Assessing your phone-based contact strategies
Phone-based contact seemed to be all the rage. Remember the time before caller ID? If not, it looked something like this: a person, sitting home alone watching their favorite show or reading a good book would suddenly hear a noise, like the clamor of an alarm bell. No, that’s not an air raid siren, it’s the phone.
That person would spring up, eager to solve the mystery that just materialized in their living room. Namely, who was on the other end of the line? It might be grandma, a telemarketer, or the guy from the electric company. There was no way to know without picking up the receiver and saying hello.
In those days, it was easier to get potential students on the phone to talk about programs they’d expressed interest in. Alas, those days are long gone. Even though everyone seems to have a smartphone glued to their hands at all times, admissions teams are having a harder time getting potential students on the phone. This is a look at why that might be the case.
The Challenge For Phone-Based Contact Plans
Phone-based contact strategies have worked for a long time. When an advisor does manage to get a potential student on the phone, the call can be the most valuable method of contact. Yet, reaching that point is a real challenge, and not just for colleges and universities. It seems like no one really answers their phones anymore. There are a few reasons why that is:
Technology Erects Barriers Between Callers and Recipients
Caller ID was a real game-changer. Technology that allowed people to always know who is calling stole the mystery and the excitement from a phone call. Besides robbing us of hundreds of little Christmas Morning experiences per year, caller ID also changed behavior. Knowing who’s calling makes it easier for people to decide they don’t have the time or mental energy to deal with the call right now. With voicemail as a standard feature on every phone, it’s often easier to just let the machine take it.
Other technologies have only compounded the problem. Built-in spam blockers automatically send calls to voicemail if they seem suspicious based on the blocker’s internal algorithm. Many phones even have a screening option, which will notify the caller that their call is being screened and ask them to provide information to help the owner of the phone decide whether they want to engage or not.
All of these technologies were designed to make life easier for phone owners and to combat aggressive call strategies. Noble pursuits, but it certainly doesn’t make it easier to engage with your prospective students.
Aggressive Strategies Made People Defensive
Did you hear the one about the State Trooper who got the call that a warrant was out for his arrest while standing in the police station? Oddly, when he loudly asked his Sargent about the issue, the caller hung up. It’s no wonder 67% of Americans say they won’t answer a phone call from an unknown number.
No admissions team wants to be lumped in with telemarketers and scammers. But that’s the risk you run unless the person receiving the call feels comfortable being called.
Familiar Contacts Make Calls Feel More Comfortable
Most people will pick up the phone for a close relative or friend. They’ll answer a call from a service provider if they’re expecting it. They might even answer a call from their boss, maybe. This concludes the very short list of callers most people are willing to engage with.
Knowing who the student will answer the phone for provides a place to start strategizing. The good news is that 69% of the time, people will pick up calls if they can identify that the call comes from a legitimate business. So, higher ed marketers can look for ways to build familiarity and trust so they will be counted among those legitimate businesses.
If admissions teams want to call potential students, they need to earn the student’s trust. That means building brand awareness and equity with the student first, so they know that the call will be worth their time.
In the meantime, if you need support for enrollment management, EDDY is here to help. Our highly trained team of higher ed professionals is armed with best-in-class technology and supported by a deep understanding of your programs and brand. Just give us a call. We promise not to screen it.