Aberdeen University (@aberdeenuni) transforms clearing process with AI chatbot technology

Clearing is not just stressful for students but for staff and workers too. So to help handle the overwhelming number of clearing queries they receive annually, several universities are now optimising the process by employing powerful chatbot technology.

Enabled by AI technology provider Futr, Aberdeen University launched its first chatbot service this year to demonstrate how digital transformation can bring innovation to a traditional and often cumbersome process. The newly designed process resulted in less pressure on busy phone lines, therefore freeing university staff to focus on more complex queries.

Live chat was launched on the first day of clearing as well as an automated chatbot to help with repetitive and transactional queries out of hours. The technology is available in over 100 languages, which is particularly useful for a University such as Aberdeen, with a significant international student population.

During the busiest 12 hours of the first day, over 350 conversations took place and about 4000 messages were exchanged. The average waiting time for a response was just 90 seconds, while the average conversation lasted ten minutes.

“We wanted to offer students an alternative method of getting in contact alongside the traditional phone hotline. Research has shown that every year more and more students are receptive to speaking over live chat,” says Megan McFarlane, Head of Engagement and Conversion at the University of Aberdeen. “The whole platform is really intuitive and the fact it has unlimited users/conversations is such a stark benefit over other chatbot providers”.

According to a 2019 Helpshift survey of over 2000 consumers across the US, UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands, 30% of respondents consider chatbots “very helpful” and would knowingly engage them, double the number of 2018 and a sign of growing acceptance.

With more than half of companies planning to deploy chatbot technology over the next 18 months, founder and CEO Andy Wilkins identified conversational AI as a critical emerging tool for maintaining communication between humans and essential services.

“I recall from my student days how hectic the clearing process was. It’s great to be able to support students and offer universities these services at a time when they’re so stretched.

The widespread adoption of chatbot technology accelerated by the pandemic, will revolutionise customer service across many sectors including education,” he says.

To minimise waiting times, Futr’s live chat tools seamlessly escalate complex student queries to a university’s live agents.

Committed to keeping the human element in chatbot services, Futr is empowering organisations to understand the potential of AI and automation to work alongside their human teams rather than as a means of replacing them to cut costs.

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