Delivering a memorable student experience starts with building meaningful connections.
However, connecting with students can sometimes feel challenging when they aren’t communicating on the channels you offer.
While it may seem like students aren’t interested in a conversation, in most instances, it boils down to the tools you’re using. For instance, offering a single channel or making students shuffle through a myriad of websites to submit feedback.
Not so engaging.
To better understand and connect with students, schools need to empower conversation through students’ channel preferences.
In this blog, we’re taking a look at the top student preferred channels to consider across campus. Because selecting the right channels is the key to opening up communication and fostering thoughtful connections.
The Top Channels To Consider
Student preferences have evolved over the last decade. Where select, single channels may have reigned king a few years ago, today it’s all about incorporating a wide variety of channels in line with preferences. This includes social, traditional, and web-based channels.
But it doesn’t stop there.
As with any experience, consistency is key. This means, time to respond, verbiage, and branding should be consistent across every channel you utilize (both on and off-campus). Think of it as a cohesive brand experience rather than the adoption of multiple channels.
Keeping that top of mind, let’s look at the channels to consider for your school, and why they’re so integral.
A traditional, but highly effective channel, email portals are a student necessity (SalesForce reported, 91% of consumers use email every single day). Providing students with their syllabus, class updates, and just general campus knowledge, it’s convenient for students and accessible to your staff.
Using email, you can set standards for communicating and asking for feedback. For example, you can include a footer on every email with a link that enables students to provide feedback on their experience.
A key channel to engage students while they’re on campus. Kiosks assist in prompting students with surveys, gathering insight in real-time, and allowing students to request support on-campus.
Easy to implement and requiring little to no upkeep, they’re an effective tool to deploy in key areas of your campus. Further, kiosks can be the gateway to driving the conversation on more than one channel. As an example, after a student fills out their survey, you can request contact details for a seamless follow-up on the channel of their choice.
Key Tip: When using a kiosk, make sure you place them in strategic areas across campus – the more high traffic the better. In addition, always make sure it’s visible and on-brand, so the student feels confident using it.
Social channels have been on the rise since the mid-2000s, however, today they’re not just a trend but an integral part of any communication strategy.
When selecting your social channels, we suggest gravitating towards more established ones like Facebook or WhatsApp. They’re reliable and most often will integrate with key tools to gather insight.
Facebook Messenger has emerged as one of the most powerful communication tools for higher education institutions. In fact, today, those aged between 18 and 24 years hold 14.7% of Facebook Messenger usage in the States. Further, 27.3% of users of Facebook Messenger in the US are aged between 25 to 34.
Accessible and convenient for students, Facebook Messenger can also sync with a Facebook Business Profile for greater context and can assist you in sending automated messages.
Another traditional channel that is still heavily influential today. With the capability to reach students without WiFi or data, text messaging allows higher education institutions to send brief messages in real-time.
Eliminating the barriers such as; not having a social media account or using an android phone, text messaging is universal.
Keep in mind with text messaging there’s a 160-character limit. Go over that and your message could show up as multiple messages that can feel overwhelming to the student. Whether you’re responding to a request or sending a survey, ensure your message is short, sweet and to the point.
Lastly, webchat is a powerful option to have on your website or app, to prompt conversations with current students and potential students.
For instance, let’s say you have an app. Offering a web-chat pop-up you can encourage students to provide feedback after a lecture. In addition, for prospective students on your website, a webchat pop-up can encourage communication about open houses and course information.
How Loop Can Help High Education Institutions Manage Channels
Choosing the right channels to engage students, is key to the successful adoption of any customer experience initiative. If a student isn’t using the channels you’ve selected or if they find the experience difficult to navigate, it’s less likely that they’ll communicate with you or provide feedback.
The key to engagement is to make it as seamless as possible. Remove the barrier, improve response rates.
Thankfully with the Loop Experience Platform engagement is made easy. Rather than feeling like you have to stick to one channel, Loop allows you to pick from a wide range of student preferred channels. Offering channels of engagement like SMS, email, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, you empower students to choose their desired method of communication.
Further, managing the influx of incoming messages is streamlined for staff. With Loop, all messages, regardless of channel, are filtered into a single inbox. Consolidating messages ensures you’re able to see every message that comes in and respond fast, while also taking the hassle out of toggling through multiple windows and devices.
Lastly, with Loop, all communication is broken down into digestible data. Student sentiment, the average time to respond, trending topics, and more, so you can better understand what your students want and when. Share your insights with other staff members for complete visibility or export key data for board members. Regardless, when using Loop, understanding students becomes simplified.
Despite what channels you currently have or are looking to adopt, a foundational understanding of your student journey is of the utmost importance. Where can a student find information about your school? What key locations on campus are most visited? What areas of your experience do you want to improve? and so on. With a clear picture of the student journey, adopting channels becomes less of a guessing game and more of a strategic initiative to connect with students