With MBA Marketing and Admissions Team at CUHK
Inquiries handled automatically
Applicants for CUHK’s full-time and part-time MBA programs are mostly from Hong Kong, Mainland China, India and other ASEAN countries, regions in which instant messaging is extremely popular.
The MBA Programs Office was looking for a way to move inquiries away from email and onto channels popularly used by prospects, specifically Facebook Messenger. It also wanted to set up web chat on its website. Most importantly, it wanted to handle common inquiries automatically.
CUHK alumnus Gerardo Salandra (respond.io co-founder and CEO) was already pioneering a messaging platform that would help businesses shift customer communication from email and phone to instant messaging. The MBA Programs Office signed up for his novel solution in 2017 and was one of respond.io’s earliest customers. It implemented the following strategies.
CUHK MBA Programs Office was originally handling inquiries via email and keeping track of contacts and their data was challenging. Email threads are messy to mine for information. Existing prospects who sent a new email were hard to identify as returning contacts. Their emails also lacked the context of previous interactions.
CUHK created a Facebook Page for its MBA program and connected Facebook Messenger to respond.io. It also created a respond.io web chat widget on its MBA home page. This allows prospective students to ask questions immediately while browsing through the program’s website.
Now, all conversations on both Facebook Messenger and web chat flow into respond.io’s inbox. Respond.io also alerts users if a returning Messenger contact starts a chat on web chat or vice versa. Administrative staff can merge these conversations into one profile to create a single record of all interactions by the same prospect for full context.
About 98% of inquiry emails comprised casual frequently asked questions about the MBA program. CUHK wanted to reduce the time agents spend on answering FAQs.
It integrated natural language processing platform Dialogflow with respond.io and created an intuitive chatbot to handle FAQs on Facebook Messenger and web chat. When prospective students send a message, a carousel of inquiry categories opens. Students can select the relevant category or ask a question.
The chatbot processes the inquiry and sends an appropriate, comprehensive pre-set response. It then proposes related topics students can click on for more information. Conversations are reflected in real time on respond.io so staff can monitor the chat and respond manually if necessary.
Two common issues with web chat are that most web chats allow users to chat anonymously and conversations end as soon as users leave the page. This prevents businesses from collecting users’ contact details, keeping chat records and following up later.
CUHK made a contact form mandatory on its respond.io web chat to capture prospects’ names and email addresses. If they drop off from the conversation by closing the page, CUHK can send a follow-up email.
It also integrated its CRM with respond.io to centralize all contact data and conversations on one platform. Contacts created on any channel connected to respond.io are imported into its CRM. This way, it’s able to clearly trace all the communication that took place across the prospect’s MBA journey, from awareness to enrolment.
“We’ve been using respond.io for 5 years now and the platform has grown tremendously over time. We haven’t implemented newer tools like Workflows automation but we’re interested in its potential. Right now, one of the features we rely on heavily is the Dashboard, which gives us all the key insights and short and long-term trends we need to help us make decisions.” — MBA Marketing and Admissions Team at CUHK.
First, implementing chat messaging over Facebook Messenger and web chat as part of its communication strategy made it easier for prospects to initiate contact with CUHK’s MBA Programs Office. This increased inquiries by 50% compared to email.
Connecting all its channels and its CRM to respond.io then created a single source of contact information for the Programs Office. With the improved ability to identify returning prospects, staff can pick conversations up from where they left off.
As almost 98% of prospects’ inquiries are now automatically handled by Dialogflow’s chatbot, the admin team is free to focus on other matters. In fact, the Programs Office now has just a single user on respond.io keeping an eye on prospects’ conversations.
Thanks to the chatbot, first response times have improved from 36 hours to within minutes. Buoyed by these results, CUHK’s MBA Programs Office is now considering adding WhatsApp API as a new channel to communicate with prospects.