Whether you’ve had trouble navigating the Career Center’s website or simply need to find answers to your financial aid questions, Miss Rev is here to help through a new chatbot option.
The chatbot was created by Ivy.ai, a company that works with around 100 universities and colleges nationwide. Work on both the Career Center and Financial Aid Department’s chatbots began in the spring of 2018. While the Career Center’s chatbot went live in January, the Financial Aid Department has officially moved Miss Rev out of the testing phase this August, in hopes of helping students more efficiently during the start of the semester.
The idea for its creation originally came from Assistant Director for Financial Aid and Class of 2011 Melissa Mallett Bohnsack. Mallet Bohnsack said she submitted a proposal for the artificially intelligent chatbot to the Office of Academic Affairs for their Big Idea contest. Since winning the competition, Mallet Bohnsack has received funding for Miss Rev and become the program coordinator of the project.
Miss Rev allows parents and students to locate information on the Financial Aid Department’s website and the Career Center’s website with less difficulty, while reducing the onslaught of emails the department gets about information that can be found on the website.
“Students and parents would go to our website and wouldn’t necessarily know ‘is this about applying for aid?’ or ‘is this about processing my aid?’” Mallett Bohnsack said. “They just wouldn’t know where to find the information. That’s been the biggest thing with Miss Rev, she helps find the information without having to know where to exactly click.”
In March, Miss Rev was live on the Financial Aid Department’s website but is now fully functional and prepared to aid students with their questions.
“Students may have already interacted with her; it’s very possible.” Mallet Bohnsack said. “We’ve had, since she went live, a little over 9,600 conversations — which is a lot. When she went live, she could only answer 700 different questions because we just tested her and built her brain up. She’s artificially intelligent so the more people use her, the smarter she becomes. So, if she doesn’t the answer to a question today, she’ll know it tomorrow.”
Vice President of Sales and Business Development at Ivy.ai Mary Frances Coryell has been the point of contact for the Ivy partnership throughout the project and said students should view Miss Rev as an all-hours resource.
“It’s about bringing 24/7 service to the students of Texas A&M,” Coryell said. “The ability for students to self-serve at 10 o’clock at night or not in a class or not at an event and they are trying to get something done, they now have access to a customer service rep 24/7. That, to me, is huge.”
Mallet Bohnsack said her motivation for implementing Miss Rev in the Financial Aid Department was to give students the best chance at attaining higher education.
“I think that for someone to receive a higher education, it changes the whole trajectory of their life,” Mallet Bohnsack said. “One of the barriers to access higher education is information. I know the information is there for students and parents to find but when the information is not easy to find or access its creates another barrier. So I started looking for ways to improve the website and what I was looking for specifically was finding ways that we communicate the information and the ways we can help students find the information.”
According to Mallet Bohnsack, the Financial Aid Department hopes to add more features to Miss Rev such as email responses. Coryell said in the future, Miss Rev’s technology is likely to expand into other departments, as other offices have come to Ivy.ai with interest in a chatbot.