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AfterSchool’s SleekHack:
Getting closer to students with WhatsApp API

In Hong Kong, getting a private tutor after school is a general consensus, if not a must. In the last decade, it was not surprising to see many giant billboards featuring the popular tutors shining on the busy streets as if they were superstars or singers. The competition is indeed fierce up till now. 

Recently, multiple online learning platforms have emerged. The downside of online teaching is the lack of face-to-face interactions. Parents and students might have a second thought about adopting this new learning mode. 

Ronald, the founder of AfterSchool, has however proved the opposite. Within just two years, AfterSchool has become one of the largest online tutoring platforms in Hong Kong accumulating up to 50,000 registered users. The flexibility of online private tutorials has disrupted the industry, allowing students to learn anytime, anywhere.

To thrive in this crowded education industry, AfterSchool has taken up an innovative approach to engaging with its students and boosting their loyalty.

S: What is the edge of an online education platform compared to a physical learning center?

RT: During the COVID-19 outbreak, students preferred to stay home. Even before the COVID era, very often the students and teachers did not interact with each other due to the large class size. An online learning platform can fill this flaw while students feel safer maintaining social distancing.

S: Why did you choose SleekFlow?

RT: Most of our customers are high school students who rarely use email. Therefore, email marketing is not a way out. Besides, students are likely to miss out on some notice if we simply email the information to them. WhatsApp is obviously the most commonly used app. That’s why we were seeking a tool that can do WhatsApp automation or an API to connect with our backend system for sending transactional messages to the student. Here comes SleekFlow.

S: What was the workflow before SleekFlow?

RT: Before using SleekFlow, each tutor had their own WhatsApp account and they were responsible for their own conversations. It became difficult for tutors to manage as the inquiries from students kept increasing. The response time was way too long and tutors tended to overlook the messages.

“With SleekFlow, now we can assign tutor assistants to co-own the WhatsApp conversations with each student while the tutor can still manage the WhatsApp account. This significantly reduces the response time. ”

S: What is your favorite function of SleekFlow?

RT: There are two. The first one is automation. I can say 50-60% of the questions from our students are more or less the same. Setting automatic replies to those FAQs can solve most problems already. This saves a lot of manpower and students can get their answers right away. 

The second one is the contact list. It helps us to do segmentation, kind of like a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) System. By segments, we can send the right messages to the right students. For instance, we can send some free trials to the students who have just registered.

S: How does WhatsApp improve your interactions?

RT: Since we are not a physical learning center, we strive to interact with our students through different means. Our team was kind of creative when it comes to WhatsApp Business API’s automation. We created some multiple-choice quizzes and sent them to our students through WhatsApp. Once they replied, an automatic reply showing the answers and explanation would be triggered accordingly. Students are highly motivated in this gamify tutorial but of course, they can choose to unsubscribe. That’s another automatic rule you can set via SleekFlow.

S: What tips can you share for businesses to build rapport with Gen-Zs?

RT: To get close with the students, we have to speak their language and understand their popular culture. Although it has nothing to do with learning, it is the secret of building a good relationship with the youngsters.

“We use WhatsApp to contact our students, but it should not be regarded as merely an announcement board or customer service chatroom. We treat our students as friends, and that’s how we make the students trust AfterSchool. ”
Ronald Tse/ AfterSchool Founder

S: What kind of business would you recommend using SleekFlow?

RT: As an educator, I often contact many parents and students, SleekFlow makes it easier for us to manage incoming messages. AfterSchool is a consumer-oriented business (B2C) with a large number of customers. I think it is highly beneficial to those in the service sector and need to chat with customers a lot.

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