Students at the University of Portsmouth in Portsmouth, England are accustomed to a challenge familiar to students around the globe – universities are large and complex, and sometimes that makes it difficult to find answers and to acclimate. The result is a constant search for ways to improve service and the flow of information to students. How do you ensure that students know where to go for information, that you are prepared to address their questions, and that you still have the bandwidth to offer high quality service and counseling? After partnering with Ivy.AI, the University of Portsmouth may have found the solution.
According to Adam Francombe, a service delivery specialist at Portsmouth, it didn’t take long to measure a significant impact after installing Anna, their Ivy.AI chatbot. His department primarily provides technology-related assistance to students through means including live web chat and email. Since implementation in March of 2019, their live web chat inquiries have reduced by 50%. Figure 1 shows the number of live web chat inquiries each day from January 1st, 2019, to April 30th, 2019. Importantly, the university offers the chatbot as an optional alternative to live chat versus a gateway to it, suggesting that students are willingly electing to engage with it. In addition to offering a new avenue for information, Anna is available to users 24/7.
The Service Delivery Department at Portsmouth began their search for a chatbot to innovate the way they help students. They place emphasis on their mission to ‘shift left’, a phrase they use to describe automation and process improvement for the sake of providing a better user experience. Likewise, it was important that the chatbot’s responses were clear, of a high-quality, and as concise as possible. The chatbot mostly assists with questions related to wifi, printing, VPNs, passwords, and Portsmouth’s AppsAnywhere portal for university applications. Francombe added that the chatbot is particularly useful for such subjects that do not require in-depth technical assistance. With significantly fewer inquiries overall, the service department reinvests time into additional service innovations and responding to more complicated inquiries.
The University of Portsmouth chose Ivy.AI over alternatives offered by Google and Microsoft because of the way it delivers information to users. Ivy’s multimedia presentation allows the university to imbed YouTube videos, PDFs, and interactive buttons. The result is a seamless experience for users, receiving detailed, step-by-step instructions, with options to help them locate the best information for their inquiry. Francombe said they hoped to avoid linking users away to other sources, and Ivy.AI was a great fit for that.
Working with Ivy.AI helps Francombe’s team understand where innovation is needed. Chatbot interactions are documented in transcripts, which Francombe’s team reviews routinely. They search for gaps, trends, and themes that can be addressed by modifying chatbot responses, creating new forms for users, and integrating APIs that make information more accessible to students. Ivy.AI chatbots include a host of additional features and tools, including SMS texting, API integrations, and administrative functions to improve chatbot performance. When asked what could be improved, Francombe said he wants to know more about enhancements to the product as they occur. He provided an example of passively learning that Ivy.AI chatbots were upgraded to communicate in over 100 languages.
A theme central to Francombe’s remarks is the desire to improve processes and provide innovative solutions. Partnering with Ivy.AI to bring an artificially intelligent chatbot to users on campus has helped to advance that mission.