25: How Johns Hopkins University Uses Chatbots to Automate Customer Service w/ Gus Sentementes

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Gus Sentementes, Audience Engagement Manager at Johns Hopkins University discusses how to build your very own chatbot to automate customer service, better assist students, and increase your inquiry generation.

A lot of people are really lookingfor useful information. They're trying to navigate, you know, often times they're tryingto navigate massive university websites and they're looking for a simplified entree into it. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional developmentpodcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university.Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources,you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome backto enrollment growth university. I'm Eric Olson, AVP of marketing at Helix Education,and we're here today with Gust sentimentis audience engagement manager at Johns Hopkins University. Gust, welcome to the show. Hey, thanks for having me on. Eric. We're going to have a great conversation today about how to buildyour very own chat Bot to automate customer service better to students and increase yourinquiry generation. But before we get too...

...deep into that, gust, canyou get the listeners a little bit better understanding of both Johns Hopkins and yourrole there? Yeah, great, so Johnsonfkin, the university is a bigresearch university based in Baltimore, Maryland, and I am the audience engagement managerand I have been doing it for about five years now. As audience engagementmanager. Johns Hopkins, you found your self consistently fielding the same student questionson Facebook Messenger over and over again. How does your new chat bots providebetter customer service than you were previously able to offer manually? Yeah, that'sa great question, and so I think I you know, I think whatgetting to the point where I realized I wanted to build a chatbot. Iwas actually trying to solve the same type of question in different ways over thelast couple of years and which is basically as facebook, another the another socialnetwork, but especially facebook, has made it easy for your customers, yourstudents, your perspective students, to messages...

...through your page. A lot ofyoung people are taking that opportunity. We have a lot of major brands havebeen building out their chat bought experiences, and so a lot of times thatI discovered was when people were engaging with us through our sending us a messageon Facebook, they were some of them were actually expecting a chat bought experience. And so what I found was it was I'm just basically one person onour social team in the central office, and I found was that I wasn'table to keep up with a lot of the one on one messages that Iwas that were coming my way every day. It would take me several hours torespond and as a result of that, facebook was was binging our responsiveness onthe facebook page with a negative score right and so I was like,oh, how do I really get that up? And first I started useon facebooks, built an auto respond or auto reply service, which is freeand easy to do, and then I started I was like, okay,how can I beat this up to the next level, and that's when Istarted reading up on chat bots and and...

...what I found was that with aChatbot, what I basically have is sort of like a it's almost like aphone tree that when you when you kind of like dial up sate, likeyour local pharmacy, and they're like, you know, do you want this, do you want that? You press one, press to write, andso you can you basically just like replicate that experience through a Chatbot, likeand and it doesn't have to be super fancy and doesn't end have to involveyou know, super computers and artificial intelligence, but if you give people a guidedmen you experience of what they can ask as they're using their iphone withone hand on a you know, on a Saturday night and they want amessage Hopkins. And what I found was a lot of our people who aremessaging US tend to be foreign students, foreign applicants who really maybe can't navigatetheir way around an English website or an English Google search experience, and sothey're just coming straight to our page and asking how do I apply as aforeign student? And I would in the past I would always have to havethis you know, can response ready and...

...hold their hand a lot and itwould take a lot of time. And and now they get my chat Botand they basically I send them right to the web pages that they're looking forand if they have follow up questions there, they're still able to ask me thequestion, but it's basically a way to triage the dozens of messages thatI get every day on our page and as a result, I've seen myfacebook responsive numbers just go through the roof. I mean suddenly my green light ison. You know, people who run facebook pages will understand that andyou know it says. You know, I respond instantly with this great becauseit, you know, it looks great to our students and our customers.Right, right, yeah, and Gust there are a bunch of chat botsout there right now that in a great directly with facebook. I believe you'recurrently using jet fuel. There's many chat there's others in a whole bunch morelikely to come. How difficult, how costly and how much time to taketo build out your chat botroom scratch. So you can do it for free, just the time that it takes you...

...to build out a rudimentary type ofChat Bot, which I was sort of classify ours is sort of like,you know, experimental version one point. Oh, or you can really hirea developer or a team or a or a vendor to really customize the Chatbotand you can sell things through your Chat Bot. You could theoretically, youknow, build some type of an application system through your Chat Bot, soit could really runs the gamut from free. You can do a lot for free. That kind of answers your needs, for your growth needs for save thenext year or two. You know, if you're running a social media operationand higher sad or if you're finding that you're getting great engagement and it'sworth higher in a developer. Are, you know, building out some morebells and whistles? You can definitely do that. But the great thing aboutit is is you can do a lot just for free. Right now.It's just really like staff time to kind of understand these various platforms, whetherit's chats, fuel or many chat. You know some of the other onesyou know, and I think kind of...

...strategically you want to think about ifyou're going to invest in a chatbot development, do you want to chat out thatcan work across platforms, or are you really going to dedicate invest inresources and just facebook? And so I think that's sort of like the oneof the bigger questions to let's talk about inquiry generations. So when a studentengages with your Chat Bot, what contact information do you get automatically from thoseinteractions and is that enough information to effectively treat those students like you would atrue inquiry that came into your website? Yeah, so that's a great questionand working in our central office I don't directly handle do that type of directinquiry marketing. We have an undergraduate admissions in a graduate admissions office that reallydoes that direct marketing. But I can tell you what you can do witha chat BOT is as people engage with it, and the way that thatyou know, I am actually using it this way, is as people engagewith your Chatbot, it's sort of like collecting their email address. A chatbotis really almost like another version of an...

...email newsletter or database. Right.So once people engage with every I've had five hundred people engaged with our ourchap out on facebook and I have their names and their interest within, youknow, my platform and I can message back to them, you know,and I know exactly the different segments of the university that they're interested in.I know how many people were interested in planning a visit. I know howmany people were interested in applying to Hopkins for an Undergrad or Grad program.So I really think of a chat boy as like a as another spin onthe old email marketing approach, because you can do a lot of segmentation withit and with the analytics that you have build natively within the Chat Bot.What have you found are the most popular things, questions, information that studentshave been looking for when engaging with your chat by and if any of thosesurprised you, yeah, so you know really quick. I've been running thischap at now since October, and what I found was a lot of peopleare really looking for useful information. They're...

...trying to navigate, you know,often times they're trying to navigate massive university websites and they're looking for a simplifiedentree into it. And so the most popular content for us is for foreignapplicants. That's number one. People are also looking for. Another popular pieceof content are our online programs. You know, it's no surprise that peopleare using online social network to research online education programs. So on my ourlinks that I blast us at the Chat Bot to our online courses. That'salso pretty popular. And then what I found was not as popular is,you know, a lot of university spent a lot of time generating news,like, you know, public relations, news releases stories. When I foundwas the people who are coming into our chap out we're really not interested inuniversity news, you know, and I'm still going to be doing some moretesting. So it may not necessarily be...

...the best channel for public relations,you know, sort of like generating positive news stories, but it's more ofa one to one customer service channel, lead engagement type of experience, becauseI know students can interact with your chat bought directly on your Johns Hopkins Universityfacebook page. What do you say about folks who say, well, shouldthis just be there or should I have this directly on my Eedu site?And should my chat bought kind of be my virtual assistant to help folks navigatethrough site content as well? Yeah, I do think these types of chapotexperiences should be kind of populating across the web and the best experiences that Ihave, I've had personally with these chat bots, as they really hybrid experiencesbetween programmatics or of artificial intelligence engagement and then, you know, when thechap bout reaches its limit, a human...

...takes over. And so when you, you know, start to include these types of chat bots experiences across youknow, your websites and other platforms, I think you really want to asa brand, as an organization, you really want to make sure that peopledon't come away with it, don't come away from your chap bout experience kindof mocking it and kind of feeling like it didn't help them. So that'swhere sort of having some careful, strategic human interaction a lot in the chapotprocess, I think is really important. It's awesome you guys. Any finaladvice for listeners looking to start digging into this and then potentially create a chapout of their own institution? Yeah, I think it's really important. Ithink when you are trying to keep up with the increasingly fast pace of socialmedia, it's really important to look at how the next generation of users andstudents are using these different media options and to sort of understand that the mobilephone is a really become a central experience...

...and messaging has become a really,really important experience in the way people connect nowadays, and so it's always ait's trying to understand that. I think spending some time as a brand,as a university, to to really understand the mobile experience, I think isgoing to be strategically important. Because thanks so much for your time today.What's the best place for listeners to connect with you they have any follow upquestions? Well, I I think the best place they can definitely friend meon Linkedin. It's Gus sentimentous and that's I would definitely love to kind ofget some professional network in going there and help people out on this front.Awesome. Thanks against so much for your time today, Guss. Yeah,thank you, Eric. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollmentstrategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquelyhelping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has justpublished the second edition of their enrollment growth...

...playbook with fifty percent brand new contenton how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today forfree at Helix Educationcom. Playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university fromHelix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to theshown itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening.Until next time,.

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