Higher education institutions are experiencing a major shift in the way they interact and communicate with their customers, viz., students, parents, alumni, donors, employers, as well as, staff members. Earlier in the eighties and nineties, many colleges and universities resorted to restructuring their operation processes to cut costs and become more attentive to the ever-rising competition at the same time. Creating in-house solutions turned out to be expensive and time consuming for them and this is where Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) came into the picture. ERP applications helped them optimize the internal processes like finance, student enrollment, inventory management, human resource, etc. With ERP, the focus on customer service was facing a setback. Education CRM is the latest tool that will help bridge the gap between students and institutions.
Like clients of every industry, the gen Y clients of higher education systems are also impatient, expecting instant service and individual attention. Therefore, it comes to no surprise that proactive institutions and colleges are now adopting CRM techniques to shift their focus externally, i.e., more on customer service. CRM applications are quite similar to ERP applications, but CRM for higher education goes one step ahead and helps institutions optimize their customer-centric resources to the fullest potential.
Most colleges and universities had followed a decentralized structure for decades. This decentralization meant that the departments were not dependent on each other for operations. Although this meant the rise of a new thinking and research era, it also led to inefficient communication between the institutions and their students and prospective stakeholders. Today, tech-savvy students expect a whole new level of personalization in the field of education. From accessing grades, registering for courses or scheduling an appointment with their career counselors, they expect to do so anywhere and anytime they want to. An effective CRM will mend the communication loopholes and deliver a surreal seamless experience to the students from the moment they set their foot on the campus.
So the question arises, how is CRM instrumental in optimizing higher education business strategy? Here are some advantages of implementing CRM solutions in higher education:
Store, manage, and control information
Education CRM for higher education mainly caters to 3 audiences; the prospective students, current students, and alumni. CRM software manages and automates communications with all the audiences effectively. All customer information like name, gender, educational background, contact number, email id, social media contacts etc., is consolidated and stored in a single database, thus effectuating easy accessibility to customize and personalize messages for delivering to the customer in a timely manner.
Education CRM – Enrollment and career counseling
During admission and enrolling procedure, enrollment officers can access student information and decide whether the prospective students meet the selection criteria or not. Information through comprehensive academic reports lets the academic counselors immediately decipher which perquisites or courses are apt for current students to achieve their academic goals.
Track individual prospective student’s recruiting cycle
To effectively communicate with prospective students, it is imperative to know their status in the recruiting process. Through CRM systems, recruitment departments get an instant view 360-degree view of the recruitment cycle issues like incomplete applications, names of applicants visiting the campus but not applied etc.
Workflow and follow up automation
This feature of Education CRM systems ensures that institutions do not fail to respond or follow up on a customer inquiry. They are seamlessly automated to alert the concerned department automatically when a task is assigned to them.
Efficient resource allocation by administrators
Education CRM strategy for an institution’s administrative system also includes a self-service module that enables the admin team to strategically invest their resources in the services of the institution. Shifting the responsibility of information management to students and faculty, admin staff can focus on more productive activities like personal communication with the students to guide them in career planning choices.
Bridge the gap between students and faculty
Education CRM system initiates a dynamic new learning environment where faculty and student services are closely linked allowing sharing of resources and strategies to enable a world-class learning environment. From creating customized learning options for subjects in which the student is facing difficulty, or making immediate student referrals to campus support programs, a CRM for higher education can truly make a difference in connecting the students and faculty members.
Advancement and donor prospects
Using CRM data across the institution, advancement personnel can reach out to new and existing donors with credence. Valuable information obtained through CRM tracking of donor prospects, their activities as well as past activities like gifts and donations to the institution can be instrumental in establishing or re-establishing a personal connection.
Academic institutions today are facing economic, technological and cultural change and to remain in the competition, they are required to solidify their current customer relationships, while engaging new ones. A CRM for higher education will leave a profound impact on how colleges and universities will successfully attract, retain and serve their customers.