11 February 2019
SMS integration sees improved communication with students
The Australian Institute of Personal Trainers (AIPT) is Australia’s leading provider of practical fitness education. Established in 1999, the company has grown to a network of over 100 campuses and over 250 mentors Australia-wide, becoming the largest national provider and leading employment network in the fitness education sector.
AIPT uses JobReady, which is software for educational education and training (VET) programs and employment services. This cloud-based student management system delivers operational efficiencies in its business through streamlining and automating operations and business processes. JobReady includes an integrated SMS functionality provided by MessageMedia, where SMS messaging is automated based on a system trigger or sent manually as required by the user.
Jan Parsons, eLearning Manager at AIPT, says AIPT has been using SMS for four years, and that “we’ve had great results with SMS and will continue to use it as a communication channel with students”.
Finding a more efficient way of communicating with students
Before SMS was implemented at AIPT, communication with students was predominately through phone calls and emails:
“We were looking for a communication alternative that is more effective than phone calls and emails,” says Parsons. “We found some students were not very responsive to emails, as they don’t check them very often.”
AIPT decided to incorporate SMS as a communication channel for student communication.
SMS is very effective because it has a 98 percent open rate and over 90 percent of messages are read within 90 seconds. It’s also an efficient form of communication and is platform agnostic. This means it doesn’t matter what type of mobile phone a student has, or how old it is, the message will always get through.
When considering MessageMedia as its SMS supplier, AIPT was clear about the criteria that had to be met:
- Functionality: sufficient functionality for AIPT’s requirements, such as integration with JobReady
- Cost: reasonably priced
- Ease of use: easy to set up and use
- Proven track record: good reviews and a proven track record
“In general we are really happy with the results we are getting from our SMS system, and highly satisfied with the way it integrates with JobReady,” said Parsons.
SMS is a particularly effective communication channel for students as 95 percent of 18-29-year olds say they use the text messaging feature on their phones, and these users send or receive an average of 88 text messages on a normal day.
Staff at AIPT use SMS when a student cannot be reached by phone — that is, if the student does not pick up the phone and there is no option to leave a voicemail.
Another example where SMS are commonly used is to follow up on emails or phone calls. “For example, a student support officer may book a coaching session time with a student,” says Parsons. “They will then follow that contact up with an SMS for confirmation and as a reminder.”
Studies have proven that implementing a proactive SMS confirmation or reminder program can significantly reduce the instance of missed appointments and help improve on time appointment attendance.
SMS leads to strong results and performance
Over the past few years AIPT has enjoyed strong business performance with an increase in student graduation and assessment submission rates.
“SMS has really supported our business growth through assisting with customer service levels. Our students definitely respond more readily to an SMS message — it’s very powerful. We also find it very useful that the messages can be automatically saved as a record in JobReady as evidence of communication,” says Parsons.
AIPT is achieving strong results in using the SMS system as a follow-up tool for communication with students, as well as using it to reach students they cannot contact by phone. Parsons says, “I certainly can say that using SMS has saved us time in terms of following up with students.”
Studies have found that students prefer to communicate via text and tend to respond better and faster to text messages because it is already their dominant means of communication.
“We find that SMS is a particularly effective communication channel when we need to follow something up with students, or to get information to them quickly,” said Parsons. “Although if we type the message too quickly, mistakes can get made, and so one future improvement we’d love to see is an auto-spelling and grammar check!”
“Overall we are very happy with our SMS system with MessageMedia and intend to continue using this SMS gateway that integrates so well with our JobReady student management system,” she concluded.