How Chatbots Are Being Used in EducationSeptember 24, 2019
A note from Digistorm: this post was originally published in November 2018 and has since been updated to include more relevant information.
In 2019, artificial intelligence (AI) plays a major role in our everyday lives. From the rise of voice search to creating ‘smart homes’ with Google Home or Alexa, AI is working behind the scenes to save us time and help to streamline our daily tasks.
One of the most common ways we’re seeing digital marketing being influenced by AI is communication. You’ve probably noticed that most websites have automated their website support with chatbots. In this post, we’re going to cover what chatbots are and how they’re being used within the Education industry to improve communication.
What is a chatbot?
A chatbot is an AI tool that’s used to assist brands with their digital marketing and customer support initiatives. Chatbots (also known as messenger bots) work by analysing and recognising keywords and phrases entered into a support chat to deliver useful content or help articles.
Here’s an example from TechCrunch of their chatbot in action.
Image source: Impact
Chatbots are programmed to answer FAQs, make bookings, perform routine tasks, or refer you to a real-life support representative. In some cases, chatbots are so sophisticated that they’re able to replace humans altogether. Just take a look at the Einstein bot National Geographic created so that people could talk to the genius himself.
Source: National Geographic
Chatbots in schools
Chatbots have revolutionised customer support by enabling schools to send automatic responses to prospective parents 24/7. As we touched on earlier, some chatbots work by providing answers based on the keywords used within a question.
For example, if a parent was looking for information about how to enrol their child at your school, and entered the phrase ‘how to enrol’ into your chatbot tool, the chatbot would pick up on the keyword ‘enrol’ and produce a pre-programmed response attached to that word. From here, the chatbot could the parent to a specific page on your school website where they can learn more about your enrolment process.
Another option is to enable a Facebook Messenger bot. If you’re set up with Facebook Business Manager, you can program a messenger bot to send automatic responses to anyone who sends a message to your School’s Facebook Page -- this is particularly helpful for when a parent tries to contact you outside of business hours.
Implementing a school chatbot strategy
Before adding a chatbot to your website, or using a Facebook Messenger bot on your Page, you must have a strategy in place to determine how you’re going to manage it. Whether your chatbot uses automated responses or is managed by a real-life representative, they require careful planning. Chatbots that aren't sufficiently manned are ineffective and unprofessional. If website visitors expect to have their queries resolved by a chatbot, but are met with an out of office response (or worse yet, no response) this can put consumers off and deter them from visiting your website again.
There are two ways in which chatbots can be used. The first is to program the bot with automated responses. This involves dedicating time to manually upload a list of relevant responses that match certain keywords entered by the consumer. The second is to have a real-life representative manage your chatbot. This requires a member of staff to man the bot at all times, and be prepared to answer client queries in a timely and efficient manner. So, what’s the best strategy? Some organisations use a combination of both, enabling them to accommodate queries at all times of the day.
It looks as though chatbots are leading the way when it comes to personalised AI that we’re going to see more automation in the way we communicate. Whether you choose to have an automated chatbot, or a real life rep managing it, they offer instant assistance and direct queries to the relevant source. Providing there is a carefully thought-out implementation strategy in place, chatbots are proving to be a highly convenient, effective and timely tool to communicate with your school website visitors and Facebook followers.