05 May 2022 By: Natalya Bucuy
“I wish to be useful even after my death…in forming and advancing other young people who may be serviceable to their country.” – Benjamin Franklin
This is quite an admirable quote from one of our most famous founding fathers. Little did Benjamin Franklin know that two hundred years after his death, these words would not merely be a sentence of his will, but a reality for many students in his hometown of Boston.
BFIT’s Mission to Serve Local Communities
Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology (BFIT), Boston’s only technical college, has been educating students for over a hundred years. A private nonprofit technical college located on the south end of Boston, BFIT offers programs in a variety of fields. They include automotive, HVAC, electrical engineering, and other technical and vocational programs. The college offers certificate, associate, and bachelor’s programs and is primarily a minority-serving institution.
“Our primary mission is to train a diverse skilled workforce for the greater Boston area, says Marie Gendron, marketing director at BFIT. “We strive to serve our students as well as businesses. We have more than a hundred business partners with whom we work to develop programs. This way we can make sure that we are training people for jobs that are going to be in demand and good-paying.”
Communication and Student Experience Challenges
The internal workings of academic institutions are complex. Questions about admissions, financial aid, class offerings, tuition, and many other aspects of higher education come up on a daily basis.
BFIT’s staff worked hard on delivering the best possible student experience. However, the institution faced some challenges when it came to supporting students, especially after hours.
While times were slower during Benjamin Franklin’s life, in today’s world we move fast. We look up information whenever a question pops into our heads, business hours being the last thing on our minds. This presented an issue to staff who could not deliver round-the-clock student support.
“We get email inquiries or people call and leave a message outside of normal Monday through Friday hours,” Gendron says. “The admissions team is there from 8:30 to 5:30. But we wanted to be able to capture people after those hours.”
And so, the team reached out to HelpSqaud, looking for 24/7 student chat support. Higher education happens to be one of the areas where HelpSquad’s efforts come very handy. With HelpSquad’s live support agents available at all hours, visitors can find pertinent information and get their questions answered quickly.
When presented with an option to talk to a live agent instead of waiting until the next business day to get answers, website visitors are more likely to stay engaged and interested, Gendron says. The new practice of providing 24/7 student chat support has proved to bring great results since its implementation in April of 2021. That, in turn, helped improve BFIT student experience.
“The live chat agent support program has been incredibly successful,” Gendron says. “It’s improved customer service to the core people we’re trying to reach, which are prospective students.
Live Chat Support Provides Leads
Speaking of prospective students, the process the BFIT and HelpSqaud teams developed as part of their partnership did more than improving the student experience. It also helped bring in more leads through the 24/7 student chat support.
Many of the inquiries that come in through the live chat feature ask simple or frequently asked questions – hours, location, when does the next term starts, etc. Some, however, come from those prospective students who want to apply to the school and need a follow-up. Catching these leads while they are engaging on the website has been very helpful, Gendron says.
After the initial interaction with an agent, the admissions staff can follow up with the prospects, refreshing their interest and possibly moving forward in the admission process.
“I think it gives visitors a quick answer when they’re thinking about us,” Gendron says. “That is what you want as far as marketing goes. If somebody is thinking about you, you want them to be able to have a satisfactory exchange right away. You don’t want them to go to the website, and realize that there is no one there to answer questions at the moment. So, it’s been great, because it gives people an immediate interaction.”
Supporting Students and Staff by Updating the Website
Interacting and supporting students to answer their questions is the primary purpose of HelpSquad’s efforts. However, the chats agents have with the school’s website visitors help the administration shape future visitors’ experiences.
First of all, the chat interactions help determine what questions visitors ask the most. This helps the school update its website to possibly answer these questions in the future.
“It’s been great because the unexpected benefit is that [HelpSqaud’s service] really does answer a lot of questions from across the college—it’s not just admissions,” Gendron says. “But it also has been really helpful, because I can see what page people came in on. I oversee the website.. And if multiple people are asking a question and they’re coming from a page where I think that they should have that answer, I can check to make sure the information is there. And if it’s not, I can add that content.”
Second, because of the complete availability of transcripts of each visitor’s interaction, the staff can identify trends. Departments can determine if there is a need to update the knowledge base questions HelpSquad agents receive from the school. If a question keeps coming up, it signals to the school that perhaps it is time to update the list. That, in turn, ensures that future visitors will have a better student experience.
“Some of the agents have gone far out of their way to find information for people,” Gendron says. “Or, in some cases, people ask multiple questions, and the agents have gone and found the answers to them all. It’s incredible! They really do a great job of supporting students.”
Heartwarming Student Experience Success Stories Keep the Mission Going
During its more than 100 years in business, the school has seen many success stories. The fact that the education the institution provides helps local families and communities delights the administrators and the staff. After all, when success is apparent, it keeps the ambitious spirit going.
Gendron recalls one particular story that touched her. She recently received a phone call from a parent whose son was about to celebrate his 40th birthday. The father was looking to purchase some items with the college’s name on them and make a gift donation to the school.
“‘I wanted to get some stuff to give my son for his birthday because Benjamin Franklin really saved his life.’” Gendron recalls the father saying to her. “He said the father talked about how his son had substance abuse issues, and he really didn’t know what to do. But then he enrolled in college and got his degree in health information technology. He has been working for the last 10 years for medical supply companies and hospitals across the New York area. He was now installing, repairing, and maintaining medical equipment in emergency rooms. The father said, ‘he loves the job, he’s happy, productive, and is living a great life.’ And we hear stories like that a lot. It’s incredibly heartening to hear that our programs make such a difference to somebody.”
We agree. Our team here at HelpSqaud is honored to be part of BFIT’s operations and to continue supporting students and the college’s mission.
And we think Benjamin Franklin would agree, too.