Build a high-tech, high-touch student service model

Automating basic advisement allows staff to focus attention on retention risks

When seeking support, information, or help completing transactions on campus, students often must navigate through a complex array of offices and staff, resulting in a service bottleneck. While one-on-one consultation with staff is critical when students face difficult decisions, it should not unnecessarily delay students in completing basic processes like obtaining an ID card or registering for a new class, nor should it be the only way for students to obtain information relevant to their academic progress.

An inefficient service model also costs more to improve. When students must go through staff in multiple offices to resolve issues, the only way to improve service quality is to invest in additional staff, most of whom will be too busy with transactions to spend substantial time advising students in need.

To remove this bottleneck while improving service, consider "flipping" your student support model to emphasize automation and self-service.

Increasing advising self-service options for students

Progressive institutions have begun to use web and mobile technologies to lift the burden of basic advisement from support staff, freeing them to spend more time developing and managing those technologies and meeting with students about higher-level concerns ineffectively addressed through self-service tools.

Building the optimal self-service model

What does the future of student support look like, and how much can really be accomplished through technology? You might be surprised how far some universities have come in using their websites, student portals, social media platforms, and mobile applications to inflect student success. To help you benchmark your institution's current investments and set targets for service expansion, we've outlined the most important stages in developing tools to maximize impact on student behavior.

Greater personalization in self-service options increases the impact on students

Three steps to perfecting student-facing support tools

1. Invest in a central service gateway.

This should include a comprehensive list of relevant services, electronic forms to replace paper transactions, and a repository of FAQs to quickly address students' most common problems.

2. Enable quick, one-stop transactions.

A student should be able to start and finish most transactions within an institution’s web portal. To do that, developers need to create customized alerts that include direct action links and guided tutorials for complex transactions (such as completing a lengthy financial aid application).

3. Use a personalized triage tool to interact with and engage students.

Through the application of data analytics, a small number of sophisticated institutions are leveraging mobile platforms to enable real-time communication with students, notifying them of critical resources mapped to their coursework and background, and allowing students to take immediate action through application-based transaction. The more data these students have about a student's risk and behavior, the more tailored these messages can be.

The next step? Evaluate the strength of your student communications strategy

The impact of student success initiatives often depends on clear communication between institutions and their students. However, many higher education leaders readily admit that they fail to effectively motivate students to act through their messaging,

How well does your communication strategy support student success? Download our diagnostic to evaluate your ability to effectively reach students and prompt them to action. Download now.

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