17 July 2017
Clearing is now as much a part of the A-level results day ritual as the pictures of young people jubilantly leaping into the air that flood the news. It’s so commonplace that record numbers of students now find a university this way, with 33,000 students going through the process in 2016.
That’s a huge peak in call traffic, the kind of demand that puts a huge strain on university telephony systems. It’s gotten to the point that some institutions are finding new, creative ways to ease the pressure – and some are even skipping Clearing altogether.
De Montfort University Leicester, for example, is accepting Clearing applications before results are even in. Students can meet specialist advisors to discuss their options, and could even have an offer long before they find out their grades in August.
In addition, IT teams investing in the right infrastructure can ensure they have a robust telephony system that easily copes with the surge in demand come results day.
Choosing a solution that lets you scale to meet demand quickly
Scaling telecoms infrastructure up to meet the temporary demands of Clearing is going to be tricky if you’re using traditional telephony. It’ll require significant investment in hardware and physical ISDN lines. The fact that this kind of provision will be done under contract will sting in the long term, as once traffic returns to a normal level you’ll be stuck with all the extra lines you spent so much money on. This approach also relies on you accurately anticipating the increase in demand in advance – additional lines must be in place ready for Clearing and don’t offer the flexibility needed to be able to meet any additional capacity requirements on the day.
Replacing your ISDN with next generation alternatives SIP trunking or a hosted platform, however, will let you be flexible in a way that is both cost efficient and logistically viable. Voice capacity can be scaled up and down when necessary. Lines can easily be added with a simple software configuration, and removed once Clearing is over. These IP-based services also allow you to only pay for what you need, when you need it, making costs more manageable in the long run.
Giving students a great Clearing experience
This technology doesn’t just provide better traffic management. With the solution in place, universities can provide a better call service to young people when they go through the Clearing process.
A number of functions and features can set up, such as separate inbound numbers, or an additional IVR, so that Clearing calls get directed to the correct faculty, with no impact on regular non-Clearing phone traffic.
Crucially, the technology enables an effective call queuing service. Recorded messages updating students on their progress can reduce call abandonment and guarantee that students have a positive experience throughout the entire Clearing call experience.
What can you do now?
With huge numbers of students likely to bombard Clearing lines this year, university telephony systems need to be able to cope. That’s why we introduced our ‘Hosted for Clearing’ solution. Institutions get temporary access to Horizon, our cloud-hosted telephony platform, so they can instantly scale up their phone operation during the Clearing period. No on-site hardware is required, soft clients can be easily installed on PCs for agents to use with headsets and as it is charged on a per-usage basis, you only pay for what you need.
Find more information on how you can prepare your University for Clearing here.
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17 July 2017 | Sam Winterbottom
The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.