Based in Western Australia, Edith Cowan University (ECU) is a multicampus educational institution, offering more than 400 undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Perth and Bunbury. Established in 1991, ECU offers flexible study options, including on-campus and online courses, midyear entry, and a variety of degrees. There are approximately 24,000 local and international students enrolled at the university, with approximately 4,000 taking online courses.
To enable administration staff to effectively respond to queries from students, ECU implemented a suite of Oracle RightNow products to create a single relationship management system that would centralize student inquiries across different faculties, departments, and service points, and enable staff to monitor students’ social media posts in real time.
It can now respond to 95% of online queries within two business days, compared to 70% in 2007; resolve 82% of inquiries in one business day, compared with 47% in 2007; and address 99% of them in less than five business days. In addition, between August 2012 and January 2013, ECU serviced 72% of the 3,632 chat requests it engaged in. Each request was responded to in an average of 38 seconds and resolved within 10 minutes.
Historically, student inquiries were handled at a number of service points and across campuses at ECU. The absence of any customer relationship management (CRM) or self-service knowledge base made it increasingly challenging for the university’s customer-service staff to serve, refer, and track student queries.
In 2007, the university implemented the Oracle RightNow platform to provide students with a 24/7, self-service information database, and to centralize customer responses from online and phone inquiries into a single relationship system accessible by all of its service staff.
In 2011, ECU upgraded the system and implemented Oracle RightNow Social Monitor Cloud Service, Oracle RightNow Chat Cloud Service, and Oracle RightNow Mobile Cloud Service. It also expanded its use of Oracle RightNow Web Self Service Cloud Service.
“As a cloud-based solution, the Oracle RightNow system eliminated infrastructure costs associated with on-campus hardware and support, and it offered the flexibility for us to schedule regular upgrades and service packs,” said Jackie Moffatt, student liaison manager, Edith Cowan University. “Most importantly, the system could deliver against our service standards and enabled in-depth management reporting on performance benchmarks.”
The Oracle RightNow system enables staff to monitor the type of inquiries students are making and associated response times. ECU divides inquiries into two categories. Tier 1 can generally be resolved by the university’s contact center, for examples, requests for directions to the university, and queries about enrollment, course progression, and events on campus. Tier 2 inquiries are those that need to be referred to specialist teams for resolution, for examples, course or unit-specific information and detailed-fee requests.
“The system helps staff capture, track, assign, and manage student inquiries and requests, from initial contact through to resolution, across all channels, including e-mail and social media,” said Moffatt.
“It has raised staff efficiency by reducing the time previously spent manually recording and referring e-mail and phone inquiries by automating the logging, allocating, and escalating inquiries to the relevant team or person.
“University staff can now resolve 99% of student inquiries in less than five business days,” she said. “In 2012, up to 82% can be resolved in just one working day, compared to 47% in 2007. Overall, this has improved the number of online student inquiries that our staff can respond to within two working days, from 70% in 2007, to 95% in 2012.”
ECU has increased the range of Web-based services it provides to students by integrating Oracle RightNow Enterprise Contact Center Dynamic Agent Desktop Cloud Service and Oracle RightNow Web Self Service Cloud Service with its student portal and Facebook account.
“By expanding our capability to track inquiries across multiple communication channels, we can build more detailed student profiles and trace the communication experience of each student,” said Moffatt. “Broadly, this alerts us to any trends in student issues and allows us to be more proactive in building and promoting our frequently asked questions (FAQs) and other social media communication strategies.
“The university can also capture the origin and progression of all inquiries resolved since 2007 to build an archive of the inquiry responses we have delivered to students for future reviews,” she said.
Understanding student attitudes and experiences is essential for building and improving the university’s service delivery and reputation. The Oracle cloud system, upgraded with Oracle RightNow Social Monitor Cloud Service and Oracle RightNow Self Service Cloud Service for Facebook, has enabled university staff to trace student comments made in real-time discussions on Facebook and Twitter by automatically capturing students’ posts relating to the university.
“By quickly identifying students who may be experiencing an issue, university staff can prioritize their posts for follow-up,” said Moffatt. “Staff can also select the best means of communication when responding to recorded posts or incidents by individuals or groups of students.”
The integration of Oracle RightNow Chat Cloud Service has also added a live chat feature to the range of student inquiry services the university provides.
“The chat function allows students to engage in real-time, interactive conversations with a staff member at the university library, student recruitment services, or Student Central, the main student service help point,” said Moffatt. “This ensures that students, particularly those who are off-campus, can quickly and easily access information from the person most able to assist.”
Between August 2012 and January 2013, ECU engaged in 3,632 chat sessions with students, servicing 72% of queries received through this channel. Each chat session was responded to within 38 seconds and the query resolved within 10 minutes. Around 94% of these chat sessions involved Student Central and student recruitment services. ECU maintains a record of each transaction, so it can monitor quality over time.
Trained, experienced service staff can efficiently handle up to three chat sessions at a time, allowing a small team to service several students simultaneously and deflect queries from traditional channels.
“This not only allows students to communicate with us on an alternative channel but it integrates seamlessly with Oracle RightNow Self Service Cloud Service for Facebook, so we can leverage the existing knowledge base and service structure,” said Moffatt. “The additional channel also provides staff with increased variety in their working day and has been well received.”
Using custom data objects, university staff members can manage data taken from student retention models and devise campaigns that reach students. The aim is to improve student performance and reduce drop-out rates at the university.
“Staff can also track e-mail open rates and monitor the type of e-mails students actually read,” said Moffatt. “This means we can see which students haven’t read key e-mails reminding them about enrollment deadlines or fee payments. These students can then be contacted in a different way to make sure they receive the essential information in that communication. The statistics give us management data on the types of communication that students are more likely to engage with, so we can more effectively tailor how we communicate with them.
“In addition, our staff can provide tailored assistance to students who may need extra help during their university time, for example, international students who need to meet their study visa requirements or students who complete their online studies remotely,” said Moffatt.
“Initial data from our customer satisfaction survey show that 8 out of 10 students are completely satisfied with our services.”
Students can use the Oracle RightNow system to find answers to their questions online from any device, including desktops and smartphones. It has enabled ECU to set up FAQ feeds on its Website. The feeds, which appear at the bottom of each faculty Web page, link back to the main FAQ page. The addition of feeds increased FAQ page views to 40,000 per month in 2012, compared to 2,000 in 2007.
“By providing the most relevant and timely information and making it accessible to students any time of the day, they can use the Website as the first point of reference for answers to any questions they may have,” said Moffatt.
Additionally, the development of knowledge and FAQ pages has helped reduce the number of simple student inquiries the university receives, and also the amount of time staff spend responding to generic, repeat questions. ECU estimates an enterprisewide solution has reduced the number of inquiries submitted directly to staff, with 97.5% of customer portal visitors able to answer their questions using the knowledge-base pages to source information.
ECU considered query management solutions from a number of US-based vendors, as well as systems adopted by other Australian education institutions. The university chose the Oracle RightNow platform because it was more flexible than other vendors’ solutions available to the education market and provided a more holistic inquiry and relationship management solution.
“The full range of cloud solutions offered by Oracle enabled us to provide a superior service experience to our students across various contact and communication channels, including social networking,” said Moffatt.
ECU first implemented Oracle RightNow products in 2007 to create a single student relationship system to centralize its online and phone inquiries.
The university upgraded its Oracle RightNow platform in 2011 to add social cloud monitoring capabilities to its existing system. The implementation was rolled out in 2011 in stages: in March 2011, ECU implemented Oracle RightNow CX Cloud Service, which enabled Facebook integration with the knowledge base; in May 2011, it implemented Oracle RightNow Mobile Cloud Service and released mobile-ready Webpages; and in June 2011, it implemented Oracle RightNow Chat Cloud Service with a soft launch.
The suite of Oracle RightNow products were installed as out-of-the-box solutions by the ECU Inquiry Services team.