call center

Kennesaw State employs new approaches to handle growing enrollment

New call center and Internet voice technology help improve students’ customer experience

KENNESAW, Ga.  (April 5, 2012) — In the face of rising student interest in Kennesaw State University, administrators have turned to a state-of-the-art call center using the latest Internet communication technology to improve customer service, increase efficiency and assure students a ‘one-stop shop’ experience with admissions, financial aid and registration.

Launched in October 2011 with technical assistance from the Governor’s Office of Customer Service, the Enrollment Services Call Center employs Voice over Internet Provider (VoIP) technology to handle an average of 600 inbounds calls per day – as many as 2,200 per day during peak registration and fee payment deadlines. The center also employs 15 customer service agents to assist with the calls.

“KSU Enrollment Services has a successful history in using the telephone as an outreach recruitment and retention tool,” said Kim West, associate vice president for Enrollment Services and Registrar. “The call center is the next level of state-of-the-art telecommunications serving our audiences who are making inbound calls.”

With VoIP, the call center can handle various communications in a consolidated way through one point of contact. By unifying communications over a single network, infrastructure costs can also be reduced to improve operational efficiency, West noted.

“The Governor’s Office of Customer Service provided free consulting services about how to start and run a call center, and their help was invaluable to us,” said Joe F. Head, a special advisor to Enrollment Services who led the call center implementation project.

Though open only a few months, the call center has already reduced the number of “walk-ups” to the financial aid office by 36 percent, according to Head. This enabled the office to award and disburse funds quicker and more efficiently.

A recent survey indicated that 85 percent of students responding said the new approach saved them unnecessary trips to campus. In addition, the call center dramatically reduced the number of incoming phone calls to the front desk of the Registrar’s Office by about 75 percent.

“The objective of the call center is multipurpose,” said Head. “Interest in KSU is at an all-time high; requests to tour the campus have increased 145 percent over the past four years, yet many of those requests include students who may not be ready to visit the campus but have questions they want to ask. The call center enables us to help those students and improve customer service for current students while freeing up the admissions office so it can better accommodate those interested in touring KSU.”

Earlier this month, KSU officials showcased the call center operations at a series of forums attended by 15 institutions from the University System of Georgia and Technical College System of Georgia. KSU presenters explained how participants could implement a similar system to update and improve enrollment service operations on their campuses.

“The participants were pleased to hear that our callers experienced a normal wait time of less than 30 seconds,” said Rebekah Butcher, call center director.

“Our call agents are working from a common CRM (customer-relations-management) knowledge base,” said Butcher. “Therefore, answers to questions are consistent among calls and the CRM knowledge base can be updated on the spot if necessary. This exciting new project will better serve our students because it allows them to call us when it’s convenient for them and get all the answers they need, usually with their first call.”

 

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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering 80 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing and a new Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the 35-unit University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing student population of 24,100 from 130 countries.

 

By Robert S. Godlewski

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