The Challenge

A network of colleges in Texas needed to answer questions about financial aid from over 60,000 students spread across multiple campuses. The inquiries were about a variety of financial aid topics, including FAFSA, federal student loan programs, verification and award information.

  • Each year from March – August, the main switchboard was inundated with over 10,000 financial aid calls a month.
  • The college network needed to handle the seasonal spikes in call volume efficiently without sacrificing student service.
  • A comprehensive agent training program was needed to improve efficiencies and responsiveness, which had been averaging below 50%.

Our Insights

Harte Hanks analyzed the reasons for student calls to determine trends and proactively prepare solutions.

We developed a strategy to promote the self-service portal which diverted students to the website for answers to simple questions.

The insights were designed to reduce customer effort and increase efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Our Approach

The Harte Hanks contact center team worked with the colleges to develop a solution that included:

  • Creating an agent performance assessment, documented college practices and customer service standards.
  • Training a dedicated team to handle inbound calls from all campuses.
  • Accessing the colleges’ database system so call center reps could proactively identify issues that could impact aid and address those concerns.
  • Gathering additional relevant input from callers.

The Results

As a result of this new contact center strategy, the colleges effectively responded to financial aid inquiries and gathered data to facilitate continuous improvement.

  • In one academic year, Harte Hanks agents handled over 80,000 calls with an efficiency level of 91.2% – an efficiency improvement of nearly 100%.
  • Results included a 75% decrease in students making multiple calls, dropping from 40,000 to an average of 5,000-15,000.
  • Customer service was improved through call center activity reporting, including agent performance.


Calls handled by agents


Efficiency level

75% decrease

Multiple calls by students

40,000 less

Calls to 5,000-15,000