Artificial intelligence chatbot team focuses on student experience and needs
University of Phoenix is pleased to share the student support service record and evolution of the Phoebe® chatbot, its first ever virtual assistant, designed to serve as a 24/7 point of contact for students seeking information regarding their educational journey. In the three years since its launch, the chatbot has catered to over 500,000 chats coming from over 124,000 unique students, leveraging artificial intelligence (AI), Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Conversation Design to answer some of the most frequently asked questions from students around the clock. Phoebe was launched at full scale on June 16, 2021, and since then has fielded an average traffic of 1,700 chats per day.
“Here at University of Phoenix, we understand that today’s busy students are multitaskers – juggling work, family, and higher education,” states Jamie Smith, chief information officer of University of Phoenix. “Our chatbot team created Phoebe to understand that as well and continues to evolve its function to center student experience and priorities so that students can make efficient use of their time to quickly access resources or information at any point in their day or night.”
The chatbot team has created scenarios based on a student’s lifecycle and to give students responses specific to them. Quick questions like “What is my account balance?” can be accurately answered by Phoebe today. The team also leverages AI to connect the student to the right departments and a live agent so that users get to their first agent point of resolution.
By accessing Phoebe through their secure student portal, students have access to a variety of information, including:
- Making changes to their schedule
- Animated directions on how to access specific information on the student portal
- Articles written for students that answer common questions
- Credit balance statements; and
- Financial document status.
The chatbot team focuses on providing excellent support and service to students through a deep understanding of users. The Phoebe team frequently meets with students to learn how students experience the product in real-time and what features they find most useful.
Anna Terrell, a student in the Bachelor’s of Science in Elementary Education degree program, recently met with members of the team to share feedback. “I like Phoebe,” she shares. “I was pleasantly surprised with her very simple way, speed and accuracy.”
Cynthia Leimbach, Conversational/CX Designer at University of Phoenix, led that meeting. “The team works with best practices in Conversation Design such as Empathy, Brevity, GoodGreetings, and RuleofThree to make the bot engaging,” she shares. “Our team takes the approach to ‘walk a mile’ in every user’s shoes to co-create mindful and engaging dialogue that is on tone and aligned with how we support and talk with students across the university infrastructure.”
The team aspires to constantly work to add more user-centric capabilities while maintaining the existing quality of conversation. For example, the team is conducting a real-time experiment to make the AI-based chatbot proactive so that the university can engage with students when they are online and give students contextual guidance to successfully progress in their educational journey.
“The goal is to give our students what they are looking for when they want it,” states Richa Gupta, product manager, Self Service & Automation. “Our team is also working to integrate predictive models into Phoebe so that we can identify students who may need our support more than others by directing them to the right resources.”
The Phoebe® chatbot demonstrates how University of Phoenix leverages AI to provide excellent customer service, with a commitment to continuously evolve and improve the chatbot functionality.
About University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix is continually innovating to help working adults enhance their careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, and Career Services for Life® help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit phoenix.edu.