Last week I had the pleasure of attending the UCISA Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association Annual Conference in Manchester. My goal for attending this conference was to understand if and how attitudes towards CRM in higher education had changed since I last attended the conference two years ago.

I am happy to report, they had.

Two years ago when I attended this conference, I would receive blank looks and confused expressions every time I mentioned the word ‘customer’ when referring to a student. Personally, I am a great believer in the approach of treating all contacts as customers (or at least potential customers), and this is something I promote whenever I speak to our current and potential clients.

To help delegates understand where I was coming from, I would ask the question, “If you were spending a significant amount of money with a company, every year for three years, would you expect that the person you were in conversation with would have a good understanding of who you are and the history you have had with the company?” The resounding answer was yes.

I would then follow up with the question, “Are you currently doing this with your prospective students?” And unfortunately the answer was no. When asked why, the most popular answer was, “We do not have the tools or technology to do this currently.” Thankfully, they had come to the right stand and I had the opportunity to demonstrate how they could achieve this with our solution. 

Two years later, I noticed a real change in the conversations I had with delegates at the UCISA conference. People were telling me they needed a system that would track and monitor every interaction with a customer (yes, they actually used the term). Maybe this has been brought on with all the changes that are happening over the coming months with student number controls disappearing and the understanding that universities are potentially sitting on a gold mine of contact data. Or, perhaps me harping on about the customer journey is sinking in.

Hobsons have seen significant changes in the expectations of students over recent years, which was highlighted in our International Student Survey results over the past two years. Students expect to follow a journey with you, with targeted and relevant information being handed to them at pivotal points throughout. This information, combined with a personalised approach, including historic conversation, is key to driving success with numbers. Attracting students that are the right fit for your institution not only improves recruitment and yield results, but also subsequently improves retention, graduation, and development efforts. By providing robust communications and analytics throughout the student lifecycle, Radius by Hobsons allows you to target the right quality and quantity of students, and to do more with less.

The journey also does not end once students are enroled. This relationship gathers momentum the longer a customer engages with you. Relationships need to be nurtured throughout the lifecycle, even after enrolment. We actively encourage our clients to use Radius to continue the engagement with a contact while he or she is studying with you and beyond. By doing so, you are providing a consistent experience to your customers throughout their journey. Radius is specifically designed for managing recruitment, admissions, and ongoing student communications in one unified platform. It builds on the solid foundation and historical knowledge of our legacy solutions but goes beyond what we have offered in the past to provide an enterprise solution built for the future.

So, what will I be asking next year? The question could be, “Do you use your CRM for current and previous students?” Or, “Could you say that every interaction or transaction you have with a customer is recorded centrally?” Or, and possibly the most controversial one, “If you work in Department A, do you know what Department B is saying to your customers?”

My goal is to encourage university departments talking and communicating with each other in order to break down silos and share information and data.

Contact us today for more information on how to make purposeful connections across the student lifecycle with Radius by Hobsons.


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