Interactive Voice Response applications, or IVR, are automated programs designed to record as well as provide information to a given caller via recorded messages. IVR can be a very useful tool for any organization, and especially primary and higher education institutions, needing to collect or distribute information via phone to a large volume of people. For an introduction to IVR and the key differences between IVR and related technologies like Automated Attendants, take a look at our IVR webpage.
Benefits of IVR for Universities and Primary Education
Before IVR, when a university, high school, or any other educational institution needed to convey information (for example, a school closure for a snowstorm) to students, parents, or faculty, a school administrator would have to come into school and manually record then distribute a message with the information.
Modern IVR solutions, like the XM Connect IVR, help alleviate these issues by providing a flexible, easy to use solution that leverages personnel databases, as well as other data sources including SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft SQL Server databases. This enables educational institutions to easily convey information via inbound without needing to physically record any messages for every incident or situation necessitating outbound notification. This means administrators no longer need to record individual messages about important registration deadlines, school events, holidays, et cetera, nor do they even need to make a potentially dangerous drive to campus during inclement weather just to notify students of a campus closure.
The connection to databases also provides a great deal of value for students, parents, or faculty that call in to seek information. By accessing these databases, students can navigate the IVR to find up to date information on tuition fees, application fees, or any other debts owed the school without requiring a live conversation, for example. Other examples include calling in to find updated course information (including registration dates, location, and registration status), last minute changes to finals scheduling, or even to find campus contact information or to report an emergency.
This makes XM Connect’s IVR an ideal solution for conveying information to students and faculty alike. It also enables students and faculty to call in to easily obtain updated information, quickly reach campus security to report incidents on campus, or even pay a bill or fee over the phone. The IVR solution can also be set up to enable a caller to reach an operator or support agent simply by pressing a number any time while interacting with the IVR.
Inbound: Seeking Information, Reporting Incidents, and Paying Bills & Fees
A valuable feature provided by modern IVR like the one found in XM Connect is the ability for students, faculty, and even concerned bystanders to seek information about campus life or quickly reach campus security to report campus incidents. IVR can enable students and faculty to pay bills and fees over the phone, including tuition, parking expenses, and any other debt owed to the school.
Educational institutions can also set up their IVR solution to provide a one-stop source of truth for school-related information, including course registration status, final grades, financial aid disbursement status, coursework completion status, and final exams schedule. It can also be set up to provide a means to create appointments or schedule class registration reminders.
To convey complicated or detailed information, the IVR can even be connected to a given institutions CRM, enabling a caller to leverage a unique identifier (such as a student ID number) to request information be emailed to them instead of communicated over the phone. This can be immensely useful in cases where the information is too complex to reliably be communicated over the phone. Examples include finals schedules, options for class times, campus event information, and more.
In the event of an emergency situation on campus, an IVR can provide a quick and easy means for students, faulty, or any concerned onlookers to quick report the incident to a hotline after calling 911 (or other emergency number, depending on locality).
Outbound & Inbound: Calling in Sick and Class Cancellations
Students aren’t the only people who fall ill, but without a reliable means to communicate class cancellations, professors and other faculty may feel pressure to conduct class even when they shouldn’t. Reaching out via email may work but is reliant on the professor having email addresses for accounts that their students actually use. Students may not always check the email address the institution provided them or may provide the university an email address they don’t frequently check. A modern IVR solution combined with XM Connect Notification can help remediate this problem by not only providing the professor or faculty member an easy way to call the university and report their illness, but then in turn would allow the IT department to issue an outbound message notifying all registered students of the class cancellation.
Outbound: Communicating School Closures and Events
Snowstorms happen, as do sporting events, concerts, back to school events, protests, and even things like block parties. All of these can have a direct impact on a given student or faculty member’s life and experience on campus, especially if they result in a campus closure. The programmable functionality in XM Connect Notification enables educational institutions to easily leverage a database with upcoming events to communicate that information to students via phone, text, or both, giving them ample notice to plan around such events. For unexpected events, like a school closure for extreme weather or an emergency, the Notification solution can also issue an emergency notice informing students and faculty of the closure.
Interactive Voice Response is an immensely useful tool for virtually any type of educational institution, and is offered as an add-on feature in our XM Connect solution. To learn more about XM Connect’s IVR functionality and how it can help support your educational institution, reach out to one of our industry experts.