Maryville University, located in St. Louis, Missouri, was founded in 1872 and is one of the oldest private institutions in the Midwest. With a student population of 10,200, the student body is very diverse, coming from all 50 states and more than 58 countries.
The university’s vision is to be the innovative leader in higher education promoting a revolution in student learning that expands access and opportunities for all. In 2019, Maryville University teamed up with the AI-powered support automation platform Capacity to make its vision a reality by automating incoming inquiries, the staff’s processes, and student’s decisions.
Hiring a digital employee
Maryville University’s online program has been growing at a rate unlike other colleges in the U.S. To keep up with demand and ensure a top-notch experience for its students, leadership decided to introduce digital employees into their current workstreams. Maryville chose Capacity to operate as its digital platform and its first digital employee—Max.
Capacity’s first assignment—automating inquiries at Maryville University
The team at Capacity took a close look at Maryville’s current workflows, workstreams and processes to determine what could be automated. Max is a simple chatbot interface that Capacity added to Maryville’s orientation site to answer online students’ questions such as, “how can I contact my professor?” or “where is my syllabus?” The goal was to get students’ questions answered 24/7 without human intervention. Rather than emailing the professor or setting up an appointment with the teaching assistant, students could get their questions answered by Max. In just the first week, Max answered 40 student questions at a response rate of 2.7 seconds, giving insight into the category breakdown of students’ questions as an administrative bonus.
Process automation and student retention
Long term, Capacity plans to automate repetitive existing processes that consume a Student Advisor’s time, so they can focus on strategic projects and one-on-one meetings with students. For example, if a student needs to find a tutor for their Accounting course, they could interact with the Capacity bot, Max, to find out which tutors are available and set up an appointment without interacting with their Student Advisor.
Capacity is also tasked with identifying patterns within student data to determine which students are most likely to drop out of their online classes. For example, Capacity can determine common indicators of student dropouts and keep students enrolled in classes by intervening at just the right time.
Automating the best decisions
Once Capacity predicts the students who need more support, it jumps into action to help students make better decisions. For instance, if students who don’t log in to the orientation site within 5 days have a higher rate of dropping their courses, Capacity will intervene by sending emails and texts to remind the students to log in and stay focused on their courses. Capacity will also automatically send notifications to Student Advisors, so they can nudge the students as well. Capacity is proactively helping students stay the course from orientation to graduation.
Capacity helps Maryville University set the curve
Maryville University has high expectations for its first digital employee. Max Capacity will analyze and automate workflows, as well as answer repetitive questions from Maryville’s growing student population. By implementing Max, Maryville University will continue to meet and exceed the needs of its students and stay ahead of the curve.
Automating tasks and workflows provides Maryville University Student Advisors with more time to spend one-on-one time with students instead of fielding repetitive questions. Ultimately, Maryville University’s focus on automation will ensure that the institution is recognized as an innovative leader in higher education.
“Capacity has enabled us at Maryville to implement the first digital human life coaches in the United States, and also to begin working with and serving students 24/7, 365 days a year,” said Dr. Mark Lombardi, PhD, president of Maryville University, in a statement.
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