Education Industry

How your school can use chatbots

September 24, 2019

A note from Digistorm: this post was originally published in November 2018 and has since been updated to include more relevant information.  

Key points:

  • Chatbots support businesses by providing automated customer help.
  • Schools are using chatbots to help boost enrollment processes by sending responses to prospective parents.
  • There are a variety of ways to utilise a chatbot and it’s important to implement a clear strategy in order to maximise potential.

Whether we realise it or not, artificial intelligence (AI) now plays a major role in our everyday lives. From the rise of voice commands like Siri to creating ‘smart homes’ with Google Home or Alexa, AI is working behind the scenes to save us time and help streamline our daily tasks. 

One of the most common ways we see digital marketing influenced by AI is customer communication. You’ve probably noticed that most websites have automated their website support with chatbots. In this post, we will cover what chatbots are and how they’re being used within the Education industry to support communication.

 

 

What is a chatbot?

A chatbot is software used to replicate a natural conversation between a digital platform and the user. They are used to assist brands with their digital marketing and customer support initiatives. Chatbots (also known as messenger bots) work by analysing and recognising keywords and phrases entered into a support chat to deliver useful content or help articles.

Here’s an example from TechCrunch of their chatbot in action.

 

TechCrunch Chatbot2

Image source: Impact

 

 

Chatbots are programmed to answer FAQs, make bookings, perform routine tasks, or refer you to a real-life support representative. In some cases, chatbots are so sophisticated that they’re able to replace humans altogether. 

According to TechCrunch, the Covid19 pandemic has caused demand for this AI tool to skyrocket, as more and more businesses seek ways to automate their customer communication and increase their volumes without committing to more in-house staff.

 

Chatbots in schools

Chatbots have revolutionised customer support by enabling schools to send automatic responses to prospective parents 24/7. As we touched on earlier, some chatbots provide answers based on the keywords used within a question.

For example, let’s say a parent is looking for information about how to enrol their child at your school and enters the phrase ‘how to enrol’ into your chatbot tool. The chatbot would pick up on the keyword ‘enrol’ and produce a pre-programmed response attached to that word. From here, the chatbot could direct the parent to a specific page on your school’s website where they can learn more about the enrollment process. 

Another option is to enable a Facebook Messenger bot. Suppose you’re set up with Facebook Business Manager. In that case, you can program a messenger bot to send automatic responses to anyone who sends a message to your school’s Facebook Page — this is particularly helpful for when a parent tries to contact you outside of business hours.

 

Implementing a school chatbot strategy

There are two ways in which chatbots can be set up and used. The first is to program the bot with automated responses. This involves manually uploading a list of relevant responses that match certain keywords entered by the user. The second is to have a real-life representative manage your chatbot. This requires a staff member to man the bot and be prepared to answer client queries quickly and efficiently. So, what’s the best strategy? Some organisations use a combination of both, enabling them to accommodate queries at all times of the day.

Before adding a chatbot to your website or using a Facebook Messenger bot on your Page, you’ll need to be clear on how you’re going to manage it. You must execute some careful planning to put a strategy in place, whether using automated or real-life responses. Chatbots that aren't sufficiently manned are ineffective and unprofessional. If website visitors expect to have their queries resolved by a chatbot but are met with an out of office response (or worse yet, no response), this can put consumers off and deter them from visiting your website again.

 

Summary

There’s no question that automation is helping to shape the future of digital communications, and chatbots are leading the way when it comes to personalised AI. Whether you choose to have an automated chatbot, or a real-life rep managing it, they are great for offering instant assistance and directing queries to relevant sources. Provided there is a carefully thought-out implementation strategy in place; chatbots are proving to be a highly convenient, effective and timely tool to communicate with your school website visitors and Facebook followers.

Are you looking for more ways to enhance the user experience on your school’s website? Check out these top tips for effective website navigation.