When online schooling first arrived on the scene, it was a novelty and was touted as having the ability to change the world by making education readily available. If a student had access to the internet, they had access to education. Not only did it significantly change the face of learning, but it also brought with it a need for online school support, both from an institutional standpoint but also from the perspective of the users. William Allin stated, “Education is not the answer to the question. Education is the means to the answer to all the questions.” We agree, but also know that when education is offered in an online setting, many questions that necessitate answers come along with the convenience of a virtual educational setting.
Considering the wide variety of platforms available to provide courses and many different demographics of people accessing those platforms, the support needs can require customer care or technical support. Customer care refers to the experience that the customer has, and alleviating frustrations and pain points from their perspective. On the other hand, technical support focuses directly on fixing a specific technical problem or concern.
Frontline Call Center supports both technical support and customer care for online schooling from many different angles. We would like to explore some of the support options and how they interact with the different types of online education- in often surprising ways. This year a large percentage of class learning is being shifted to online options due to current affairs. We handled 5,286 enrollments this year alone for a single client! Institutions are quickly realizing and adapting to the undeniable need of having at a minimum a plan for education to be conducted solely online.
What do outsourced customer care and technical support avenues look like in online education? Technical support is the most common aspect of online learning we contract for. Access issues and password help transcend all ages and platforms. We’ve all been there, “What is my password?!” Once a student is in the learning software, support can be provided to help set up and navigate based on browser type and device type. The user demographic can impact the type of handling needed greatly and as much as we’d like, it is not one size of support fits all scenarios. For example, in universities, we see a higher percentage of calls about buffering issues in online class videos. Often this is due to a spotty wi-fi connection as they utilize a café or other lounge spot for studying. A K-12 student could have the same buffering issue but theirs could be due to a sibling playing video games in the next room or their mom working in her office. Staying cognizant of your demographic for behavioral and situational patterns makes a difference in identifying and solving issues quickly, the right way. K-12 tech support can differ from higher education customer service, but the end goal is the same which is to provide education support online.
Systems down is another area of technical support that crosses all education genres. When an entire university or class is on one network and it goes down, it can disrupt 100’s or 1000’s of people at one time. Tensions and anxiety levels due to frustration and uncertainty skyrocket. Support for this starts with monitoring for system health alerts and having a support representative reach out to an on-call tech or engineer. Then the calls, emails, chats, and texts from students start. One client had a system go down and we handled 1696 calls and 584 emails in a single day which helped lessen both the client’s problems but also each individual felt heard and helped. If an issue is known, a message can quickly be added to the phone IVR letting them know the problem has been reported, and a resolution is being worked on.
A real-time alert can be shared with the entire support team so that regardless of the communication channel, the message back to the students is controlled, consistent, and helps the situation. When an unknown scenario hits, your internal tech team may need system information to be gathered to aid in troubleshooting. Frontline Call Center has real-time communication options that allow information to be gathered quickly and accurately, and we even can shift the process if additional information is needed. Frontline offers technical representatives that are a functioning tool that can truly be utilized as a resource and not simply as information gatherers.
There are elements of online education support that see a crossover between customer care and technical support. Access and password assistance can sit nicely in either type of support and both types of agents can navigate to a solution seamlessly. Enrollment support may also include high level or light level information on the classes, the dates they occur, and payment handling. There may be a triage aspect with other departments internal to your school or business if there was a payment issue when enrolling for a class or if an offering on the website is experiencing a broken link.
One of the challenges that we have seen in the past and anticipate seeing this year due to the global pandemic is the ability for entities to provide and ship the necessary classroom materials. With so many types of business shifting to an online environment Frontline Call Center has already seen a shortage of access to computer devices. With shipping services interrupted, we are also starting to see delayed deliveries of books and other necessary supplies. Tracking shipments and assisting with online or physical class content sits squarely in our customer care wheelhouse. The ability to access multiple systems to verify, track and document while controlling contact with a student who is panicking because they don’t have the needed materials either physically or online, in time for a class requires a skill set our customer care agents are trained for. Being empathetic but direct and informative allows our agents to alleviate some of the frustration the student may be feeling.
Frontline Call Center’s customer care also includes a few lesser-known online support options, which are being able to conduct surveys and offer online proctoring. Both of these services are unique and catered to a school’s use case. Surveys can be done to gauge a student’s satisfaction with the services we provided them during their support contact, but it can also be used for calling alumni for many different reasons or reminders about timed events. Proctoring is an area of service that is a niche. Many schools check the identity of the student and monitor exams in a physical location. The novelty of being proctored virtually can alleviate the need for both the student and the proctor to go to an onsite location. Of course, the proper support documentation must still be presented and verified. During the Spring of 2020, our agents performed 470 live authentication proctoring events for a single client!
We are watching with interest as the fall semester approaches and are passionate about education. If you require this type of support and would like to explore these avenues more, we would like to talk with you and see how we can help. We helped over 45,600 people just in the last year specifically regarding online education customer care and tech support issues!