It takes more than just high quality inquiries to enroll high quality online learners. In fact, regardless of the lead source, the key to success with inquiry to applicant conversion is getting the student on the phone.
Unfortunately, for many traditional independent, non-profit institutions, calling inquiries within minutes or hours of a prospective students submitting information on an online form is a little bit outside of their comfort zone. It may be uncomfortable because admissions representatives don't like to feel 'pushy'; it may be because admissions professionals are more used to responding to questions from applicants, or it may be that employees feel too overwhelmed to perform their other duties and to call dozens or hundreds of inquires every day.
One of the ways in which schools that are interested in starting or growing online programs can effectively respond to online student inquiries is the tool commonly referred to as Qualify and Transfer (Q&T). This solution is used widely by for-profit institutions and highly scaled non-profit institutions alike. Q&T involves partnering with an organization that provides contact center (outbound call center) services to get students on the phone, qualifying the student as a valid and qualified inquiry, and then transferring the student to an admissions professional to discuss the application or the admissions process.
Of course there is a bit more to implementing a Q&T strategy then just partnering with a call center. It will also entail the creation of a script (or talk track), integration of inquiry data between organizations, telephony system integration, tracking, reporting, and schedule synchronization.
Despite the fact that this may seem like a lot of work, and an added expense, there are some pretty compelling benefits to using Q&T as an enrollment tool. Here are a few of the reasons to consider it.
First, is the improvement in conversion rate. By getting students on the phone quickly you will demonstrate your interest in them and will have a fighting chance while competing for that student against the big for-profits and highly scaled non-profit institutions. This immediate contact and conversation while the student is most interested in learning more about your program typically helps increase conversion by 25 to 50%, depending on the program and degree.
A second advantage is the ability to 'scrub' and disqualify bad leads. The script that is developed would typically include qualifying questions about the intent of the student, the level of education the student has already completed, and the intended enrollment term. This allows contact center personnel to remove prospective students that thought they were inquiring for a campus-based program, do not have the required level of education, or were only interested in receiving a print piece by mail. If you have done a good job of negotiating insertion orders with your CPL vendors this could save you tens of thousands of dollars by identifying the inquiries for which you will no longer have to pay.
The productivity of your full-time admissions professionals will also improve. By having them focus their time on qualified leads and applications they will be able to have more successful calls during their work day and will be freed up to do the other administrative and recruitment tasks you have assigned to them.
Your team will also experience a higher degree of employee satisfaction. Most admissions professionals would prefer to speak with students who are sincerely interested. Q&T increases the likelihood that this will happen. Your employees will be more satisfied with their work, and they will do a better job on the phone. They may even give you a hug and thank you for it.
Most importantly, it will serve students well. You will be able to answer their questions quickly, ascertain if your program is right for them, and keep them on their track to increasing their level of education and improving their lives.
Give us a call at 513-518-7824 or request information if you would like to learn more about Qualify and Transfer or other conversion strategies. We'd be happy to help you help students.