October 19, 2022

How To Manage a Successful Education Contact Center

How To Manage a Successful Education Contact Center

Educational institutions deal with thousands of students, which presents daunting communication challenges. They must establish contact centers to handle the issues students face while getting their education. 

These contact centers face the same difficulties as other contact centers, plus their own unique issues. Effectively managing an education contact center means identifying these issues and creating methods for addressing them. 

Types of Contact Centers for Educational Institutions

There are various needs for contact centers in the education industry. Some of these include:

  • Admissions – Communication is at the heart of recruiting and serving new students.
  • Emergency Services – A sizable educational institution will always have a number of health and facility emergencies that require quickly contacting the authorities.
  • Financial Aid – Financial aid departments deal with tangles of federal, state, and institutional paperwork. Students also require multiple contacts with the department to get their applications correct.
  • Fundraising – Most educational institutions rely on fundraising efforts aimed at their alumni. These efforts require significant outbound calling campaigns.
  • Bookstore/Resources – Students need frequent help locating required course materials.
  • General Support – Life at educational institutions can be complicated and confusing. Students need a support line to answer basic questions.

Challenges With Call Blocking and Labeling

Consumers in general have lost all patience with robocalls and will not answer unknown numbers, much less flagged calls. Younger students have grown up rejecting and blocking calls, and older generations have altered their call behavior to do the same.

Sadly, efforts to protect consumers from these illegal calls have been flawed, with many legitimate organizations having their calls flagged and blocked. Patients even mistakenly block calls from their healthcare providers, which can adversely affect their health. Educational institutions are suffering from these issues as well. And since colleges and universities frequently have time-sensitive deadlines, missed calls can harm students as well as their educational institution. 

Managing Personal Data

Students must trust their educational institutions with much of their personal data, including full names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and payment methods. This information is a prime target for scammers everywhere, so safeguarding student personal data is essential.

Scammers recognize that educational institutions are a prime hunting ground for their victims, particularly since students rarely hesitate to share their personal information with their school departments. Students are vulnerable, and you must work hard to protect them.

Time-Sensitive Information

All schools have deadlines for enrollment, financial aid submissions, and even book purchases. Information must be relayed to students promptly to meet these deadlines. If calls or notifications are mislabeled or blocked, the chances are higher that students will miss these deadlines, which can lead to some negative consequences.

A missed admission deadline often means sitting out an entire semester before beginning studies. A missed financial aid deadline can deprive students of the means to continue their education for months, if not years. If you do not manage student information correctly, your institution may lose students and suffer reputational damage. 

Abiding by Compliance Regulations

As with any industry, compliance is crucial in education contact centers. Of course, you must be mindful of the TCPA and DNC, but you must also follow industry and regional compliance standards. These standards include: 

FERPA – Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. This federal legislation protects the privacy of student records and applies to all institutions that receive funds from an “applicable program” of the U.S. Department of Education. 

CCPA (California) – California Consumer Protection Act. Due to this law, California consumers have more control over the personal information that businesses collect about them.

Scams That Target Students

Consumers tend to have more trust in educational institutions than they do in other organizations. Scammers attempt to take advantage of this trust and target educational centers, which by necessity manage sensitive student data. Since educational institutions are deemed trustworthy, they have become the targets of scammers. Scammers can often get students or alumni to share detailed identity and financial information by posing as an educational institution. Some scams that target students and alumni include the following.

Student Loan Scams

Millions of U.S. students have student loans, and many struggle to repay them. Scammers understand this dilemma and often target this vulnerable population. For instance, one scam robocall offered students a chance to consolidate loans, an easy way to steal someone’s identity. 

Financial Aid Scams

Scammers target potential students by texting, calling, or messaging them with scholarship or financial aid offers. These offers will come with requests for money to “hold” the aid package or for credit card information. Legitimate financial aid offers do not ask for money. 

Diploma Mill Scams

These institutions offer post-secondary degrees or certifications for tuition fees but require little coursework. Students are essentially pressured into buying a worthless degree, often incurring high debt and gaining no career value. 

Tips for Higher Education Contact Centers

Students need strong support to ensure their success at your educational institution. Most have busy schedules and don’t have the time to wait in long queues. To meet their needs, you should set up your education contact center to work efficiently to resolve students’ concerns. These tips can help achieve that goal.

Provide Omnichannel Solutions

Allow students to contact you in multiple ways, including through phone calls, SMS, email, and direct messaging. 

Focus on Customer Service

Educational institutions rely on word of mouth more than most other organizations. You need to always focus on customer service and take steps to make administrative tasks easy for students. 

Strive for First Call Resolution

Neither your employees nor your students have time to waste. Design your call centers to provide first call resolution. Consider the need for follow-up contact a missed opportunity for customer satisfaction. 

Employ the Right Software

You can streamline your student service by employing the right software, such as IVRs, AI, skill-based routing, preview dialers, etc. Taking advantage of these advances will save everyone time and reduce contact errors. 

Ensure Availability

While 24/7 live agents might not be feasible, ensure your students always have a support resource, even if this consists of chatbots or AI support. Students often have odd and demanding schedules. Convenient contact is essential for their success. 

Collect Feedback

The only way to learn what students need is to ask them. Collect feedback by offering brief surveys at the end of phone calls, through email, or by SMS links. Then thoughtfully consider how you can incorporate helpful changes.

Managing Your Reputation

Managing an education contact center is a huge responsibility and requires high sensitivity and professionalism. Caller ID Reputation can help protect your reputation while taking care of student needs.