01 December 2014
Web Chat Software Finds the Answers to Funding
So far in our blog series on universities we have discussed the challenges faced by admissions and accommodations professionals, the busiest time of year for them and how they can manage their workload with the help of web chat software. In this blog we are looking at funding and living costs on campus; issues that might be handled by team members from both departments depending on the nature of the enquiry.
When the Westminster government introduced its framework for increased university fees for England, ministers emphasised that a university degree programme would remain accessible to students who do not have the means to pay up front. Instead, students are only expected to start paying after graduating and reaching a set salary threshold. This system has allowed students to embark upon their studies regardless of their financial situation. On the surface this appears a good idea – no financial hurdles for students while studying, but financial benefits for universities from fees. Unfortunately, it’s not quite so straightforward.
Applying for a student loan can be quite a complex process, especially if students apply for an income-assessed loan
There is also a lot of confusion surrounding tuition and maintenance loans and how they are treated differently. Little surprise then that both admissions and accommodations officers receive a range of funding-related questions. Some are appropriate, such as a returning student asking for an extension to their rent because their next instalment of maintenance loan is overdue. Others might be better directed to the Student Loans Company itself, such as questions surrounding eligibility and pay-out dates.
When universities field the latter questions by phone they will generally instruct the student which website to go to and where they can find the information, but it’s a time-consuming process that can leave the student feeling disoriented. Major UK universities deal with these enquiries using web chat software’s built in auto-navigate function. This feature gives your team members the option to push the student directly to the page they need. This can save a considerable amount of time for both the operator and the student.
Pre-defined replies are prepared answers that can be used for the most common questions
When 80% of funding-related enquiries would be better posed to the Student Loans Company it makes sense to have a copy and paste answer ready. This function is also useful to answer everyday questions about living costs, e.g. How much is laundry? How much is the sports insurance and how do I pay? Pre-defined replies allow these kinds of questions to be answered quickly and consistently, which means your team can spend the rest of their valuable time performing other duties.
Lastly, most quality live chat service providers will include a file transfer function. This is an incredibly useful tool for answering questions about the cost of rent, events and clubs/societies. For example, if a student wants to join the university football team, the chat operator can send them a digital document that includes the pricing for all sports teams as well as instructions on how to pay. This is a much cheaper solution than handing out hard copies and has the added benefit of allowing students to disseminate the document among their friends by e-mail. It only takes a handful of students to share this price list for the number of questions relating to sports club costs to drop. This same system is useful for student’s enquiring about rent for accommodation. Live chat also allows the student to ask follow-up questions if they choose to open the document while still in chat.
For admissions, accommodations and other admin roles the last quarter will have been thoroughly exhausting.
Web chat software makes it easier to perform their jobs and gives them a chance to start winding down for the December break.
Do the above issues sound pertinent to your job role? Our University Coordinator is working with some of UK’s major academic institutions to streamline their enquiry-handling process. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0845 123 5879 for a no-pressure online demonstration of our web chat software.