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University clearing contact centre challenges in 2023

Last year 53,000 students entered University clearing, the most in 10 years. Contact centres are pivotal in the university clearing process, serving as the primary point of contact for prospective students looking for information, guidance, and confirming university places for the new academic year. However, contact centres face many university clearing challenges in terms of efficiency and other factors. They are usually busy, and getting busier, and they need to be able to help each and every person who gets in touch in the most appropriate way, ensuring they get the advice they need.

University clearing might not be what students expect to deal with. However, they may need this resource for this new chapter in their life. It’s vital to ensure that this new chapter begins as smoothly as possible. With that in mind, let’s discuss the specific challenges that university cleaning contact centres face and how to navigate these obstacles.

Streamlining Communication 

There are many different ways for people to contact university clearing, from phoning the contact centre to emailing, or even using social media. The issue currently is that most of these communications are separate from one another, meaning that once someone gets through to a contact centre to discuss clearing, they might have to repeat everything they’ve already typed or talked about yet again.

This can be frustrating, time-consuming, and, in some cases, confusing. There may be a response to an email or Tweet that simply doesn’t match up with the one-to-one conversation they may have with an agent.

This is where the ability to connect all conversations and communications together in one “pane of glass” as Jason Roos, CEO of Cirrus describes it. This will be not just useful, but vital. If this can happen, and every social media DM, Tweet, email, and phone conversation is logged in one place, agents can simply find all the relevant information and know precisely how to help and what has already been suggested. They’ll know what the customer needs and they can quickly come up with answers that aren’t just repetition or contradicts what has gone before.

Higher education contact centre solutions like this might sound like an impossible task, but with AI collating all this information and summarising what has been communicated, it becomes not just possible, but essential. These summaries can be seamlessly integrated into CRM systems to be used in the manner mentioned above while also used for analysis and reporting. This will save valuable time and can facilitate trend identification to help with feedback and overall growth.

The Right Information

AI can also be used to help agents give their customers the right information. In a university clearing contact centre, this is absolutely crucial. If the wrong information is given to a customer when they get in touch with this kind of contact centre, their immediate future could be more complex and uncertain than it needs to be. With almost 33,000 students going through clearing in 2022, this is a responsibility that has to be taken seriously.

AI can augment agent capabilities and knowledge by providing real-time suggestions and recommendations during conversations. By analysing data, AI-powered systems can anticipate student needs and offer agents relevant information, ensuring consistent and accurate responses.

These intelligent suggestions can empower agents to provide personalised assistance, enhance the overall customer experience, and reduce the burden of extensive information retrieval. With AI support, agents can efficiently address customer queries, navigate complex scenarios, and provide timely guidance through the clearing process.

Empowering Agents 

Empowering contact centre agents is essential for effective problem-solving and exceptional customer service. Universities can choose to invest in comprehensive training programmes, equipping agents with the necessary knowledge and skills to handle a wide range of enquiries. On top of this, providing agents with access to knowledge bases, FAQs, and relevant resources enables them to find solutions rapidly and deliver accurate information.

Encouraging autonomy in decision-making empowers agents to proactively support students, personalise interactions, and address unique needs. When agents feel empowered, they become confident advocates for prospective students, fostering trust and creating a positive impression of the university.

AI higher education contact centre solutions can certainly help make agents feel more empowered. Rather than being concerned that AI would take their jobs, agents should be given the training and knowledge they need to work with AI, taking advantage of its many benefits using the speed and accuracy it offers to engage better with customers.

Improving Productivity 

Enhancing productivity in clearing contact centres is crucial, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of agent well-being. Universities can implement productivity tools that automate repetitive tasks, simplify workflows, and provide workload management capabilities. These tools, which include AI systems, can help optimise efficiency and ensure that agents can focus on high-value tasks rather than being overwhelmed by administrative duties. With nearly 50% of the working population at risk of burnout, this is more important than many people realise.

Establishing clear communication channels and fostering a supportive team culture allows agents to collaborate effectively, share best practices, and provide mutual assistance. Regular performance feedback and recognition play a vital role in maintaining motivation and engagement, ultimately leading to increased productivity and improved well-being. Performance information can be gathered easily by AI systems, ensuring managers know what is being done and by whom, thus allowing them to offer this feedback in the most constructive way.

Enhancing the Employee Experience 

To deliver a seamless experience for employees, universities can integrate various communication channels, such as Twitter, web forms, email, and live chat, into a unified platform. This integration enables agents to access and respond to enquiries from different channels within a single interface, improving response content and efficacy. By streamlining communication channels, universities can provide consistent and efficient support while reducing disjointed experiences for students.

Moreover, advanced routing and queuing mechanisms can ensure that enquiries are assigned to the most appropriate agents, further enhancing the employee (and customer) experience. With a unified communication environment, agents will feel more in control of any interaction they have and more confident that the advice and information they give is correct.

Better Audience Engagement 

Engaging prospective students during the clearing process is vital for fostering strong connections. Universities can leverage technology such as interactive webinars, virtual campus tours, and social media platforms to offer personalised and immersive experiences. AI can help provide instant assistance to help with simple questions, for example, ensuring that agents have more time to spend on more complex queries.

Social media platforms are another area that cleaning contact centres can use to bypass the challenge of low audience engagement. Social media can create a feeling of community which can go a long way to a positive experience. By tailoring content and interactions to specific student interests, universities can create engaging experiences that resonate with prospective students and increase their levels of engagement all around.

Data Protection 

Given the increasing emphasis on data protection, universities must ensure robust security measures are in place to safeguard student information. Clear policies should be established to govern the handling and storage of data, including encryption protocols and secure data storage systems.

Regular training and awareness programmes should also be conducted to educate agents about the importance of data protection and the appropriate handling of sensitive information.  By implementing strong security measures, universities can instil confidence in prospective students and demonstrate commitment to data privacy. Once again, AI can assist with this as the sensitive data can be collected by AI systems so that no agent ever has to be aware of it, offering another layer of security.


At Cirrus, we understand the importance of ensuring a seamless and secure student experience. We provide AI-powered contact centre solutions that enable universities to process data quickly and effectively while ensuring robust security protocols are in place. Our solutions can be tailored to meet the specific needs of each university, allowing them to provide a superior customer experience for their prospective students.

Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you optimise your student contact centre experience.