By Teresa Anania
Edtech support has become essential with the increase in online learning--here are three ways to help operations run smoothly
It’s 8:45 a.m., and you’re helping your child log into their virtual classroom for another day of math, spelling and history. But the username and password combination isn’t working. You try again. Incorrect. You reset the password. Error message.
In the background, your second grader is throwing Teddy Grahams at the TV.
You message customer support via the “Help” chat on the education platform, and the customer service agent asks for your school’s unique code. “Who knows where that is?” you mumble in frustration.
You stress eat Teddy Grahams. Another password reset comes through. You log your child into the class just as the lesson begins.
For many parents around the country, this is the reality of virtual learning.
Teachers, parents, and students are doing their best to adapt to the new remote education landscape, but despite everyone’s best efforts, sometimes the technology meant to keep students engaged doesn’t always work the way we need it to.
However, there are proactive steps edtech platforms can take to make things faster and easier–and help us all overcome the challenges of navigating this new normal.
Let’s dive into a few lessons from the customer experience world that can help the edtech community better empower parents and educators with a seamless, remote learning experience, so they can focus on what they do best: help students learn and succeed.
Lesson 1: Help me, help you – the mutual benefits of self-service
Teachers, parents, and students need tech issues resolved quickly so they can get back to doing what they need to do–teaching, supporting, and learning. As a result, self-service has become critical to providing a seamless remote learning experience for everyone.
Online help centers and knowledge bases with updated FAQs, articles and community forums can help everyone find the answers they need quickly, without having to wait on hold for a customer service agent. Knowledge base usage outpaced direct customer requests, and remote learning companies saw a 165 percent increase in knowledge base views during the early months of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Another avenue for success is to help teachers create personalized Teacher Pages, a continually-updated resource for students and parents to find details on homework assignments, upcoming exams, and additional learning tools. Online digital learning platform Clever, for example, also recommends links to community websites, like the local public library.
But a help center is only as useful as the information it provides. Edtech companies must ensure that anyone looking for answers finds what they need, quickly. This means ensuring the help center is kept up-to-date, and can even leverage simple machine learning technology to identify the most frequent issues that teachers, parents and students need solved.
For example, online course creation platform Teachable has helped schools, government, and healthcare agencies by providing free access to its program. In doing so, the company has seen an 80 percent jump in customer service inquiries via its chat channel since the first days of widespread lockdowns.
By May, Teachable announced a new Teachable Community, open to any of its paid members, to provide easy access to company perks, online workshops and direct Q&A. Rather than migrate to find answers on another platform – like Facebook – members could easily find what they needed in one place.
Lesson 2: Chatbots free up agents to work on more complex needs
As we’ve established, the boom in online learning platforms means support requests are simultaneously surging. To help ensure customer service agents and tech platform providers can manage the deluge of requests, edtech platforms should look to chatbots.
Chatbots can easily manage a variety of support needs, and the additional support for answering more simple or common questions helps free up an agent’s time to bring the necessary “human touch” to more sensitive or complex needs. Chatbots can also help students and parents find the information they need faster without even leaving the platform, ensuring they avoid wasting valuable time sending emails or chasing down other contacts for help.
Teachable is a great example of how you can use this technology to your advantage, and several universities have also launched new chatbots with unique names in recent years to help better engage with their students, including ‘Cowboy Joe’ at the University of Wyoming and ‘Pounce’ at Georgia State University. The latter not only helped answer students’ questions in real-time, but helped keep students committed to enrolling in classes long after they were accepted into the school. And with the success of these programs, several other education institutions are following suit.
Lesson 3: Communicate with parents and teachers where they are
Teachers used to hold traditional “office hours” when it was convenient for their schedule. However, that schedule did not always align with parents juggling work, family needs, and a never-ending list of errands. Now, there is an opportunity for teachers to be more available on the messaging channels students and their families use in their day-to-day lives.
WhatsApp, Twitter/FB direct, texting, social media, and chat growth are all outpacing traditional email/web forms of customer service. With digital-focused learning continuing for more of the school year calendar (and potentially beyond), these numbers are likely to continue their steady increase as well.
In addition to phone and email, parents and teachers are increasingly reaching out to their education providers via social media, chat, SMS, and native messaging. They are far more willing to communicate with support agents via messaging in the same way they do with friends and family. With a focus on familiarity and preference for convenience, parents can get their problems solved while multi-tasking at work or at home, and teachers can host “Parent Teacher” night from the comfort of their couch.
So, what’s next?
As parents, teachers, and students navigate the uncharted waters of a new school year with the added challenges of balancing or switching between virtual and in-person learning, school districts are leaning on online learning platforms to keep curriculums moving. But to ensure everyone gets the most out of these new digital environments, edtech companies need to take a new approach to helping their customers bridge the gap between customer service tools and access to better customer experiences.
To help ensure a successful transition, it’s essential that edtech companies provide the support that teachers, parents, and students need for a seamless, effective learning experience. Doing so would not only contribute to overall student success, but could help keep kids engaged and lead to better retention next year.
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