Improving communication with students, one text message at a time
Ian Mortimer was searching for a way to make communication with prospective students at Nazareth College in western New York easier without picking up the phone or sending an email.
“One of the problems we were facing was having that one-way connection,” says Mortimer, who is vice president for Enrollment Management at Nazareth. “We wanted to find something so we could have a conversation versus just a one-way connection.”
Enter Mongoose and its enterprise SMS management platform, which allows admissions officers to be significantly more effective and efficient by connecting with prospects using their go-to medium: text messaging. Mortimer says it provides the best way for counselors to engage students and to build trust and strong relationships. A simple text can tell admissions counselors who is interested, and who isn’t, among prospective students in a matter of minutes.
“The beauty of texting is that people are very comfortable with it, and you know as long as we get back to them within a couple of hours or potentially one day, you know they’re OK with it,” Mortimer says. “It’s like email on steroids. It’s more personal, it’s more convenient and it’s more conversational. It’s a great services tool.”
Mongoose’s platform does not require much training for staff to use it. Enrollment personnel can manage text conversations from computers, tablets and mobile phones. Prospective students can be guided through the application process and get quick answers to questions.
“Technology implementations, specifically within enrollment, can be incredibly time-consuming distractions when the implementation takes away from the ability to run your business,” Mortimer says. “Mongoose is being very thoughtful and leveraging a tool and a solution that does not require a lot of our time.”
In addition to sending personal text messages, Mongoose can send group messages (including photos and emojis). It also offers two-way integration with student information systems, templates for commonly used texts, and virtual phone numbers that allow counselors to separate their personal and professional lives. Plus it reduces the need to have enrollment staff manning the phones.
“From an operational perspective we need fewer people answering the phone, which allows individuals to focus on other things that provide value,” Mortimer says. “From a brand perspective it has engendered trust with the marketplace in ways that email can’t come close. It has enhanced our ability to save the consumer time in getting questions answered and getting service issues resolved.”
Mortimer says there has been only one surprise with Mongoose: Older adult students are using text messages as their primary means of communication with Nazareth at rates that surpass younger undergraduate students.
“They find it incredibly convenient and service-friendly,” Mortimer says. “I didn’t think we would get as much interaction as we have with the adult market but it actually surpassed to some extent our undergraduate work in terms of people wanting to use that as our primary communication channel.”