We know that A-level results day is the busiest day of the year for admissions teams.
With universities capturing almost 40% of their overall clearing enquiries on results day, it can be an overwhelming time for teams processing applications and enquiries. With D-day looming, here are our five top tips to make sure you don’t get fried on the day.
1. Luck favours the prepared
Preparation is the key to success on A-level results day. The more you test your clearing process, in advance, from end-to-end, the more efficiently your teams and processes will run on the day, helping both staff and students get through it with minimal stress.
As part of clearing preparation, make sure your teams are properly trained, especially if you’ve had to draft in new recruits to help operate stations during this busy time. Train staff early but not too early, so information is fresh in their minds when they need it. Also, make sure they’re fully equipped with the right documentation and tools to do their job efficiently.
2. Emotions can run high
It’s important to prepare your staff for the emotional stress they might face on the day. Speaking to distressed or upset students can also be upsetting for your team, so make sure they know what to expect and they’re not blindsided. Here are our top dos and don’ts:
- Do make sure staff are prepped properly. Carry out role-play exercises, so they know how to handle emotionally charged situations effectively.
- Don’t panic if a student gets angry or upset. Try and stay calm, draw on your training and focus on how you can help them through the process.
- Do be empathetic. Although you may have a high volume of students to process, take time to empathise with students who may be emotionally distressed. Reflecting back to them to show you’ve understood, for example, “I can hear that you’re upset” can help to diffuse the situation and help move the conversation forward.
- Do show them you’re on their side and you’re trying to help.
- Do take a break if you’ve had a particularly challenging or emotionally fraught call. You’ll be in a much better frame of mind to help when you’ve taken some time out to clear your head and take a breather.
- Don’t take it personally. Try to remind yourself that the student is upset over the situation, not at you.
3. Lets get digital
Take some of the strain of clearing off your staff’s shoulders by using responsive digital web forms for initial enquiry capture. These forms let you automate follow-up based on students’ input, sending unsuccessful candidates a rejection email and successful students details to a member of the team to follow-up in a call campaign.
Technology platforms, such as GeckoEngage, let you set-up more efficient clearing day processes that can drive greater numbers of students to choose your institution.
For example, get your Academics more involved by designing automatic systems where they’re prompted to call students who’ve received offers, helping to build the excitement around studying at your uni. Offer holders can be automatically assigned to the correct Academic and call outcomes and actions logged in the CRM for a more efficient process, making sure no information is lost along the way. This kind of Academic call activity has been an innovation used by GeckoEngage client University of Aberdeen and has contributed to converted students’ decision to study there.
Setting up more sophisticated processes also allows you to get ahead of the game on clearing open days. For example, you can set up workflows to automatically trigger relevant and timely communications about events and tours that will be happening throughout the day, related to that student’s chosen degree. From an experience perspective, the platform also allows students to take control over their own agenda for tours, seminars or meetings with academics and tutors by offering the ability to self-serve prior to and during the day, with access to information when and where they need it.
In addition, you could let a chatbot lighten your load by sifting out students who don’t fit the criteria before they spend time in call queues with your team. The great things about bots is that they can be deployed across all of your digital channels, whether it’s on your website, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or even direct text message. Once bots have taken all the necessary initial pieces of information from students, they can hand over to their human counterparts to make offers via live chat. This helps to significantly reduce the requirement for telephone conversations and splits the workload between bots and your clearing staff.
Alternatively, set a chatbot to kick in out of hours in the run up to clearing to field questions and give the student as much information as possible without the requirement for human intervention.
Taking these types of tech-enabled approaches to streamlining the clearing process for your staff means they get to spend more time – and crucially, better quality time – speaking to students that are the right fit for your university. It also means unsuccessful students aren’t wasting their time sitting in call queues.
4. Get comfy
It sounds obvious but physical discomfort at work can add stress to an already stressful day. Make sure you get comfy, for example, use a chair that doesn’t give you a sore back, have a headset that fits properly, bring a water bottle and snacks so they’re close to hand and, although it may be difficult, try and get up regularly to stretch your legs and get some fresh air. It’ll help you focus better throughout the day.
5. Dig in
You know it’s going to be a long, busy and often emotionally charged day. Dig in and use our tips to keep you on track but also, don’t forget the bigger picture here. It is you that will be there for students when they feel at their most vulnerable and when they have a life-changing decision to make. You’re the one helping them to make that decision, ensuring it is the best thing for both them and the university. The choices they make now, based on conversations they have with you, will shape a pivotal stage of their life and education. So, despite the stress, remember how worthwhile the job you do is and its significance in one of the most important stages of a student’s educational journey.
We’re here for you
Gecko customer and need help? No problem. So we can be there for you during your busiest time, online support on clearing day will be available from 6am until midnight. You can connect via your browser, from the Capture App, via email or phone on 0131 541 2296.