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  • Writer's pictureConny Chavez

CPP to introduce Live Chat feature this spring semester

Cal Poly Pomona’s Academic Affairs and Information Technology divisions are creating a Live Chat feature to facilitate more efficient communication between students and departments. The Live Chat feature is expected to be released this spring semester.

“We’re working on a streamlining processes training, forms online, automating more, getting transfer credit processed quicker,” said the senior associate vice president for enrollment management and services in the Division of Academic Affairs, Jessica Wagoner. “It may sound like little things here and there, but the more we can automate our processes the more we can spend time talking with students about the individual case because there’s certain things you can’t automate.”

Wagoner is active in the development of the Live Chat feature; she noted how challenging it has been to move into a virtual environment.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CPP’s offices have turned to new virtual methods to offer services to students. However, according to administrators Jessica Wagoner and Terri Gomez, these methods have been difficult on both staff and students as it is challenging to maintain an efficient communication remotely. The Live Chat feature intends to ease the stress of staff and students attempting to reach departments with questions.

“This will allow participating colleges or departments to place the chat functionality on their website,” said Ben Quillian III, associate vice president and deputy chief information officer.

The Live Chat feature will allow students to talk to artificial intelligence with limited programmed answers. Once the student asks the AI a more specified question that it cannot answer, students will automatically be redirected to a representative that will assist them. This new feature will allow the departments to focus on more sensitive and higher priority cases.

Students have voiced their frustration this semester regarding the lack of accessibility of some administrative departments on social media and the CPP subreddit. Some students claim to have never received a response to their emails, but others suggest that this lack of response has been an issue long before the switch to a virtual environment.

Ben Rucker, fourth-year geology student, lost an opportunity for his preferred housing two years ago because he faced communication issues with the financial aid office.

“Every time I called, I had to wait 40 to 50 minutes on the phone. It was very difficult to actually reach them. In mid-July they told me everything was good, but when it came to September, they told me my financial aid hadn’t been processed yet; I was missing paperwork,” said Rucker. “My goal wasn’t to live on campus, but no one wanted to sign any leases with me because I didn’t have any proof of financial aid.”

Associate Provost Sep Eskandari assured that the difficulty for students to reach departments and the time for processing cases and documents is an active topic of discussion within the Division of Academic Affairs as well as with top-level administrators, including President Soraya Coley.

“We recognize that the services need to be there for students and to ensure the resources are available to continue this, to meet the needs of the students,” said Eskandari. “Recognizing that we went into this mode without any prior planning and recognizing that all of the work that has to be done with this, so, we are adjusting and adapting as quickly as we can.”

CPP’s Admissions Office currently offers different virtual methods which students may use in case they need any assistance.

Terri Gomez, associate provost for student success in equity and innovation, works alongside the Bronco Advising Center to develop academic support and advising for students.

“Every afternoon we have e-services available, students can drop-in and get immediate help. We are working with IT to try to solve problems and make it easier for students,” said Gomez. “We have AI that is department specific and a website that helps direct students better. It helps students get the information without having to talk to a live person and get frustrated.”

The Bronco Advising Center currently offers e-student services in which students are able to join drop-in advising via Zoom. CPP students are able to talk to BAC advisors, financial aid and scholarships staff members, as well as registrar’s office staff via Zoom from Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“This virtual environment has been really challenging you know, especially moving as quickly as CPP did,” said Wagoner. “I just want to assure all of the students that we hear them, and we are working on a multichain to improve our customer service. Our goal is to tend to students’ questions as gracious and as quickly as possible.”

For more information on virtual advising and resources, visit the student success central website.

(Originally published in The Poly Post.)

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