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How to Engage Students with Live Chat

By Corey Snow June 22, 2020

This blog was updated on August 21, 2020.

How Arizona State University went from zero to Live Chat in just one week.

When the pandemic hit, many college and university students were left scrambling to find other living and learning options. International students have the added hurdles of travel and logistical arrangements, which quickly became both urgent and more complex to navigate. Arizona State University (ASU) needed to quickly increase the level of support for its diverse student community. To do so, it turned to Live Chat to reach students quickly and efficiently.

Frank Montoya, Salesforce Information Technology Manager for the University Technology Office “Salesfort” at Arizona State University, went in depth on how they successfully implemented this solution.

Frank Montoya with Salesforce CTO for Customer Connection, Charlie Isaacs at the ASU “Salesfort” in January 2020.

Frank Montoya with Salesforce CTO for Customer Connection, Charlie Isaacs at the ASU “Salesfort” in January 2020. | Credit: Corey Snow

Salesforce: In the case of the ASU International Students and Scholars Center (ISSC), how were the students impacted by COVID-19?

Frank Montoya (FM): The ISSC provides comprehensive support, advisement, and advocacy for more than 10,000 ASU international students, scholars, and faculty, including immigration support. Our international community has been particularly disrupted by the crisis, and was in need of higher levels of service. The experience had to be more than just waiting in line—our international community needed real time service.

Arizona State University has a large international student population

Salesforce: How many business units does ASU have on Salesforce Service Cloud?

FM: We have more than 117 business units across ASU that are supporting ASU constituents using Service Cloud.

Salesforce: That’s amazing! The timeline was very tight for this deployment. COVID-19 must have been placing a lot of additional demands on your team. How did you approach the engagement with ISSC?

FM: Our technology team had a mature process in place for engaging with business units on campus to deploy new capabilities on the Salesforce platform. In a pre-crisis era, this project may have taken three to four weeks. We did not cut any corners — we accelerated our established design & build process to deliver an essential capability very quickly. We were able to engage with ISSC and propose a Live Chat solution within 48 hours.

High-level timeline: from zero to Live Chat in one week!

Salesforce: For your education colleagues who are inspired by your story to implement Live Chat, what advice would you offer to shorten their paths to success?

FM: We benefited from prior investments in establishing a scalable and flexible foundational architecture and change management processes. Live Chat provides solid “out-of-the-box” functionality. Our minimum viable product in this case was about 90% out of the box and 10% custom configuration.

“The Salesforce Live Chat deployment went so quickly because of good out of box functionality and clear communication with a committed stakeholder” -Michael Blimbaum, ASU Salesforce Administrator



The ASU Salesforce IT Team | Credit: Frank Montoya

Salesforce: Deploying Live Chat in one week is an amazing achievement for your team and your campus partners at ISSC. What are you seeing in terms of usage and impact?

FM: In just the first 10 weeks, the ISSC team engaged in over 3,000 chats with their international community. The average chat session is 13 minutes long. A survey option is provided to students after the chat. The majority rate the speed of resolving their issue as “Excellent,” which confirms that students are very satisfied with the response time provided by Live Chat. Ultimately, our international students and scholars are spending less time waiting in line for essential services, and more importantly, they are not waiting in line, which keeps everyone safe.

“The chat button has been so successful so far. It’s allowed our staff to significantly cut down our phone and voicemail use during this time. I see this as only expanding as we continue.” – Drew Ross, Associate Director, International Students Scholars Center

Learn more about Salesforce Live Chat, and how to provide Student Services with Salesforce Education Cloud on Trailhead.

Frank Montoya, Salesforce Information Technology Manager, Arizona State University

Frank Montoya, Salesforce Information Technology Manager, Arizona State University

With over 12 years of experience in education IT, Frank is responsible for managing the Enterprise Salesforce Administrator and Development teams to facilitate application support and innovative Salesforce solutions for stakeholders university wide. Frank is also co-creator of The Pod Cache podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @frankmontoy5

Corey Snow, Director, Education Industry Solutions at

Corey Snow, Director, Education Industry Solutions at

Corey enables educational institutions to thrive by embracing and leveraging the power of CRM technology and Education Cloud. He previously served as CRM Strategist and Solution Architect at Harvard University, partnering with 40+ teams spanning 8 Schools to foster cross-campus collaboration and shared success with the Salesforce platform and ecosystem.