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Each year, tens of thousands of college students enter Clearing, a system that operates between July and September and offers a second chance to achieve a place at university for students who have declined an offer, received no offers, missed the deadline, or missed the grades. Last year, more than 60,000 students were accepted through Clearing, with the majority of applications received via phone.

This year, with the added uncertainty surrounding the current and next academic year amid the on-going Covid-19 coronavirus crisis and higher education resources more stretched than ever, how will universities cope with the increased volume of calls once the Clearing process starts?

It’s worth noting that every single missed call from a prospective student is worth at least £27k to the university – and those applying through clearing don’t tend to wait long before moving on to the next available option. In normal times, it’s not enough to rely on outdated legacy telephony systems and an over-stretched administration to capitalise on the Clearing opportunity. In the middle of a global pandemic, it’s even riskier.

The funding burden on students has created a very competitive environment amongst universities to attract the best students. To keep student numbers at an optimum, universities must deal more effectively with large volumes of student enquiries from the Clearing system. This includes handling Clearing calls professionally to avoid losing potential students to other universities.

SCC and Cisco work with universities to help them cope with increased demand and higher call volumes during the Clearing process, with Cisco’s Cloud and On Premises Contact Centres that can be scaled up when necessary and back down throughout the normal academic year. The simplest of features, including voicemail, unified messaging, and video conferencing, can have a significant effect, with more calls able to be answered or returned quickly and efficiently.

Cisco Contact Centre solutions provide AI-powered cognitive agent and customer experiences, and an in-depth view of your caller’s journey. For universities during Clearing, it could be the difference between a student lost or gained, with each call nurtured and telephone agents supported to cope when volumes increase. It enables queued callers and ensures more applications are received during the Clearing process, attracting more students and reaching often ambitious intake targets.

Customer experience has emerged as a key competitive differentiator for contact centres worldwide and has allowed customer interactions to become an opportunity. The Clearing application process is no different and Cisco Contact Centre can help capture every single enquiry, no matter how it’s received, by consolidating multiple software products to answer a single query easier, every time.

Universities need to adapt to changing times and new requirements – particularly at the time of a global crisis. Using Cisco Contact Centre, delivered by SCC, universities can integrate third-party applications, multiple channels, and benefit from superior agent-assist capabilities, resulting in reduced call handling times, fewer missed calls, and more students accepted into university through the Clearing process.

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