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Going Mobile: Web Self-Service for Students

Going Mobile: Web Self-Service for Students

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Going Mobile:
Web Self-Service for Students
Learn how higher education institutions can
embrace the new multi-channel eco-system for
student self-service (via Mobile, Social Media, Web).
IR Knowledge Seri es
Visit page 6 for an overview of how one university has
already accomplished this today:
Going Mobile:
Web Self-Service for Students
This knowledge paper examines and explores
the increasing adoption and prevalent usage
of mobile devices for student interaction with
higher education institutions.
“Time to Declare the PC Dead and
Embrace the Mobile Platform,”(1)
wrote Lev S. Gonick, CIO at Case Western Reserve
University, in an article published in Inside Higher Ed
in early January 2010. This has increasingly become a
prevalent theme in the main stream media and with
students alike over recent years. The market continues
to follow with baited breadth the innovations that
Apple has introduced in the market, including
the iPhone and the newly launched iPad tablet.
Not to mention the bevy of new technologies and
devices released by other technology leaders such as
Microsoft, LG, Nokia, Samsung and others.
For many higher education institutions, delivering
a superior level of student service has become a
truly “multi-faceted” challenge that includes the
Web, Social Media and Mobile. A typical school has
more than likely invested a tremendous amount of
their effort, time and budgetary dollars on making
the web site their primary communication vehicle
with students. And a school may also have a strategy
for communicating with prospective and current
students via social media channels like Facebook and
Twitter. But addressing Mobile access is most likely
unchartered territory for many schools.
Increasingly, students are no longer tethered to a
landline phone, laptop or desktop computer when
they begin their higher education journey and
continue as mobile students.
A truly comprehensive strategy must therefore include
efficient management of student interactions via the
ubiquitous mobile device.
The Role of the Mobile Channel
The Rise of Mobile Culture
Whether using a cell phone, or one of the growing
number of “smartphone” devices available, like
BlackBerries, Palm Pre’s, iPhones or the newly
released iPad tablet, students are increasingly going
mobile – and they are bringing their inquisitive
nature and thirst for information anytime,
anywhere along with them.
Given the numbers, it is of little surprise. After
all, nine out of every 10 Americans already own a
cell phone (more than those that have Internet
connections).(2) On average, these individuals get a
new mobile device approximately every 18 months.(3)
Increasingly these new devices are smartphones or
“app” phones – full service cellular and web devices
that provide a host of entertainment, business and
organizational tools for consumers. With such
advanced technology now accessible in a convenient,
go-anywhere form factor, it is little wonder that we
are shifting our online habits away from the tethered
desktop toward mobile devices, especially today’s
tech-savvy students.
Many experts agree that smartphones will be the
primary technology devices used within the next few
years, effectively eclipsing laptops as the preferred
attaché of the upwardly mobile (no pun intended).
The past decade’s vast improvements in the speed
and accessibility of the Internet and wireless
telecommunications have contributed to the
consumer’s desire for instant gratification. The
ability to access information and purchase products
and services is now truly at our fingertips 24 hours,
seven days a week. As such, today’s consumer can
engage with businesses and organizations literally
at any time and, using their mobile device, from
virtually any place.
Higher education institutions must therefore be
prepared to meet customers (prospective and
current students) in this “new destination” – a place
where student service is not exempt from the desire
for instant gratification.
Whether it is information
Going Mobile:
Web Self-Service for Students
Learn how higher education institutions can
embrace the new multi-channel eco-system for
student self-service (via Mobile, Social Media, Web).
IR Knowledge Seri es
Visit page 6 for an overview of how one university has
already accomplished this today:
Going Mobile:
Web Self-Service for Students
This knowledge paper examines and explores
the increasing adoption and prevalent usage
of mobile devices for student interaction with
higher education institutions.
“Time to Declare the PC Dead and
Embrace the Mobile Platform,”(1)
wrote Lev S. Gonick, CIO at Case Western Reserve
University, in an article published in Inside Higher Ed
in early January 2010. This has increasingly become a
prevalent theme in the main stream media and with
students alike over recent years. The market continues
to follow with baited breadth the innovations that
Apple has introduced in the market, including
the iPhone and the newly launched iPad tablet.
Not to mention the bevy of new technologies and
devices released by other technology leaders such as
Microsoft, LG, Nokia, Samsung and others.
For many higher education institutions, delivering
a superior level of student service has become a
truly “multi-faceted” challenge that includes the
Web, Social Media and Mobile. A typical school has
more than likely invested a tremendous amount of
their effort, time and budgetary dollars on making
the web site their primary communication vehicle
with students. And a school may also have a strategy
for communicating with prospective and current
students via social media channels like Facebook and
Twitter. But addressing Mobile access is most likely
unchartered territory for many schools.
Increasingly, students are no longer tethered to a
landline phone, laptop or desktop computer when
they begin their higher education journey and
continue as mobile students.
A truly comprehensive strategy must therefore include
efficient management of student interactions via the
ubiquitous mobile device.
The Role of the Mobile Channel
The Rise of Mobile Culture
Whether using a cell phone, or one of the growing
number of “smartphone” devices available, like
BlackBerries, Palm Pre’s, iPhones or the newly
released iPad tablet, students are increasingly going
mobile – and they are bringing their inquisitive
nature and thirst for information anytime,
anywhere along with them.
Given the numbers, it is of little surprise. After
all, nine out of every 10 Americans already own a
cell phone (more than those that have Internet
connections).(2) On average, these individuals get a
new mobile device approximately every 18 months.(3)
Increasingly these new devices are smartphones or
“app” phones – full service cellular and web devices
that provide a host of entertainment, business and
organizational tools for consumers. With such
advanced technology now accessible in a convenient,
go-anywhere form factor, it is little wonder that we
are shifting our online habits away from the tethered
desktop toward mobile devices, especially today’s
tech-savvy students.
Many experts agree that smartphones will be the
primary technology devices used within the next few
years, effectively eclipsing laptops as the preferred
attaché of the upwardly mobile (no pun intended).
The past decade’s vast improvements in the speed
and accessibility of the Internet and wireless
telecommunications have contributed to the
consumer’s desire for instant gratification. The
ability to access information and purchase products
and services is now truly at our fingertips 24 hours,
seven days a week. As such, today’s consumer can
engage with businesses and organizations literally
at any time and, using their mobile device, from
virtually any place.
Higher education institutions must therefore be
prepared to meet customers (prospective and
current students) in this “new destination” – a place
where student service is not exempt from the desire
for instant gratification.
Whether it is information

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IR Kno W ledge Se RIeS

Going Mobile: Web Self-Ser vice for Students
Learn how higher education institutions can embrace the new multi-channel eco-system for student self-service (via Mobile, Social Media, Web).

Visit page 6 for an overview of how one university has already accomplished this today:

Going Mobile: Web Self-Service for Students

1

This knowledge paper examines and explores the increasing adoption and prevalent usage of mobile devices for student interaction with higher education institutions.

“Time to Declare the PC Dead and Embrace the Mobile Platform, (1) ”

Given the numbers, it is of little surprise. After all, nine out of every 10 Americans already own a cell phone (more than those that have Internet (2) connections). On average, these individuals get a (3) new mobile device approximately every 18 months. Increasingly these new devices are smartphones or “app” phones – full service cellular and web devices that provide a host of entertainment, business and organizational tools for consumers. With such advanced technology now accessible in a convenient, go-anywhere form factor, it is little wonder that we are shifting our online habits away from the tethered desktop toward mobile devices, especially today’s tech-savvy students.

wrote Lev S. Gonick, CIO at Case Western Reserve University, in an article published in Inside Higher Ed in early January 2010. This has increasingly become a prevalent theme in the main stream media and with students alike over recent years. The market continues to follow with baited breadth the innovations that Apple has introduced in the market, including the iPhone and the newly launched iPad tablet. Not to mention the bevy of new technologies and devices released by other technology leaders such as Microsoft, LG, Nokia, Samsung and others. For many higher education institutions, delivering a superior level of student service has become a truly “multi-faceted” challenge that includes the Web, Social Media and Mobile. A typical school has more than likely invested a tremendous amount of their effort, time and budgetary dollars on making the web site their primary communication vehicle with students. And a school may also have a strategy for communicating with prospective and current students via social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. But addressing Mobile access is most likely unchartered territory for many schools. Increasingly, students are no longer tethered to a landline phone, laptop or desktop computer when they begin their higher education journey and continue as mobile students. A truly comprehensive strategy must therefore include efficient management of student interactions via the ubiquitous mobile device.

Students are increasingly going mobile - and they’re bringing their inquisitive nature and thirst for information anytime, anywhere along with them.
Many experts agree that smartphones will be the primary technology devices used within the next few years, effectively eclipsing laptops as the preferred attaché of the upwardly mobile (no pun intended). The past decade’s vast improvements in the speed and accessibility of the Internet and wireless telecommunications have contributed to the consumer’s desire for instant gratification. The ability to access information and purchase products and services is now truly at our fingertips 24 hours, seven days a week. As such, today’s consumer can engage with businesses and organizations literally at any time and, using their mobile device, from virtually any place. Higher education institutions must therefore be prepared to meet customers (prospective and current students) in this “new destination” – a place where student service is not exempt from the desire for instant gratification. Whether it is information on enrollment, tuition, financial aid, campus housing, student services or IT support, prospective and current students want answers, and they want them now. As students move faster in this new and untethered “mobile” world, solving service issues quickly and efficiently with them has also become increasingly important.

The Role of the Mobile Channel
The Rise of Mobile Culture Whether using a cell phone, or one of the growing number of “smartphone” devices available, like BlackBerries, Palm Pre’s, iPhones or the newly released iPad tablet, students are increasingly going mobile – and they are bringing their inquisitive nature and thirst for information anytime, anywhere along with them.

Going Mobile: Web Self-Service for Students

2

The Mobile Channel: Playing a Bigger Role, Still Part of a Bigger Picture This seismic shift to a mobile culture means it is more pressing than ever for organizations to address the question, “What is our mobile customer interaction strategy for our constituent of students and faculty?” With the bigger question being, “How do we deliver service in the mobile channel as an extension of our entire service strategy?” Today, student interactions with schools can begin in a variety of ways: on a smartphone, web site, through a new social media channel (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, forums, blogs, etc.) or via a phone call to any one of your externally facing departments, including the Registrar’s Office, Financial Aid, Student Services, etc. In every instance, customer satisfaction is put to the test.

In the rush to provide an enhanced student experience in the mobile environment, it is important that schools not lose sight of the need for multi-channel service excellence and consistency. A school with a comprehensive multi-channel service strategy can more easily and seamlessly move students to the most cost effective channel for efficient resolution – allowing them to provide higher quality service to more complex issues while also looking after the bottom line by maintaining or reducing overall service delivery costs.

Figure 1

Mobile’s Explosive Growth Predicted to Continue
US Internet Users and Mobile Internet Users (2008 - 2013)

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 10 58

59.5 73.7 89.2 106.2 122.1 134.3 106 154

192.8 199.2 205.3 210.9 216 221.1 202 250

Internet Users Mobile Internet Users

Unique users in millions (US Subscribers)
Source: eMarketer, June 2009

Going Mobile: Web Self-Service for Students

3

Why Mobile Student Service?
Strong Mobile Growth Takes Schools by Surprise In recent years, you would be hard pressed to find an organization to disagree with the premise that student interactions are becoming increasingly mobile. The recent explosion in smartphone sales, enhanced mobile networks and growing demand for data plans, all were signs pointing to a mobilecentric future – signs which no organization could have missed. What has surprised most organizations (both public and private), however, is today’s student suddenly becoming the mobilecentric student “of the future” virtually overnight.

three year plans. Consider that most (if not all) students in North America today will likely replace their mobile technology at least once in the next two to three years. Fueled in no small part by the fervor of publicity surrounding the Apple iPhone and now the iPad tablet, consumer adoption of mobile browsing and native applications surged faster than most could have anticipated. For many schools, the future is now and it has arrived far ahead of schedule. Consumers, including students, are already using their mobile devices to browse the Internet and interact with a plethora of sites. Or, at least, they’re trying. Most times, their attempts to find information in a convenient manner are met with frustration – and organizations without a working mobile Internet strategy and solution often pay the price with unsatisfactory service. Today, organizations face a grim reality check. 66% of consumers find it difficult to locate or navigate to relevant content, and most consumers (80%) wish it was easier to access information from the Internet on a mobile phone.(4) The good news for organizations, of course, is that it is getting easier.

A school with a comprehensive multi-channel service strategy can more easily and seamlessly move students to the most cost effective channel for efficient resolution.
The credit for this rapid spread can be seen in the cellular companies’ delivery of new “free” handsets of increasing sophistication, fueled by

Figure 2

2009 Data Illustrates Importance of the Mobile Channel to Consumers
How Important is a Self-Service option from a Mobile Phone for 24-Hour Access? Important 18% Unimportant 38% extremely Important 19%

62% state that self-service from a mobile phone is important

Somewhat Important 25%

Source: Yankee Group Research, Inc., 2009

Going Mobile: Web Self-Service for Students

4

Mobile can Deliver a Superior Customer Service Experience Using new and innovative mobile customer service technology, higher education institutions can allay students’ mobile web-browsing frustrations beginning today, and greatly enhance the user experience going forward. For organizations that are laggards in deploying a mobile Internet strategy, new mobile web selfservice solutions allow them to not merely play catch-up, but to leapfrog to the forefront of mobile customer service excellence. Figure 3 is an example of how user-friendly and simplistic a deployment of self-service technology can be on the mobile environment. Inherent Cost Savings The cost savings of effective mobile self-service are inherent, measurable and quickly achievable alongside enhanced student experience outcomes. Giving prospective and current students, and even faculty and staff, the ability to resolve common problems directly on their mobile handsets reduces

overall calls and emails to the school’s various administrations and faculties. It allows school staff in Enrollment, Student Services, Registrar and other administrative departments to focus on higher-value queries instead of becoming mired in repetitive phone conversations, or email exchanges with students. McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, estimates the cost range of a typical contact center transaction to be between $8 and $10. This customer service cost could be greatly reduced or contained through mobile customer self-service since it can reduce the cost of issue resolution considerably – before it even reaches the contact center or any of the administrative departments in a school. In addition, the convenience of the mobile channel itself has a built-in cost-saving characteristic: most mobile users are more likely to use self-service in the evening and weekends, times when they are off a regular work or school day – times when school administrative departments are either closed or minimally staffed.

Figure 3

Simplicity Key to Mobile Customer Self-Service

Student simply types a question

Answer served instantly on next screen

Above: The IntelliResponse Mobile Applications (WAP and iPhone) for its Instant Answer Agent is a self-ser vice application that lets customers type their question using natural conversational language. A single, accurate and mobile-friendly answer to the question is ser ved on the ver y next screen.

Going Mobile: Web Self-Service for Students

5

Mobile as a natural Extension of a School’s Multi-Channel Strategy Schools R S u b Bstudentd s I with extensive r a n self-service are better positioned for growth and retention in today’s constrained economic climate. With student applications and enrollments soaring across North America due to the negative economic climate and the ensuing lack of job prospects, higher education institutions have never experienced this level of dual intensity in both constraints and growth. They are more constrained than ever before with limited budgets and human resources while also having to address record volumes of inquiries and interest in enrollment.

“Delivering” student care is now more than a metaphor, as prospective (and current) students want attention and resolution to their issues wherever they may be physically located. With students increasingly willing to communicate and interact on mobile devices, it is counter-productive (not to mention frustrating to the student) when customer service is not accessible through the same device. Now is the time for schools to extend student selfservice across multiple channels of communication, from the traditional web to social media channels and the mobile platform.

Figure 4

New Eco-System for Student Self-Service (Web, Social Media, Mobile)

Web

Social
Facebook, Twitter, Forums/Blogs

Mobile
iPhone, iTouch, iPad, WAP

Going Mobile: Web Self-Service for Students

6

Multi-Channel Eco-System for Student Self-Service Live at Innovative University

A live example of a school that has implemented this new multi-channel eco-system for student self-ser vice is the University of Saskatchewan. Students can use any of these channels to access the school branded “Ask US!”, the IntelliResponse Instant Answer Agent, to obtain answers to their questions instantly. Below, a student asks the question “how do I apply?” through three different channels set up by the school. The same answer is obtained from the central answer base for appropriate display in each channel.

Ask US! is accessible through these University of Saskatchewan properties...

iUSask iPhone Application

official Facebook Fanpage

official Web Site

Going Mobile: Web Self-Service for Students

7

next Steps: How Can You Best Integrate Mobile Student Self-Service?
1. Deploy channel-specific service solutions While it may seem obvious, not all interaction channels support the delivery of information in a “one size fits all” fashion. Mobile devices, in particular, demand solutions and delivery of content and information in ways that are conducive to the channel itself. Speed and brevity dominate in the mobile world – where organizations have less “real estate” to deal with when deploying their customer interaction strategies and tactics. 2. Make efficiency, accuracy and simplicity the guiding principles of your mobile student self-service experience Consider that even from a desktop computer or laptop connection, “inconvenience” online is no longer tolerated by consumers, especially today’s tech-savvy higher education student. And it is tolerated even less so on a mobile device.

Inconveniences to avoid in your mobile student self-service delivery: • Search results that return multiple links/options/ pages, and beget additional searching, clicking or navigation beyond the initial query • Navigating through Frequently Asked Questions • Too much choice in the number of links presented per screen • Any amount of scrolling beyond just a few flicks of a handset’s wheel or toggle button. Mobile devices themselves are tools of convenience so any user experience that fails to honor this is destined to damage the user experience. Or even worse, risk unsuccessful adoption of your mobile web. Instead, provide intelligent self-service options that let the user quickly find the desired information.

Figure 5

The Mobile Customer Experience Should be Device-Agnostic

Above: Whether through a BlackBerr y (left) or an iPhone (right), self-ser vice is easily accessible and user friendly across both handsets.

Going Mobile: Web Self-Service for Students

8

3. Add intelligent self-service options in the mobile channel If you haven’t already done so, investigate adding intelligent self-service options such as a virtual assistant to your institution’s mobile platform. Already widely used by organizations to enhance the multichannel customer experience, intelligent self-service in the mobile channel takes customer experience to a whole new level of usability and accessibility. A mobile answer agent honors the convenience criterion of the mobile environment by making it easy for users to ask questions and find the right answers quickly via the channel of their choosing. 4. Deliver a consistent experience for users regardless of their preferred form factor Whether via native applications running on devices such as the iPhone, iPad or BlackBerry, or through WAP-enabled devices, it is important to deliver a consistent, compatible experience across a range of mobile devices and standard protocols. 5. “Right Channel” with effective escalation and support protocols Make sure you are channeling students into the right information funnel through intelligent escalation. For example, it may make more sense to flag certain selfservice inquiries relating to personal safety to Campus Security or the Dean of Students office.

Going Mobile: Web Self-Service for Students

9

For More Information For more information on cost effective ways to enhance the customer experience at your organization contact: Mike Hennessy IntelliResponse mike.hennessy@intelliresponse.com About IntelliResponse IntelliResponse enhances the multi-channel customer experience for businesses and educational institutions via its Instant Answer Agent, a question-and-answer software platform that allows web site visitors and service agents to ask questions in natural language, and get the “One Right Answer”, regardless of the hundreds of ways the question may be asked. This industry leading On Demand software platform is used by both consumers and contact center agents. With more than 200 live, customer facing implementations answering 50 million+ questions with one right answer, IntelliResponse is the gold standard in first line customer experience management. Some of the world’s most recognized corporate brands and higher education institutions trust their customer experience management needs to IntelliResponse - including ING Direct, TD Canada Trust, Scotiabank, Penn State University, The Ohio State University, University of British Columbia and Harvard University Extension School. “The Year Ahead in IT”, January 7, 2010, Insider Higher Ed “AT&T Wants More Web-Enabled Devices”, October 17, 2009, New York Times (3) http://www.gsmworld.com/documents/health/research/ GSMA_200610_MobileLifecycles_Final_English.pdf (4) Azuki Systems Inc.
(1) (2)

Copyright © 2010, IntelliResponse Systems Inc. All rights reserved. The trademarks identified herein are the trademarks or registered trademarks of IntelliResponse Systems Inc. or other third party.

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