Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms are powerful tools for higher education. If you are looking for a solution that can help your institution increase efficiency and improve student relationships, CRM systems might be perfect for your school.
What Is a CRM?
A CRM platform is a virtual solution that helps businesses organize and automate interactions with their target audience at every step of the customer journey.
Many higher education institutions also use CRMs to engage with their students. They track essential data to improve every step of their student’s life cycle, from interest as prospective students to alumni communications. While their primary purpose is to educate students, they have many business operations to fulfill and customers to serve, from students to parents, staff members and partnering employers.
CRM solutions will sort and house all of a school’s contact points in one place for increased access and visibility. Here, executives, administration, professors and other staff members can view relevant information from their institutions, including website, department pages and social media platforms. Further, it will organize and make student information available to approved parties, such as:
- Student names
- Educational background
- Contact information, like phone number and email
- Social media interactions and activity
This kind of student data can help professors and administration better understand each student, allowing them to make more personalized and customized content geared toward their interests and needs. Institutions can take a more proactive approach to guide students. For example, access to their educational history might show that the student is struggling in their classes, allowing the school and their professors to get them help.
What Do Institutions Use CRMs For?
Higher education institutions can use the functions provided by customer relationship management systems in many ways. All processes will lead back to the main goals of CRMs — to improve the student experience in some way. Because colleges and universities can interact with students in several ways and at many different stages, CRMs can handle many unique uses, including:
- Engaging with interested students: Potential students like schools that send them information about their interests — it helps show that the institution sees them as a possible member of their community and values what they can add to it. CRMs make it easy to create personalized and customized content you can send right to prospective students. You can help develop your relationship with potential students, helping them understand what resources, programs and facilities meet their standards.
- Boosting student retention rates: Retention is an essential part of student and institution success. Student retention helps ensure that students are getting the resources and experience they want and need from your school, and many schools aim to raise their retention rates. CRM software can track when in the life cycle students leave your school, helping target areas of improvement. Further, by engaging with student data and tracking trends, it can highlight when students become a risk of dropping out.
- Promoting events: Campus events are diverse and target many different groups. Your school might host information sessions for high school students visiting, shows and entertainment for your student body, fundraisers aimed at alumni and research conferences for your professors. CRMs can help organize information, ensuring that the right audiences receive promotions and updates. The increased connectivity and communication fostered by CRMs can provide all involved departments and individuals access to the same information about the event.
When you understand how higher education institutions can use CRM solutions, you can plan how you might implement it into your processes and initiatives.
The Importance of CRM in Higher Education
Higher education institutions are very competitive. While schools have the power to admit students based on their applications and qualifications, students are the ones who make the final decision between the schools they get into. Many colleges and universities try to highlight niches, hoping they can attract students looking for a specific program or experience.
Technology and tools can also help give schools the competitive edge they need to thrive in the industry. Higher education CRM software can provide you with essential insights and data that you need to make stronger decisions related to admissions and marketing campaigns, helping you target potential students and maintain their interest longer. Because CRM software tracks the entire length of the student life cycle, you can better understand why students might lose interest by seeing when they stop interacting with your school.
Many factors go into a student’s decision to choose one school over another. While many seek out a specific academic program, many others select their higher education institution for the experience it offers. Regardless of their reasons, students want to feel part of a community, and connections on campus can help raise student retention. CRM for higher education can help you identify what is important to each student, allowing faculty and staff to make more meaningful connections about their interests and needs.
Further, CRMs allow you to look at individual students or different campus populations. You can address the needs of specific students or help various campus communities thrive by managing their problems and values. This kind of feature makes it possible to serve more students.
The Benefits of CRM in Higher Education
With so many different functions and capabilities for higher education institutions, your school can experience several benefits when using a CRM solution. These perks are great if you want to grow your processes or services specifically, helping your school improve.
1. Increase Efficiency
Multiple CRM features can help your higher education institution boost its efficiency. CRM solutions offer automation, allowing it to handle essential daily tasks for your administrative staff, faculty and professors. Automation has several perks for higher education institutions.
With automized features, you can offer faster services that your students have come to expect in the age of technology. For example, you can program your CRM to remind staff automatically when they have unanswered messages or upcoming meetings, allowing them to improve response time and memory. Additionally, you can send out pre-programmed responses to general questions, so your students can get answers sooner. Further, your staff can shift its focus to other tasks that require their full attention, like working with students.
While automation helps boost communication efficiency, it eliminates manual processes, allowing for a paperless approach. You can experience more organized offices and databases, where your CRM automatically sorts and stores information accordingly. Faculty and staff can find data more efficiently without rifling through papers and filing cabinets for specific information sets.
2. Allow More Accessibility, Visibility and Consistency
In addition to increased efficiency in finding information, CRM systems help boost data accessibility and visibility. CRMs incorporate a centralized database to house information where all departments and faculty can access information. With all data stored in the same place, departments and teams can easily receive and use the information they need for research, reports or decisions.
Previously, individuals might have had to request what they needed from departments, waiting long periods for teams to put together reports that might not contain all the information they needed. CRMs give everyone access to the same data, so they can each use it without distracting teams with information requests or lengthening projects longer than they need. Again, CRMs contribute to the overall efficiency of your faculty and staff.
Access to the same information across departments boosts stronger communication and visibility. When everyone has access to data, teams and departments can make smarter decisions backed by up-to-date information reflecting school needs and problems.
Data also become more reliable — automation helps eliminate the possibility of errors and commissions caused by manual information processing. When the same information is available to everyone, your faculty and staff can feel more sure that the data used in reports and presentations are accurate.
3. Provides Essential Insights
CRM for higher education institutions can provide schools with many types of information that they can use to spark decisions and changes. Innovative technology like these solutions can help highlight essential trends based on current and historical data it has stored in its database.
For example, if you want to help boost student retention, your CRM can analyze data about previous students who left your school before graduating. It can evaluate the different factors that might have led to that decision, from grades and campus involvement to student background. Using this information, you can draw conclusions and help highlight students who are at risk of dropping out.
CRMs can also track where data comes from, allowing you to develop a better understanding of your student population and target audience. For example, if you want to create a more robust marketing campaign, your CRM solution can tell you where potential students are discovering your school. Some might only interact with your school via social media, while others are searching for your website and reading on different pages. This kind of information can help you make content that provides each marketing segment with essential content that will help draw them to your school.
4. Integrates With Other Programs
CRM for colleges and universities is often compatible with other technological solutions, allowing for more seamless integration into your existing infrastructure. Your solution will work with your communication systems, like email, direct messaging and calendars to help automate responses and track student interactions.
Your CRM system can even work alongside your accounting and financial systems, helping pull vital data that you can use to back decisions and initiatives.
5. Creates Personalized and Customized Content
One significant benefit of using a CRM solution at your higher education institution is its ability to create personalized and customized content aimed at your students.
Personalized content allows you to address each student, even when sending out information to larger groups. Automation can help add names and other personal data to shared information to help students feel seen and valued as members of your campus community. Whether sending out information via email or letters, personalized content is a small detail that can help students feel more connected to your school.
On the other hand, customized content allows you to share information with your students based on their needs and interests. Like personalized content, customized content can help communicate to your students that you care about them.
Best CRMs for Higher Education
Choosing the right CRM solution is essential. While there are many CRM providers, some design CRM for universities and colleges specifically, allowing for more tailored solutions that can serve your faculty and student population.
Slate by Technolutions is a CRM solution designed specifically for admissions and enrollment departments. You can better target potential students with increased personalization features as they research and show interest in your school. Send them messages with their name and include information about their desired academic programs or social experiences. While Slate focuses on admissions and enrollment, its personalization features extend beyond potential students, extending throughout the student lifecycle to alumni relations.
With Slate, you can highlight what makes your school unique and improve your admissions and enrollment process.
Salesforce is a top-rated CRM service that many organizations across industries utilize to help them connect with their audiences. This solution offers Salesforce Education Cloud for Higher Ed, which serves as a more specified tool targeted at higher education institutions. Its specific architecture allows you to connect and track students throughout the student life cycle, allowing you to form better relationships with students at every stage.
Like Slate and Salesforce, developers designed the Ellucian Suite for colleges and universities. It benefits educators and institutions by helping decrease administrative costs and increasing efficiency throughout and across departments. Like many other CRM services, it engages with students throughout the student lifecycle, helping form meaningful connections on- and off-campus.
Ellucian is excellent for increasing connectivity across departments, including:
- Alumni organizations
- Campus activities boards
- Financial aid offices
This communication and connection can allow you to offer better services to your students, meaning departments work together to develop comprehensive and deep relationships with students.
How Can Ferrilli Help?
Ferrilli offers comprehensive CRM consultation services to higher education institutions. Our consultants can provide you with support for the best CRMs, including Slate, Salesforce and the Ellucian Suite. They’ll give you advice about how to optimize your CRM, helping ensure you can form the best relationships with your students and alumni.
Consultants can also help you through technical tasks. Whether you need help updating your system, navigating new features or importing older data into your new system, our consultants can guide you through processes efficiently to get your program functioning quickly.
Trust Ferrilli CRM Consultants With Your CRM Optimization Needs
While understanding the benefits and functions of a CRM for higher education institutions is vital, investing in the right care for your equipment can help you optimize its uses. Ferrilli consultants can help you manage your CRM functions to ensure you are getting the full benefits from your system.
Ferrilli has been working with higher education institutions for 20 years, allowing us to understand their unique demands and needs. We can offer your 24/7 services, so you can always reach us when you have a problem. Discover how Ferrilli can help you optimize your CRM solution and call or contact us today!