Adler University uses Olark live chat and Salesforce to boost masters and doctoral enrollment

How Adler admissions qualifies more high-quality prospects with live chat


Adler University is a private university specializing in master and doctoral programs in psychology and public policy. Their main campus is located in Chicago, Illinois with a second campus in Vancouver, British Columbia, and they also offer online classes and degree programs.

Adler’s admissions team was dissatisfied with using a third-party call center to qualify their potential leads, finding that the center often didn’t have enough specialized knowledge to hone in on high-quality prospects. They wanted to put website visitors in touch with Adler staff who could answer questions more specifically about requirements and how to apply.

They considered five live chat tools, looking for something easy to train on and simple to implement. Based on these criteria and a recommendation from another higher education institution, they selected Olark live chat for their qualification process. Adler features Olark on all their admissions pages and advertising content, and recently hit one year and one thousand chats.

Illinois-based Adler University continues the pioneering work of the first community psychologist Alfred Adler by graduating socially responsible practitioners, engaging communities, and advancing social justice.

Illinois, USA

Adler’s three admissions specialists manage Olark live chat for the university, fielding lead inquiries for their Chicago, Vancouver, and online campuses. Typically they see about 15 chats per day. They serve as the first point of contact on Adler’s website, guiding visitors to the right campus and program via chat, and eventually connecting them with a counselor who can call them and guide them through the application process. The admissions specialists also use Olark to follow up with old leads that may still be exploring schools. Alie Kiral, admissions engagement manager, says, “I refer to us as the net below the ball pit. So we’re helping get students to the correct place.”
Key Olark features used:
Salesforce Integration
Adler uses Salesforce to house their student records, application materials, and other data. When using Olark, their Salesforce integration will also alert them if there is any previous history with a visitor. Kiral explains, “If a student already has a record—like they've already inquired about Adler—that Salesforce link pops up when they chat us, which we love. So we can just open it and see, have they already talked to somebody here? Have they emailed us before? That historical data pops right up.” They also track new leads from Olark within Salesforce and store any chat transcripts within a student’s record so that other staff who may work with the lead, like counselors, can see the big picture.

One of the admissions’ team’s favorite features is Olark’s Shortcuts, pre-saved responses that can be programmed in by a team or individual and called up in a few keystrokes. They find it especially useful for questions outside their domain. Kiral remarks, “[We get] a lot of, "How do I log into my Adler Connect?’ for our portal. We have a Shortcut for IT, where it will send them: ‘email Adler Helpdesk.’ And we have a Shortcut for tuition, for campus scholarships, program Shortcuts for each of our programs. Yeah, we love the Shortcuts!”

Adler’s operations team uses reports to track chat response times and other performance metrics, while admissions reviews reports to discuss progress and iteration with individual team members. 

In addition to storing chat transcripts in student Salesforce records, Adler also reviews transcripts to understand where they did well in their communication techniques and where they can improve. “We do find that that is really helpful,” Kiral says. “I think that helps everybody to see each other’s techniques and things that worked and didn’t work for people.”

The admissions team uses tags to track how many questions they are getting from third parties, such as parents and friends, or questions unrelated to their departments.
Since using Olark, Adler University has seen higher quality leads and increased enrollment. Out of 1,201 chats so far since launch, Adler has seen about 35% of their chat activity tie back directly to applicants. They have converted 141 contacts into leads and supported 290 existing students! With the ability to quickly connect students to the right resources and contacts, the admissions team is able to qualify and convert at higher rates. They can also help direct anyone interacting with their school, whether it be a student with a registration issue or a parent with a concern. As well, their Salesforce integration gives the whole team a full view into prospects and current students, both during chats and within their records.

Adler has not only met their goal of qualifying better leads, they have also opened up a new channel for all their website visitors to quickly get questions answered. Kiral shares, “More than once, we’ve heard that [students] are really appreciative that we have a chat, especially folks that are sometimes frustrated that we are only available from a typical nine to five [schedule]. So I’m really grateful to be able to just quickly answer their questions.”

For the Adler admission’s team, Olark live chat and Salesforce also make a great pairing to connect with prospects and students, unifying their conversations. Sometimes their knowledge of students can be downright uncanny! Kiral reflects, “The system that we have is pretty seamless. We can say, ‘Oh, I see you talked to so and so yesterday!’ […] Some students say, ‘Oh my gosh, wow, you guys are really holistic. You guys really work together as a team.’” Sounds like a great first impression that might affect a student’s decision to attend Adler.

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"In general, enrollment's been up at our university at a time where higher ed has been struggling. We've been really, really happy with the types of leads we've been getting from Olark, which was not generally the case with the third-party company that we used. If I anecdotally had to say, I would say probably a good 90% of our questions are lead-generating or existing lead questions and chats. Which is really incredible. [Chat was] something where we were like, let's try it and see if it works. And I would say at this point, it's an integral part of our team and what we do."

Alie Kiral,Admissions Engagement Manager

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