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Use Your Contact Center to Better Support Students

Kevork Hill
Kevork Hill Five9 Content Strategy Intern

The pandemic and the resulting reliance on distance learning added new technology challenges for many in higher education. While several universities have long provided options for remote attendance, the scale multiplied exponentially for many in 2020.

Along with the changes came increased reliance on contact centers to support students, faculty, and surrounding communities. In fact, Intervision reports that an estimated 70% of education IT leaders reported increased IT tickets and call volume during the pandemic. According to the Harvard Business Review, changes to the university business model were long overdue. The pandemic served as a forcing function to get universities to dedicate more than the previous 5% of their budgets to IT spending. Universities had not funded their IT teams to match the growing amount of help needed from students, parents, and staff.

New challenges call for modern solutions. It is essential for universities to upgrade their contact centers to improve the experience of their communities.

In a world where information can be had in an instant, it is important for universities to provide the same capabilities. While many universities have call centers with hours of operation, it’s vital to give students the ability to access information at any given time, through a variety of channels. For example, tools such as Five9 Intelligent Voice Response (IVR) allow the ability to engage your students, alumni, and other members of your community from anywhere.

Education service expectations are at an all-time high and the want for real-time care options is growing. Five9 Omnichannel Mobile lets you deliver exceptional digital-first service to students on the move. With visual IVR, you can reduce opt-outs and transfers by turning long and complex IVR prompts into a visual, app-like mobile experience. Students reach their answers faster and your operations become more efficient without more staff.

“I would absolutely recommend Five9 to anyone that needs a power dialer or complex IVRs, but most importantly to companies that want to connect with their customers and make them feel like their needs are being met.”
-Jonathan Harrell, Regent University

Five9 also offers custom and pre-built integrations with leading Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions like Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, ServiceNow, and Zendesk. By implementing Five9 integrations, you can easily leverage the power of Five9 while maximizing your existing investments, increasing staff productivity, enhancing the student user experience, and giving your organization a competitive advantage. Using Five9 CRM integrations will also equip staff and their supervisors with rich student data, history, and information to transform the student experience with every inbound or outbound interaction.

Below, find out more about how Five9 helped multiple universities upgrade their contact centers—ultimately improving the student experience and efficiency—all while supporting growth.

Regent University

Regent University is a faith-based institution of higher learning based in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Its student enrollment has doubled within the last five years to more than 11,000 with 70% attending as online students. The university’s IT department is responsible for running the contact center, which employs 300 agents who handle more than 40,000 calls per week.

Regent University leadership set large growth goals that required the call center to take more calls and respond faster to online inquiries. Since its on-premises solution was incapable of scaling and integrating with its Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the university turned to a cloud-based solution. With Five9, the contact center was able to go from an average of 10,000 calls per week to 25,000 within two weeks of implementation. That volume has since increased to 100,000 calls per week.

Five9 also enables the contact center to use chat, email, and voice on both inbound and outbound interactions. Admissions, financial aid, and advisors can all communicate with students on their channel of choice using a single platform.

“We were looking for a cloud-based solution and an organization that could grow with us. That’s where Five9 came in,” says Jonathan Harrell, the university’s assistant vice president of IT. “With Five9, we were able to double the amount of calls without having to increase our staff. Moving to the cloud was easy.”

Learn more in this case study, University Doubles its Call Volume without Adding Staff.

The University of Akron

Located in Ohio, The University of Akron enrolls around 20,000 undergraduate students. And all those students rely on an IT help desk staffed by 50 technicians and the university switchboard. With the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, the university faced the challenge of taking these teams remote.

Akron needed a new, cloud-based contact center solution that could enable its IT help desk to take remote tickets and provide a way for the agents working the switchboard to take calls. Five9 worked closely with partner Continuant to deploy a cloud-based contact center solution in just a couple of days.

To get the contact center up and running quickly, the team recommended that the university leverage its existing IVR system for the first phase of the solution, then implement a queued callback capability in the next phase.

To further boost the university’s collaboration capabilities, Continuant will be installing a new Microsoft Teams solution with Five9 integration. With its advanced videoconferencing and voice functionality, Teams will help facilitate communication and collaboration for students and faculty alike.

To find out more, read University Goes Remote Over the Weekend.

Southern New Hampshire University

A private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on campus students, Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) has over 90,000 online students globally and an alumni network exceeding 100,000, making it one of the fastest-growing universities in the United States.

The University’s call center has 1,300 agents working both inbound and outbound to address admissions, financial aid, and academic advisory services. Each department has agents assigned to handle its particular function.

Everything SNHU does goes toward benefiting its students. Some of the challenges they’ve faced include disconnected customer experience, lack of integrations, and an on-premises contact center. Since partnering with Five9 in 2010, SNHU has become more proactive rather than reactive. As a result, SNHU now uses built-in API integrations with Salesforce Lightning and the university’s SIS systems to deliver automated screen pops to help agents access caller information.

“We have over 1,300 concurrent users logging into Five9 at any point in time,” says SNHU’s Alex Montenegro. “We've made leaps and bounds in terms of how we utilize the technology. Being able to use it a lot more intelligently, a lot more proactively rather than reactive.” To learn more, watch this video:


According to the Harvard Business Review, machine learning, SMS messaging, and AI are having a growing impact in optimizing student services and support. Five9 solutions leverage these technologies to help improve customer experience, regardless of industry. With this, it is ever so important to update your contact centers.

Learn More

Explore more about Five9 solutions for education and check out our video on How to Improve Your Higher Education Contact Center.

Kevork Hill
Kevork Hill Five9 Content Strategy Intern

Call 1-800-553-8159 to learn more about Five9