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Why You Need a Higher-Ed-Focused Call Center to Help With New Student Enrollment

higher ed call center, higher ed contact center, outsourcing admissionsThere’s no shortage of leads coming to your higher ed admissions department every day, but your team still struggles to grow new student enrollment. 

They are overwhelmed and stressed. There’s overall dissatisfaction among your employees, which looks like high turnover or counselors with decades of seniority who now function as little more than seat warmers. They dislike being on the phone all day, making and answering calls.

They say they’re being asked to do work they weren’t hired to do. They’re bored, resentful, and desperately want the bandwidth to do the work they’re passionate about: counseling potential students and guiding them toward new student enrollment. 

You’re not sure what to do next or where to turn to make the most of your current department while growing student registration.

Could Hiring a Higher-Ed-Specific Call Center Help Your Enrollment and Admissions Efforts?

Consider how working with a call center—one who is specialized in working with higher ed institutions—could ease the burden for your team, freeing them to do their jobs more efficiently and with greater satisfaction. 

When you hear the words “call center,” you may be thinking of robocalls being dialed from a cold warehouse in the middle of nowhere with the caller trying to steal your credit card information. 

But that’s not the type of call center that you need to help you increase new student enrollment. 

In this article, I’ll outline the most important characteristics you need to look for in a higher ed call center, why they are important, and how you can find the ideal call center to grow student registration for your institution. 

Why You Want to Work with a Higher Ed Contact Center, not a Call Center

As you’re researching call centers with whom to partner, you’ll likely find fewer results when you search “higher education contact center” than “higher education call center.”

That’s because the vernacular hasn’t shifted as the practices have changed. From our perspective (and for the purposes of this article), we prefer a higher-ed-specific call center with agents focused on customer service and relationship building. We like to refer to that as a “contact center.” 

Here’s a list of how we define the differences between the two: 



Use many types of contact mediums

Use phone as the primary medium

More relational

More transactional

More concerned with quality

More concerned with quantity

Provide information/guidance

Resolve issues

Reps are well-trained and pass a caller on at a point where it benefits the caller 

Reps often rely completely on software systems and are not empowered to help without passing on to others in the company

Interested, motivated callers

Frustrated, irritated callers

Warm and caring in response

Cold and uncaring in response

Callers working toward long-term resolution and understanding

Callers expect an immediate fix,
short-term solution

More immediate service/more responsive

The “waiting game” (on hold for what feels like an eternity)

Four Ways a Higher Ed Contact Center Is Better than a Call Center

Working with a higher ed contact center is, simply put, a far more effective experience than working with a call center. 

You’ll want to work with a higher ed contact center that uses various communication methods to perform high-volume outreach that feels personal and intimate, in order to track customer interactions and to capture and analyze performance data.

Four characteristics set apart a successful higher ed contact center:

  1. Multiple Mediums
  2. Focused Outreach
  3. Meaningful Engagement
  4. Understanding the Industry  

Multiple Mediums

Higher ed contact centers that use multiple approaches to engage prospective students have a greater chance of nudging them forward in the admissions process. Most call centers only focus on one or maybe two modes of communication, which, while helpful, is not the optimal way to grow new student enrollment. 

Conversational marketing through SMS texting is crucial to reach today’s students who live on their smartphones. Combining and coordinating texting with chat, emails, phone calls, voicemails, and mailings from the institution across multiple channels with the “just right” frequency helps elicit a response, and a response of any kind increases the chance of new student enrollment signficantly.

Focused Outreach

You’ve purchased thousands of student names and now you’re trying to figure out how to increase new student enrollment. Now, you need to give them more attention than just an email here or there. Higher ed contact center agents have meaningful conversations with these students to guide them through the college search process. 

Most call center agents swap out client calls, based on who is next available in the queue. Higher ed contact center agents are assigned and dedicated to one institution, thus giving 100 percent focus, attention, and ownership on impacting enrollment at “their” institution. Serving as an extension of your campus, contact center agents cultivate relationships with these “cold” prospects with the sole purpose of pointing them to your application (and beyond). 

Meaningful Engagement

All of the content that higher ed contact center agents use is carefully crafted to adhere to and to promote your brand messaging and promise statements exactly how you want. The phone scripts, email and text messages, and chat responses are written to highly engage each prospect and to get them to the next step in the enrollment process. 

This content is structured into strategic contact cadences that are designed to engage a high volume of prospects in such a way that makes it feel personalized and intimate, increasing the impact of the outreach and eliciting the response that will make each campaign a success. 

Cadences are important because they ensure strategic and timely engagement with each prospect, performed by knowledgeable contact center agents who understand the college transition. Without these meaningful interactions, students see your institution as just another school that is clogging their inboxes. Phone and text provide a human element to the emails students receive. 

Understanding the Industry

Call centers for higher education enrollment typically act as a “jack of all trades, master of none.” For some, higher education is just one segment of business they conduct, lacking the focus on higher ed call center services that set a contact center apart. 

You want to partner with a higher ed contact center that understands the higher education landscape, is devoted to new student enrollment, and has agents experienced in admissions and advising. 

A contact center specialized in higher education student enrollment will be committed to your success and will meet with you regularly to discuss campaign performance, opportunities for improvement, and ways to maximize reach. They will offer key performance indicators (KPIs) focused on the success metrics you care about—engagement rates, inquiry to applicant conversions, admit rates, yield, and more. 

Don’t Wait to Work with a Higher Ed Contact Center Should I Hire a Higher Ed Contact Center free download checklist

As you’re interviewing possible new partners for your enrollment efforts, it’s critical that you understand the type of services you’ll receive. Ask your vendors specific questions about the points covered here. Download “Should I Hire a Higher Ed Contact Center?,” a handy checklist we created, that will help you do your research. 

Whatever you do, don’t wait to act! Every day of indecision and procrastination costs your institution in lost enrollments and revenue and sends your admissions team into a greater sense of frustration. 

Get your free download checklist, “Should I Hire a Higher Ed Contact Center?” here