Transforming CX in Education: Strategies for Personalized Student Engagement in 2024

Prashanth Kancherla

Feb 8, 2024 | 8 mins read

Customer experience is the cornerstone of any successful venture, and educational institutions are no exception. They are unique arenas where the ‘customer’ isn’t just buying a product but embarking on a potentially life-changing journey. These participants, the students, immerse themselves in programs that shape their futures.  A positive and engaging student experience can be the thread that keeps a learner connected, motivated, and on the path to success. That’s why educational institutions should craft a journey that resonates with them on a personal level and supports their ambitions. So, how can these institutions harness technology’s power to educate and offer personalized engagements?  These questions and more were at the heart of a recent virtual roundtable titled “Rethinking CX in Education: Crafting the Next Decade of Personalized Engagement.”

The panelists included: 

  1. Abhishek Sharma, Chief Business Officer, Vidyamandir Classes 
  2. Nihar Pandit, Director of Product Management, UNext Learning 
  3. Abhishek Mukherjee, Head of Customer Lifecycle Management, Bhanzu 
  4. Ajay Singh Kharb, Director, Testbook 
  5. Anjani Kumar Bhatnagar, Deputy Director, (ATPC) AMITY Technical Placement Centre- Centralized Campus Placement Division of Amity Universities 
  6. Sharang Dhaimade, Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer, SEED Global Education 
  7. Sandhir Sharma, Ph.D.(Mgmt), Pro Vice Chancellor, Chitkara University 
  8. Harsh Ranjan Sinha, Head of Admission, OP Jindal Global University 

These experts delved deep into how student-centric experiences will set new engagement standards in the digital age. They also gave insights into how institutions can enhance engagement at every stage of the student’s journey. Below, we highlight the key takeaways based on the conversation in this virtual roundtable.

1. Embrace AI and Digital Tools for Enhanced Students Experienced 

As Anjani Kumar Bhatnagar pointed out, “Digital advantage supremacy has gone well beyond traditional marketing to become a broader society issue.” This rings especially true in education, where adapting to technological changes is not just an option but a necessity for survival and relevance. 

Bhatnagar argues that educational institutions must metamorphose, adapting to the needs of their stakeholders—students and parents. In an era where information access is paramount, leveraging technology from the initial point of contact is crucial. 

Imagine a confused freshman seeking course advice before joining college—a simple AI-powered chatbot on platforms like WhatsApp could provide tailored course options, setting the foundation for a rewarding educational journey. The technology should continue to support the student in areas like offering insights on complex subjects. This approach not only meets the pace of changing technology but also ensures that institutions remain relevant and connected to their audience’s evolving needs. 

2. Leverage Data for Personalized Experiences 

Harnessing the power of data to create personalized student experiences is a game-changer in the educational arena. Sandhir Sharma notes, “Everything that is data-driven is very important.” A data-focused approach enables educational institutions to tailor their offerings, ensuring that each student’s journey is as individual as they are. 

However, with great power comes great responsibility. Sharma emphasizes the critical importance of securing this data as he states, “The second important thing is data management.” This dual focus on leveraging data for customization while fiercely protecting it ensures a trust-based environment.

3. Human Touch Is Still King 

In crafting personalized education experiences, institutions must balance digital innovations with the irreplaceable human touch to create truly enriching experiences. Sharma’s perspective sheds light on the enduring importance of human interaction. He emphasizes, “If it is everything digital in the student journey and there is no human touch, trust me, they will lose all excitement.” 

Personalized learning experiences tailored to individual students must incorporate the human element from the outset. This human touch fosters excitement, engagement, and a deeper connection between students and the educational process.

4.  Focus on Elevating Customer Experience from Start to Finish 

As Abhishek Mukherjee highlighted in the discussion, one principle to follow when enhancing customer experiences is to “try to reduce the reasons for customers reaching out to you to the extent possible.” Institutions should also ensure that, when students reach out, it’s effortless

Mukherjee recommends embracing omnichannel and multilingual approaches to communication, ensuring that students have diverse avenues to seek support. Leveraging technology, such as AI like GPT, becomes crucial in streamlining these interactions. 

He notes that the journey starts well before students enroll, encompassing marketing, sales, and, most significantly, the onboarding process. Streamlined processes and technology play a pivotal role in efficiently onboarding students, helping them understand the platforms, the learning management system (LMS), and the relevant apps. 

5.  Adapt to Modern Student Engagement Preferences 

The evolving landscape of student engagement, particularly for Gen Z prospective university students and online program seekers, demands a deep understanding of consumer preferences and behavior. This understanding is pivotal to successfully converting prospects into paying students. As Sharang Dhaimade notes, “it’s not traditional anymore where just the brochure is the best marketing piece.” 

Sharang points out that today’s students seek instant gratification in acquiring information, often through social media and messaging platforms. As such, institutions must maintain a constant online presence, catering to students’ late-night scrolling habits. The goal should be to meet students where they are and respond to their queries.

6.  Achieving Customer-Centricity is Not Straightforward 

While the concept of customer-centricity sounds straightforward, the reality is more complex. Sharang noted that policymakers and decision-makers in the education sector face the challenge of deciphering consumer preferences. They often grapple with questions like where to find potential students, what they like, and how to effectively reach them. 

As Sharang puts it, decision-makers struggle with questions like, “What is the length of a lead form? Is it fine if we just do first name, last name, and mobile number and then call them and try to qualify them? Do you want to have all the information on the form? What if people drop out?” The challenge lies in striking the right balance between lead form simplicity and collecting sufficient information. 

To overcome these challenges and craft personalized engagements, he recommends approaches like A/B testing. Implementing data-driven strategies, conducting surveys, and continually refining content marketing to match students’ preferences, like listicles, are essential steps in this journey. 

 7.  Integration Is the Key to Overcoming Data Overload 

While the panelists emphasize the need to harness data for enhanced decision-making, they also acknowledge there’s a challenge. Sharang encapsulates this challenge: “Collecting data is the easier part. Making sense of that data and actually exercising and making decisions based on the data you’ve collected is the difficult part.” 

The abundance of data for educational institutions, from surveys to social platforms, can be overwhelming. As a result, this valuable resource often remains untapped due to time constraints and a lack of expertise. But according to Sharang, there’s a solution. 

He says that the key to unlocking the potential of this data is through the seamless integration of various tools and platforms. Connecting systems like WhatsApp Business, social media, email, and customer relationship management (CRM) into a central repository can provide a holistic view of each lead. This integration enables institutions to gauge the ease or difficulty of closing a lead and tailor their approach accordingly. 

8. Counselors Should be Equipped for Effective Online Engagement 

In navigating the post-COVID era, educational institutions were confronted with the challenge of seamlessly transitioning between offline and online engagement models while keeping the student at the center of the experience. Harsh Ranjan Sinha highlights that the “new normal” brought about a stronger digital presence for universities. 

As the digital presence of universities strengthens, counselors are required to adapt their approach to cater to online interactions with students and parents. Traditional in-person counseling relies on body language and face-to-face interactions. Harsh notes that “when you sit offline with a parent or a student, body language plays a very important role”. 

Unfortunately, the offline experience cannot be fully replicated in the virtual space. To bridge this gap, institutions should invest in training counselors to effectively counsel and engage with stakeholders online. This training involves mastering the art of one-on-one online discussions, enhancing presentation skills, and leveraging digital tools like virtual campus tours and video messaging. 

9. CX Is a Necessity in the Post-COVID EdTech Landscape 

Ajay Singh Kharb underscores the significance of delivering personalized experiences to customers within the edtech sector. He points out that “CX is no longer a luxury but a necessity, especially for the edtech sector. 

The companies in this sector recognize the critical importance of providing tailored and seamless experiences to students. As Kharb points out, these enterprises are showing a growing commitment to investing in technology, ensuring students encounter a flawless and personalized educational journey. 

10. It’s Time to Maximize Technology’s Potential in Student Engagement 

Abhishek Sharma argues that in this digital age, the greatest untapped potential for educational institutions lies in the effective utilization of technology. He notes thatjust having or holding a class over a Zoom or a Blackboard, or, you know, Cisco Systems, is not enough.” 

Institutions need to recognize and harness the unique capabilities that technology offers to improve students’ experiences. He notes that first, technology can facilitate a robust feedback mechanism, enabling real-time feedback for continuous improvement. It empowers educational institutions to swiftly address issues and red flags, ensuring a smoother student experience. 

Technology also transcends boundaries and offers institutions the ability to engage with alumni effectively. Abhishek emphasizes that technology is not an end in itself; it’s a means to enhance a student’s potential. 

It should enable the transformation of a student’s capabilities. Moreover, technology’s pervasive nature, irreversibility, and democratizing effects underscore its immense potential to improve education and satisfy both students and parents. 

11. Educational Customer Experience Is a High-Stakes Game 

 Nihar Pandit underscores the exceptional significance of customer experience (CX) in the education sector, which he aptly describes as a “high trust and deep touch” industry. The Gen Z audience, known for their restlessness, places a premium on seamless experiences, especially in education. A subpar educational experience results in a loss of trust in the institution, potentially lasting a lifetime. 

In this context, technology emerges as a pivotal player in ensuring top-tier customer experience (CX) across all facets of education. Nihar advocates for proactive engagement, driven by data insights. Institutions should use technology to detect and respond to students’ actions in real time. 

Moreover, a multi-channel, omni-channel approach is crucial to catering to diverse learner preferences. Leveraging platforms like WhatsApp, inbound calls, ticketing systems, and more ensures that users can reach out to institutions easily.

Leverage Ozonetel’s Omnichannel CX Platform to Personalize Engagement in Education 

The virtual roundtable makes it clear that the future of education hinges on creating personalized, data-driven experiences, enhanced by AI and digital tools. Embracing AI, leveraging data for personalization, ensuring data privacy, and developing unified platforms are crucial steps in this journey. Institutions must balance these with the indispensable human touch, understanding that technology is a means, not an end. 

Boost student enrollment and engagement using Ozonetel’s unified CX platform. Educational institutions can run promotional campaigns, monitor performance, and optimize ROI seamlessly across voice and digital channels. 

With our educational call center solution, you can offer quick support, foster quality conversations, and clarify doubts throughout the enrollment journey. Provide timely access to student information to counselors and collect feedback through customized surveys, analytical tools, and social media listening. . Sign up for a free 21-day trial today and experience the transformative impact Ozonetel can have on your educational institution’s customer journey. 

Want to see what Ozonetel can do for your company? Sign up today for a free 21-day trial.

Prashanth Kancherla

Chief Product Officer, Ozonetel Communications

Over the past decade, Prashanth has worked with 3000+ customer experience and contact center leaders...

Share this post: