While these are the best methods of communication for one-on-one engagement, don’t underestimate the power of the school’s website and social media for widespread message delivery, and the subsequent interactions staff could have with students who respond to that content.
Building the plan
With specific tools added to the foundation, you’re ready to come up with an effective communication plan. The following provides guidance on things to consider, but it’s not an exhaustive list.
This is a critical factor, especially for schools who are recruiting across and enrolling from all U.S. time zones or internationally. When rolling out multiple communication channels, they must be supported in accordance with the times students may use them, which could result in off-hours for staff.
Evaluate the volume of students being supported as well as their geographical locations.
Consider high-traffic communication periods, such as right before or toward the end of terms/semesters.
Departmental engagement and access
Departments across campus should already be collaborating as part of the established foundation, but now it’s time to get into the weeds and determine who has access to the tools for what purpose, and to also define message content.
- Avoid silos and get people talking inter departmentally to ensure cohesion and unity for the sake of the students.
- Combine messaging when possible across departments so students receive single messages that encompass all of the information they need.
Platform and tool support
While departmental SMEs are the best source of determining what to communicate and when, they may not have the bandwidth to manage the necessary preparation, delivery, and monitoring needed for certain channels. Dedicated departmental resources can act as administrators to ensure communication management and to collaborate within the Center of Excellence. This helps to avoid overlap, to work through competing priorities, and to monitor what is working and what isn’t.
- Establishing administrators will help maintain security and consistency, so a wide variety of people do not have access to change key content within the system.
- Establishing a small number of people with administrative access provides a funnel for information and requests, making maintenance and management of the system more efficient.
Managing student preferences and unsubscribe
A factor of effective communication is reaching students using their preferred methods of communication. The CRM platform should contain not only their preferences, but also opt-outs, and messages should be tailored to the students’ requests. This could result in utilizing multiple channels for individual messages to different students, but duplication has to be managed and avoided.
- Opt-outs and unsubscribes need to be carefully maintained and managed to remain compliant with established regulations
- Despite preferences, official communications may require delivery through defined methods; continue to use these and find ways to alert students to these notifications so key information isn’t overlooked if the delivery method isn’t preferred.
Generally speaking, these guidelines are just the tip of the iceberg. They can provide a general understanding, however, of some of the necessary elements for a successful one-on-one communication plan. System implementation, onboarding, and rollout are also big pieces to this puzzle. And, once established, keep in mind that these tactics aren’t just for distance education students; they also apply to on-campus students who might prefer texting to walking into an office to talk with someone.
Defining scenarios and use cases for messaging and communication methods will be helpful as teams work through the steps to devise a plan. In next week’s blog, we’ll provide communication do’s and don’ts for when you’re thinking about when to use which tools and specific content.
Note: The article is also available on Appirio website, A Wipro Company. Visit the Appirio Nonprofit and Higher Education Hub to learn more about the latest developments and trends in this exciting space.