Artificial Intelligence

AI Assistant Supports Student Recruitment

Conversica's Admissions Assistant

A company that specializes in "conversational" artificial intelligence for sales professionals just turned its attention to the realm of higher education: Conversica has launched a version of its service specifically for helping the admissions department. Admissions Assistant, known internally as "Stephanie," (though "she" can be renamed) can help by contacting and engaging prospective students through e-mail as part of the recruitment and admissions processes. The service has already been tested by Pearson and a film school in Southern California.

The service facilitates individual e-mail conversations with prospective students and interprets the e-mail responses. The minute the software detects that interest has changed to "intent," the program alerts the enrollment staff. Reporting in the service provides metrics on student follow-up and response rates. The company has programmed the assistant to help admissions departments:

  • Follow up with interested students and accelerate the best leads to a human enrollment counselor;
  • Re-engage potential students and inactive applicants;
  • Perform cross-selling of different academic program offerings through the "cues" offered up by the prospects; and
  • Improve attendance to recruiting events by reaching out to potential students and reminding them to attend.

On behalf of its university clients, Pearson "hired" the AI Admissions Assistant to work through a list of applicants who had become unresponsive for six months or longer, according to Alessandra Klee, associate director of database marketing at Pearson North America, in a statement. She said the efforts "resulted in a 26 percent increase in engagement rate and a 35 percent increase in conversion rate, which far exceeded our expectations."

The Los Angeles Film School, a for-profit college in Hollywood, sought a way to "have more persistent — and consistent — conversations with prospective students," noted James Winstead, vice president of marketing. He said his school is also using AI in its retention work, "allowing for constant communication with our students even after graduation, which helps promote ongoing brand advocacy."

Conversica said Admissions Assistant integrates with top e-mail, CRM and marketing automation systems. The service is available by subscription as a cloud-based, software-as-a-service application.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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