As costs rise and donations continue to fall, colleges and universities must find ways to improve efficiency and to cultivate closer relationships with constituents. CRM (constituent relationship management) technology is one of the best ways to meet these objectives by providing core benefits that improve the educational environment.
1. Improve Communication Consistency
From a prospective student’s first contact through the entire admissions and educational process and beyond, clear, consistent and timely communication is critical to ensure that every interaction with the college is a positive experience.
CRM can help ensure consistency through the use of re-usable templates for routine communications, such as a response to a request for information or an acceptance letter. CRM can even automate the process so that communications occur without requiring your team to find time in their busy schedules to write notes, letters or emails.
In addition, a team member can keep records in the CRM solution so that the entire team stays up to date on the constituent’s current status and all communications to avoid duplicate efforts or mixed messages.
2. Closer Constituent Relationships
When your institution shows it cares about its constituents, they respond positively. Timely communication is an important way to show you care, and automating the process can ensure that your communication is timely. For example, your admissions team might be too busy to send applicants a personal note letting them know that all their application materials have been received, but your CRM system is never too busy. The CRM system will create a personal note, letter or email within minutes of receiving the last required piece of information.
CRM can also send reminders to applicants who have not completed the admissions process, provide registration and tuition information to current students, and even invite parents or alumni to important events.
Communication is the key to every successful relationship, but in our busy society it sometimes gets neglected. Don’t jeopardize valuable relationships because of lack of time — CRM always has the time to nurture relationships with important constituents.
3. Increased Staff Efficiency
CRM solutions allow users to attach document images directly to a record, so you don’t have to make multiple paper copies of admission essays or share a single copy. Plus, there is no need to worry about filing and storing all that paper, because the electronic copy is always right where it should be — attached to the student record.
You can also create automated workflows and alerts to let people know that there is something in their queue requiring their attention. Your team doesn’t have to go from office to office to check the status of a process since it’s always available online.
Communication happens automatically as each step in the process is completed. Requests for donations can easily reference prior giving, including dates and amounts. Parents automatically learn about tuition requirements or student admission status, and students can be notified about their schedules and key dates — all without having to manually look up the information and add it to the communication manually.
Less paper, better and faster communication, elimination or automation of low-value steps in any process will all contribute to increased efficiency for your staff, which results in more effective operations and lower costs.
4. Identify Trends with Predictive Analytics
When you have information about all your constituents in a single repository, you can use sophisticated analytical techniques to identify trends that can contribute to the success of your school and the students who attend. You may discover that students with a particular hobby or interest do very well at your university or that they find it appealing because of nearby amenities aimed at this interest. Or, you could find that alumni with a specific characteristic tend to donate more, or that they prefer to attend a certain type of fundraising event. When this kind of insight, marketing and communication efforts can be tailored to increase enrollments and donations.
5. Free More Resources for Strategic Initiatives
The most important contribution from a CRM system is time. Team members will be freed from time-consuming, mundane tasks that add little value. With the increased efficiency, they can tackle more strategic projects that make your college or university more successful and attractive to prospective students.
No institution of higher education can afford to be without a CRM solution if it hopes to keep pace with its competition and changes in student needs.
Jeff Nixon is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Highland Solutions. Highland Solutions is a business technology provider that is based out of Chicago. Jeff has a solid history of innovative leadership, continuous improvement, product development, managing leading-edge technology and delivering excellent products and services.