As higher education institutions transform how they operate and function, many turn to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions to support the diverse needs of students. Whether you’ve just implemented a CRM on campus or have been using one for a long time, here are 10 tips your institution should consider for the near, mid, and long term to maximize the use of your CRM.

The Near Term: 1 to 3 Month Considerations

1. Take a step back
Studies show that few institutions feel that they are using their CRM solution to its fullest potential, often due to human roadblocks like the learning curve and staff buy-in. Take a moment to consider Customer Relationship Management not as just a CRM solution but as an overall human communication and relationship concept.

Often, team members have a keen sense of what it takes to guide a student toward success. Invite your team’s feedback about what works in your office and what doesn’t. For example, ask your team to share the top three elements they need to successfully advise the students they serve, or the top three business processes they would incorporate if they could. Exercises like these can help determine the right framework to support a solution-driven strategy within your CRM.

2. Assess your situation
Review the feedback to identify common themes and objectives. It can be useful to visually map these themes across departments and staff roles, as well as across different connection points across the student lifecycle. Sometimes, visual word and mind maps can reveal new ways that roles and responsibilities align across campus, which can then be used to empower your CRM strategy moving forward.

3. Let go of what you know
Sometimes the hardest thing for any of us to do is to let go of what we know. Retiring existing processes is easier when teams focus on desired outcomes. What are your goals and objectives? How do certain tasks affect what you’re trying to achieve? Often, the way we have previously done things is a barrier to strategies that can help us advance.

4. Expand your processes
The student lifecycle is a constant transition for students into an academic, professional, and personal path that inspires them to create their futures. Yet, only 11 percent of institutions are using their CRM as a student lifecycle management tool. Encourage your team to think in terms of people as opposed to processes and to consider how they can use the CRM to facilitate seamless transitions for students from one stage to another in their educational journeys.

The Midterm: 3 to 12 Month Considerations

5. Recognize the need for immediacy
Do you respond to inquiries with instant web collateral? Are you taking the opportunity to use a CRM’s ability to provide personalized content with specific calls to action? Are you leveraging integrated survey capability to ask your prospects if you are best meeting their needs? How well are you positioned to proactively implement ideas as they are funneled back to you from your prospects?

Today’s college-going generation receives personalized and targeted information within milliseconds, and the era of three-clicks-to-success of web navigation has been superseded by instantaneous results. Be honest in your evaluations of your communications, then tailor your CRM strategy to meet your audience’s expectations.

6. Measure the quality of your efforts
With the keen sense provided by your team of what drives success in your enrollment management operation, turn your eye toward all outbound efforts and see if they can be backed up by metrics to underscore their effectiveness. Think beyond traditional measures of enrollment success to identify key performance indicators that lead to success.

CRM efforts could be measured not by the number of emails sent but by the number of emails in which recipients interact with the messages they receive. Another indicator of success might be the number of staff on your team who are actively engaging with the CRM solution. 

7. Be transparent
Your CRM is a powerful tool for centralizing information and processes. But don’t forget about its ability to provide data tracking and measurement. Use your data to confirm whether your strategy is working or to decide where to make adjustments. Consider turning these metrics into visual data-grams that lend a clear picture of the return on investment.

8. Connect the dots
Just as human strategy is the precursor to implementing a CRM strategy, data strategy is the precursor to setting a firm foundation for the big data that drives all aspects of an institution. Take a moment to identify all the solutions on your campus that play an integral role in the student lifecycle and identify what works best. This can be the key foundation for knowing which data touch points will be essential to integrating your solutions while eliminating redundancy of either solution or human effort.

The Long Term: One Year and Beyond

9. Rethink roles and responsibilities
Once you’ve let go of processes, letting go of traditional staffing roles may be a natural next step. Some institutions have found that introducing a CRM opens up new staffing possibilities. With these increased roles comes an increased responsibility to empower positions to be CRM strategists.

This is also a good time to revisit your original business outcomes, objectives, and goals. Your CRM not only provides insight on decision-making, but also can determine where position expansion can help to further your student success efforts.

10. Survey your institution
Once a solid CRM strategy has been established within an individual team, consider how you can expand your vision across campus to enhance the student experience. How can you use your CRM to serve your teams as they motivate students to succeed?

Leadership teams across an institution can observe natural intersections of the student lifecycle and consider ways in which solutions can be leveraged to extend the seamlessness of the experience  -- not only for the student but also for the administrative users. Optimizing your CRM to not only communicate outwardly to students but also inwardly to serve your institution is the key to setting a foundation for true student lifecycle management.

Interested in learning more about how Hobsons can help you maximize your CRM? Contact us today!


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