints about apps are that too many unnecessarily connect to third-party sites, the ads are annoying, they’re not compatible with older devices, and often users are barraged with requests for ratings.

App Retention

While it’s difficult to get people to even download an app, it’s even harder to get them to keep using an app. Check out these stats from a recent Localytics post:

university mobile app retention

Retention here is defined as returning to the app at least once within 30 days. The findings were that app retention after 90 days typically is around 25%. So most apps are losing 75% of their users in only a few months.

Taking all of this into account, there must be a better way to get the attention of students…

Chatbots are the new Apps and Websites combined

Chatbots are simple, easy to use, and present zero friction. They exist on the channels that people are most familiar with like Messenger, Twitter, SMS text message, Kik, and expanding onto other messaging applications. Unlike apps, bots don’t take up space, users don’t have to take time to get familiar with a new user interface, and bots will give you an instant reply.

The biggest difference with chatbots compared to apps and websites is that they use language as the main interface. Websites and apps have to be searched and clicked, while bots and people use language, the most natural interface, to communicate and inform.

How may I help you?

 Chatbots can also use entire databases of information to personalize conversations to suit your needs. If you’re a university using a student information system or CRM, all of that data can be used to provide contextualized information to each student, and do it in an engaging, conversational and immediate manner.

 Here’s an example:

higher education chatbot

In this case, the higher education chatbot already knows that the student is from out-of-state, so it responds with the appropriate answer. And, the student never had to spend time searching the web to find out what she needed to know. The bot presented her the proper information within seconds.

Now is the Time for Chatbots

While apps may have historically been the en vogue way to engage on mobile, the data shows that most of us use very few apps on a daily basis, and most apps are hardly touched (if they’re even downloaded at all).

Chatbots are fast becoming more helpful and more used than apps, and while they can’t answer every question and aren’t perfect right now, they soon will dominate their predecessors for their ease of use and personalized user experiences. Millennials, in particular, are leading this momentous shift.

If you’d like to learn more about how your institution could benefit from a customized chatbot, click here to request a demo.

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