April 23, 2020
Virtual Education: How to respond to more questions in less time
The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed millions of students into virtual classes. Faced with the deluge of inquiries, schools have decided to automate parts of the process. Find out how.
Covid-19 created an unprecedented situation for educational institutions.
Data from Unesco found that 1.7 billion children, in over 165 countries, were out of school in order to control the pandemic. This comes to about 90% of the student population worldwide.
Overnight, the entire educational community was put in limbo. Millions of students with time off, as well as the parents suddenly forced to juggle caring for their kids full time along with remote work.
At the same time, teachers around the world became administrators of virtual classrooms, communicating with their students through social media or WhatsApp or Telegram groups.
As a result, practically the whole educational enterprise was reinvented and the coronavirus became a catalyst for e-learning.
According to Google, searches for "e-learning" grew by 244% between January and March of 2020 in the English-speaking market. In Latin America, the words "clases virtuales" reached a peak of 2600% in March alone.
For another example, just look at the price of Zoom stock, which rose more than 120% during the pandemic crisis, due to an increased use of the video platform for basic uses like classes and team meetings.
This is also the case for Outschool, a digital platform for teaching classes, which hired 5,000 teachers to satisfy an 1100% increase in demand, spurred by parents looking for online courses so their quarantined children can continue their education full time.
So should your business open the door to e-learning?
Just one more fact. The Business Impact of Next-Generation eLearning affirms that the industry is among the fastest-growing industries worldwide, with a 900% increase recorded since 2000.
We agree. The online education industry is experiencing a true boom that's here to stay. But how are they responding to the hundreds of messages they receive every day?
Education in the digital era
So far we've discussed millions of children removed from their classrooms due to COVID-19, but e-learning, or virtual classes as we cal them in Latin America, are not something that only affects kids.
In 2018 in the United States, 83% of people interested in continuing education took a course online. 68% of the audience is over 40 years old.
After all, according to a study from Brandon Hall, online training requires 40-60% less time than in-person training, using exactly the same content.
Let's go even further...
Did you know that the knowledge retention rate for e-learning is as high as 60%? That data comes from the The Research Institute of America, who also reports that the in-person rate is 8%-10%.
Less time and better information retention? E-learning looks like the right option for any educational institution.
Options for online education
The first few months of 2020 have been extremely unsettled, but they also opened the doors to opportunity.
Plenty of businesses had to reinvent themselves, and in this area there have been many experiments in the education industry.
What tools do you think of when you hear e-learning?
In many cases, people use Zoom because the quality of the video calls is indisputable and allows for online teaching with both parties participating in activities.
Plus, Zoom allows you to schedule meetings, create notifications, share screens, use digital whiteboards to draw or write notes, chats, and more.
Everyone knows Google, and this makes it a great tool for online classes, sending assignments, and receiving homework. This allows everything to be a little more dynamic.
A report from AppBrain found that during the pandemic Google Classroom was downloaded by more than 50 million people.
What about a more direct communication tool?
The messaging app par excellence. You can use groups to create virtual classrooms to impart knowledge. And it allows for group video calls.
The reality is that they are multiplying every day. In February of 2020, WhatsApp reported 2 billion users worldwide, unseating their closest competition.
Soon after, in the countries most impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19, messaging via WhatsApp increased by 70%.
But as if that wasn't enough, according to Sendinblue, WhatsApp Business has an open rate of 70%, while the email open rate is 29%.
WhatsApp Business and e-learning
The COVID-19 crisis pushed us all into quarantine, which has forced almost every business to transform.
Luiz is a friend from Brazil who runs a school in the center of the country. He receives hundreds of messages via WhatsApp every day, but one in particular caught his eye.
One day he received a message from a father who said he was desperate...
It turned out that he wanted to transfer his daughter to a different school because the one she was enrolled in was not giving online classes and the time off was stretching on too long. So in his limited free time he started to search.
Well, all the schools were closed. There was no way to knock on doors and ask about prices, so he called and called schools, with no success. All the numbers he could find to contact administrators took him to automated messages giving him the customer service hours, completely out of date.
Until he found the website for Luiz's school. Here there was no phone number hidden in the contact section, but rather a magical WhatsApp button in the lower right hand corner.
And the conversation flowed. The client explained his problem and in minutes someone got back to him with prices for enrollment, monthly fees, online class modalities, and schedules. Done.
WhatsApp is certainly ideal for virtual class, since teachers and students can constantly exchange messages, educational materials, and all types of information.
Let's talk about another case. Imagine that you offer online courses in digital marketing. A very common strategy these days is to offer free webinars, inviting as many people as possible on social media.
Normally, at the end of the talk, people pitch a promotion about a recent course, and have a moderate success rate.
But in our current context, all this has been enhanced...
DonWeb, for example, found that inquiries about Cloud Hosting and Moodle--one of the most popular open-source tools--increased by 40% in March 2020. These are services generally offered to educational institutions.
Has there been an increase in demand?
You just need to look at another data point, this time from Wordstream. According to their study, the CTR (the number of people who see an ad and click on it, versus the number who keep scrolling) in the educational sector have increased from 3.42% to 6.49%.
So yes, there has been an increase in demand. So if you offer a free webinar or any event that involves inviting your audience to buy a course online, the messages are going to come flooding in.
How can you take advantage of WhatsApp Business for virtual classes?
Sadly, even WhatsApp has flaws...
Let's go back to the online marketing courses. How do you publish all the phone numbers for each of your salespeople on your website while they are working remotely? And we haven't mentioned customer service yet, how do you organize those communications? Where will you centralize the information?
Then there's clearly one more problem. With all your branches and teams converted to digital, how will you measure performance? And how will you monitor how salespeople are interacting with customers? What is the definition of a good customer service interaction?
And the most basic question: how can you respond to hundreds of messages a day without going crazy?
So many problems!
At this point, we're probably all aware that things are going to change significantly. Having an app that unites your whole team: administrative staff, sales agents, and support agents, could be the light at the end of the tunnel.
Let's put it this way: it would be like a well-ordered classroom in the middle of an exam.
At Sirena we developed an app that is perfect for educational providers, that allows you to digitize all your teams and sell more using WhatsApp Business.
After all, we are one of the few applications that integrate officially with the WhatsApp API.
This allows us to add notes, which can only be seen by employees, or add reminders, schedule calls, and program smart rules for agent assignments.
Plus, since Sirena has pre-approved templates, many parts of the process are largely automated, such as responding to inquiries or providing customer service. This is work time optimization.
Let's look at some simple use cases...
Why is WhatsApp Business essential for e-learning?
These days, millions of educational organizations are communicating via WhatsApp. Their strategy is simple enough.
They communicate and publicize their phone numbers in traditional media and via internet, and include buttons to send messages on their websites.
This is a scenario in which business need a solution to digitize their community relationships.
Look at this example of a business in Argentina that consists simply of collecting WhatsApp numbers for neighborhood businesses to help people contact them from home. In some other era we would have said this is for convenience. Now it's a necessity.
But beyond that, why is Sirena the ideal tool for educational institutions?
How many messages does your business receive every day? What if you could direct them to the appropriate team without having to do anything?
One of the functionalities of WhatsApp chatbot for educational institutions is that it allows you to direct customers to the correct team.
It can be as simple as offering customers three options when they contact your business: Talk to sales, support, or administration. Done.
Multi Agent console
We mentioned this before.
Basically, Sirena allows you to centralize your communications through a WhatsApp line for each team, avoiding the use of personal lines.
Communication can be carried out via message templates, automatic responses, voice messages, video, and images. They don't just improve the experience, they optimize your team's time.
Messages at scale
Now, if your business is an educational institution like a school or university, or maybe you sell courses online, often you need a megaphone to communicate something important to your audience.
Do you send them an email?
Remember that we've told you the open rate for email is 29%, versus the WhatsApp open rate of around 70%.
There's just one problem. WhatsApp is a serious enemy of spam. To combat it, they remove around two million accounts every month.
But there is a way to send messages at scale. Basically you just need permission from the people you'll be contacting and a pre-approved WhatsApp template. That's the only way to make sure each of your contacts receives the correct message.
Don't wait any longer. Your business can implement WhatsApp Business successfully and digitize your educational institution and your teams.