It may not be the hot new thing, but the phone call is still king of student engagement activities. Proactive phone calls generate a genuine dialogue with your prospective students in a way that other communication mediums can’t engender. To build meaningful relationships with your prospective students that make your institution stand out against the competition, make sure the phone is a staple in your communications mix. Here’s why:
1. It fuels engagement
“Once you’ve spoken to a student over the phone, that’s when you’ve truly started to build a relationship” says a UniQuest Recruitment Manager who leads student engagement operations on behalf of some of our university clients.
When you phone students, you’re providing a real voice for your college. This builds trust and rapport. Students feel more welcomed and appreciated when they know that you take the time to personally reach out to them, which positively influences their decision to study with you.
UniQuest Enrollment Advisors, who communicate with prospective students on behalf of universities via multiple channels, say that the response from students on the phone is particularly powerful.
“Students really appreciate the calls. They say it’s unexpected and are really happy to be able to talk to someone from the university. I support international students on behalf of a couple of universities in England and students will often say – ‘I can’t believe I’m talking to someone from England! What’s the weather like today? What’s the time?’ – it just really builds excitement. We call them regularly so they get to know us. When I ring them, they’ll pick up ‘oh hey Ana’ and as we approach their intake, they say ‘I can’t wait to meet you when I arrive!’ ” – a UniQuest Recruitment Manager
This sort of engagement makes a huge difference to application yield. UQ Enrollment Advisors have had students tell them that they were on the fence between two universities and that because the university took the time to call them, they wanted to study with that university.
Prospective students often share the sentiment of this international admitted student: “I was glad to get a call from a staff at your university, this kind of response is something I’m not used to and it gives me a lot of zeal to pursue my course at your institute”
2. It’s a faster way to deliver support
It is much quicker to talk through questions and concerns over the phone rather than go back-and-forth over email or online chat. When you’re having a real conversation, students can get all of their questions out in the moment instead of sending questions one-by-one over a string of emails across the day or week. UniQuest Enrollment Advisors estimate that when they address student questions over the phone, it saves them around 3-4 emails.
3. It provides reach in areas where internet connection is unreliable
So far, you may have been thinking, “what about video conferencing?”. Video conferencing is great too for personal conversation, but you’re dependent on smooth internet connections, which are hard for students in various parts of the globe to consistently come by.
Phone calls allow you to reach students no matter their internet situation. A significant portion of the international students that we support struggle with unreliable or inconsistent access to internet. For some of the students we support, it takes them three weeks or more to be able to get into their email.
Maneka Edirisinghe, a UniQuest Enrollment Advisor, mentioned: “Lots of students from developing countries that we support don’t realize they have an offer to study until we call them.”
4. You learn more about your prospective students
When you regularly speak to your prospective students you can gather more qualitative information that enables you to better understand them. Phone lets you actually hear their concerns, their priorities, how they process decisions, etc. giving you a more comprehensive perspective.