No one likes to wait. Ever. In 2012, Kit Eaton published a fantastic article for Fast Company titled “How One Second Could Cost Amazon $1.6 Billion in Sales.” The highlights? Americans won’t wait in line for more than 15 minutes unless they have to, and they won’t go back to an establishment that kept them waiting. If you can say ‘Mississippi’ four times before a web page loads, website visitors have likely given up and left the site. (Remember: Those stats are from 2012. Flash forward to 2016 and that one-second lag feels even riskier.) How long do students wait to move to the next step in your current financial aid process? How many do you lose along the way?
An Emotional Investment: For Students and Staff
While a financial aid office isn’t an e-commerce site like Amazon, you most certainly have customers—and they’re motivated buyers. The emotional investment of applying for financial aid can’t be overstated. Your students are buying into more than financial aid… they’re invested in the idea that education can potentially change their life—and the trajectory of their family. But they’ve also heard horror stories about missed deadlines, lost eligibility, and scholarship scams. Although students are widely excited about the next step in their academic lives, almost half of high school seniors’ mindsets are dominated by negative emotions like stress or anxiety. Students may be entering your financial aid process with negative weight on their shoulders.
Deal with the Underlying Problem: Student Confusion
High incoming call volume is a key indicator of a student base that feels unheard and lost. Our resident DFA experts agree that students are often confused about what they are getting, what is being asked of them and financial aid in general. And when students feel they aren’t informed, they’re going to call. If a student or parent calls in several times and doesn’t feel satisfied with the response it can be a huge turn off–if they get conflicting information on calls it can cause the school to lose credibility.
Minimize + Maximize = Better Student Experience
If students’ feel the onus is on them to initiate communication they’re going to sour on the process. But if you empower your students with tools that help them understand—and take action—they’ll drive the process along on their own. They don’t want to sit in a queue on the phone or in-person unless they absolutely have to. They want to get things done.
Minimize Incoming Inquiries
If student confusion is driving your office’s call volume up, it’s time to simplify your process, automate it, and make it mobile. Students shouldn’t have to re-enter information that already exists in financial aid systems, and they shouldn’t have to call your office to figure out where they are in the process. Don’t even get us started on the time-wasting process of printing out forms, faxing them in, and the rounds of document imaging.
CampusLogic can help you minimize incoming financial aid inquiries by 65% through:
- Online task management – Students have personalized online checklists that update in real-time showing where they are in verification, professional judgment, and SAP appeal processes.
- Easy-Capture and Auto-Population of Data – Key information from a student’s FAFSA is auto-populated, reducing errors and allowing for personalized verification questions based on a student’s profile.
- Secure document upload from any device – Students can upload files using their phone’s native interface.
- Automated reminders and notifications – Automated, time-triggered text and email reminders take the burden of follow-up off financial aid staff.
- E-signature – Government-grade encryption and security mean both parents and students can sign virtually, worry-free.
Maximize Your Responses
Now that you’ve minimized the number of calls your financial aid office receives, you should be able to hone in on the most important conversations, right? Not necessarily. According to a Pew Research study, the majority of Americans (of all ages) use messaging and the internet more frequently than phone calls. In fact, a 2014 Gallup poll shows that text messages are the dominant form of communication among Millennials.
So how can your financial aid office connect with even more students and capitalize on the messaging trend? Try adding Pure Chat to your website’s suite of tools. Live chat allows your office to provide instant answers, all without disrupting the customer’s day by requiring them to trek to your office or call in. Pure Chat can be added to your website in less than three minutes and is easy for your office to implement with features like:
- Site Integration – Live chat can be added to key pages and is mobile-friendly.
- Transcript History – Every conversation your team has with a student is saved, helping you ensure compliance.
- Customizable Chat Box – Design your chat box to grab students’ attention and match your college’s brand.
- SSL Security – Rest assured that your conversations with students are secure.
- Canned Responses – Make sure your team is always on the same page by pre-populating answers to students’ most common questions.
- Proactive Chat Triggers – Reach more students by automating your chat box to pop up on key web pages.
- Work as a Team – Add your whole office to the system, so multiple team members can chat with website visitors.
It’s Time #FinAid Offices Do Things Differently
Doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting different results is often referred to as the definition of insanity. If your current process is confusing, redundant, old fashioned and impersonal, your phone lines will continue to light up with angry, frustrated students and parents. Your staff deal with this gamut of emotions day-in, day-out—and they want to help every student—but they’re swamped by the call volume itself. It’s time to make their lives—and students’ lives—easier by minimizing incoming inquiries and maximizing every response.
About Pure Chat: Pure Chat is a live chat software that helps entrepreneurs and small teams engage website visitors from anywhere. Conversations over live chat allow small businesses to capture more leads, increase conversion, and improve customer experience. When potential customers have a question, they want an answer now. Making a phone call is disruptive. Email is slow. Live chat is fast and more personal. Give them the opportunity to chat live with you and your team with Pure Chat!
About CampusLogic: CampusLogic transforms the way colleges and universities deliver financial aid with the first and only student self-service platform. Modern, mobile, and paper-free, CampusLogic’s cloud-based software simplifies financial aid management, so more students can complete financial aid and get into the classroom. With nearly 40 institutions and 300K+ active students, our customers optimize efficiencies, increase enrollment, and improve the student experience. Recently, CampusLogic won Invest Southwest’s Venture Madness, the Arizona Commerce Authority’s Arizona Innovation Challenge, and was recognized as the 2015 Ed Tech Innovator of the Year and 50 Most Promising Education Tech Solution Providers by CIO Review.