2022 brings with it brand-new battles of fostering growth in the economic wreckage that 2020-21 left behind. The credit union industry continues to evolve and grow at a pace much slower than its financial counterparts. Besides, there has been an alarming lack of growth within the smaller sections of the industry.

To stay in the game and compete against rising FinTechs, it has become extremely to identify and implement new credit union membership growth strategies.

The reports released by CUNA Mutual for the fiscal year 2020 further supplement the need to do so. The report states that the total credit union loan balances rose only by 5.7%, which is far below the 7.2% long-run average. What’s worse is that this is not a representative percentage due to the large disparities between smaller and larger credit unions. Credit unions with assets greater than $1 billion reported an 8% increase in loan balances, up from the similar time-period one year earlier. However, credit unions with assets less than $20 million reported loan growth of -3.5%, below the 3.2% pace set one year earlier. Not just this, the report also states that they expect overall credit union loan growth to fall to 5.5% in 2021. Without the right credit union membership growth strategies in place, we may soon see these figures come to life.

So, you may be wondering, what are the credit union membership growth strategies one must adopt to overcome these challenges. The first step would be to understand the importance of ‘big data’ and its analysis.

Delving into data analytics

1. Delving into data analytics              

Credit unions are engaged in an increasingly competitive financial landscape, with fintechs popping up on every corner of the internet. In 2020 several credit unions merged with fintechs to survive the increasing demand for digitization. This in turn led to credit unions realizing the discrepancies that exist within the industry, when compared to other financial institutions. This is particularly visible in the lack of data analytics being implemented by the credit union sector.

Data analytics aids most industries in their pursuit to gain greater understanding of their target audience. This is achieved by sifting through large amounts of data and analyzing the information to arrive at a conclusion. Sadly, the data goes largely unused by the credit union industry. According to a study from 2018 by Best Innovation Group and OnApproach, 45 percent of credit unions did not have a strategy involving data analytics in place. The credit unions that did have a strategy stated that it would take them three to five years to implement.

A white paper by Information Builders highlights the connection between analytics and personalization. The paper explains how analytics solutions assist credit unions in personalizing their offerings based on individual members’ needs, behaviors, and preferences. This strategy can increase credit union membership growth, through data that summarizes the key performance indicators. However, as stated in an article by Credit Union Insights, it’s important to know that analytics won’t help without marketing automation. This helps utilize information gained about members through marketing campaigns to improve membership engagement strategies. All of this will in turn go hand in hand with the next growth strategy – strengthening existing cybersecurity measures.

Improving cybersecurity and increasing fraud detection

2. Improving cybersecurity and increasing fraud detection  

The pandemic brought with it unemployment, leaving several people with time on their hands, which unsurprisingly led to a significant rise in fraud reports as found by the FTC. They received over 1.3 million fraud reports in Q1-Q3 of 2020, resulting in total losses of over 1.5 billion dollars. Credit unions are heavily investing in ample cybersecurity measures to tackle these issues. What can be even more difficult to realize is that not all these attacks come from an anonymous hacker. As reported in an article by Sharpen, 50% of the attacks are malicious. But around 23% of the breaches were attributed to negligent employees, in the report by IBM and Ponemon Institute. 

Thankfully, credit unions understand the importance of protecting their members from such dangers. PYMNTS’ Credit Union Tracker® collaborated with PSCU to prevent fraud attempts and saved over 277 million dollars in 2019.  They stated that credit unions are on high alert for such security threats and are increasing their protection against cyberattacks. They went on to state that they have greatly invested their resources in data analytics to help protect their communities.

Credit union membership growth strategies can only be fostered when adequate measures that protect member identities are in place. Credit unions can greatly boost their cybersecurity measures through the use of eKYC verification systems. As they can reduce the time taken for verification and fight against fraud. These systems can also help the onboarding agents both on and off field, with the right eKYC.

 Targeted products at points of inflection

3. Targeted products at points of inflection

Once you adopt different systems to incorporate data analytics, verification procedures and security measures, the next step would be to combine the information received from these systems to create personalized member journeys. A report by the NACUSO, details the importance of staying connected and relevant. Due to the increasingly competitive products available, the best way to ensure your growth is by keeping existing members aware of the new products.

Awareness in this sense indicates providing products that are highly relevant at a point of inflection. In a report by HubSpot, they found that 44% of consumers skip using search engines to look for products. Instead they directly enter their product needs on Amazon for speedy, relevant, and highly personalized results. This is because Amazon has successfully captured the market through detailed demographic segmentation and the use of machine learning.

The connection between personalization and cross selling

Similarly, credit unions must try to capture their existing member needs through personalized member journeys. This gives higher opportunities for cross-selling and upselling to members at an inflection point. Inflection points are generally when people are looking into moving into a new home, buying a new car, or are entering university. This means that they will be on the lookout for a financial institution to provide them with the right products and services. Even better if they can acquire all the products they need from one organization. This gives you the chance to acquire younger members and retain them for the future, according to an article by Forbes.

The best way to implement these personalized member journeys is to manage member transactions from one platform. This article goes in-depth on the steps to cross-sell credit union products in a successful manner. Credit union membership growth depends on understanding your members’ needs and meeting them. This can only be achieved by implementing strategies that give you information on what your members want even before they realize they need it.

Loyalty programs and their mobile connection

4. Improving member retention

Once members are onboarded into the credit union systems, the right credit union membership growth strategies will increase retention. This can be achieved through 2 important channels which are- loyalty programs and mobile services. In a report by Pymnts they found that 49.1% of the credit union members placed a high value on loyalty innovation. This survey was sent to 2000 credit union members in total, making it representative of the general population.

The 10.8% of their respondents who weren’t interested in the loyalty programs were also likely to switch their financial institutions. This makes loyalty programs all the more important when it comes to surviving and thriving amidst growing competition. In a report by Flexcutech, loyalty programs are greatly desired by credit union members. With a growing number of members willing to pay a fee to access enhanced loyalty program benefits. This is also complemented by members looking to use mobile banking platforms for loyalty programs.

Why mobile is key to retaining loyalty program members

Around 85% of loyalty program members who have redeemed rewards with their mobile phones stated that they felt an improvement in experience. What is even more surprising is that 97% of millennials stated that they would actively engage with loyalty programs, if they could access rewards information on their smartphones. This further builds the argument for digitization, specifically geared towards improving mobile experiences.

In research done by Aberdeen Group and cited by SuperOffice, companies with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers. As compared to 33% for companies with weak omnichannel strategies. Therefore, credit unions need to work on their omnichannel member engagement strategies, to do this they need to integrate efficient mobile apps. These apps need to be fast, simple and secure while offering customized rewards programs for their members.

Embracing automation for greater efficiency

5. Embracing automation for greater efficiency

Finally, to execute the strategies involving data analytics and omnichannel customer engagement, credit unions need to automate their processes. Hyper-personalization would be impossible to achieve without a system in place that does it in an accurate and systematic manner.  This might sound daunting, but the truth is that companies that offer in-built automation can be the perfect solution for your worries.

According to a recent consumer banking trends study, the deployment of chatbots will save the banking industry $7.3 billion in annual customer service costs by 2023. This means that heavily automated processes will be at the forefront of financial institution growth and development. Starting small-scale automated workflows for member acquisition and engagement strategically increases credit union membership growth. Automation and data analytics go hand in hand. Capturing data and applying it is crucial to compete with existing corporates that have these processes in place.

Ultimately credit union membership growth in 2022 will depend on integrating these strategies well. Thankfully, credit unions have an edge when compared to banks due to their community-based operations. As stated previously, members of credit unions are deeply interested in continuing their membership journeys – all if credit unions revamp and restructure to increase consumer satisfaction.

If you’re looking forward to increasing your membership growth, do check out the features of Leadsquared Credit Union CRM.


Properties follow the concept of supply and demand in a similar way that most products do, but buying real estate is a major milestone for many people. However, the year 2020 was a speed bump for property sales. People were not sure about buying a house anymore. Then what happened to the supply?

The developers were left with a lot of properties on their hands and with fewer people buying, it started piling up. In March 2020, real estate developers were sitting on 45 months of units to sell. And, by September 2020, it had increased to 57 months of units (Source: ET). But things were moving ahead.

There was a steady increase in property demands in Q3-Q4 of 2020, and now we can see the same trend in Q1 of 2021. The Indian government is also reviving real estate through deduction benefits in the affordable housing sector and the year-long tax holiday.

Digitization was another influencer here, bridging the gap in the real estate sales and management processes.

Real Estate Inventory: How to Manage it well


All these efforts are being taken to incentivize demand and smoothen the supply, which in this case is the unsold property or the inventory. So, how can you, as a developer, ensure that you can make the most of these emerging trends? How can you manage your inventory better?

Read on to find out!

What is inventory in real estate?

What is inventory in real estate?


Inventory in residential and commercial real estate refers to the number of unsold units of property. For aggregators, inventory may also include properties that are to be rented and have no occupants momentarily.

On average, property development is a long and tedious process. So, developers must create a detailed development plan for the project. It includes all aspects of the project launch, initiation, and completion. A key ingredient in this plan is demand forecasting or demand planning. Many factors influence the planning like:

  • Current market sentiment
  • Previous sales
  • Location
  • Projected timeline
  • Type of project

Based on these factors, the developer decides the design and number of units in the property. This is inventory. Now, there are a few ways in which you can measure inventory levels such as:

  • Months of inventory: It is the time, in months, required to sell the inventory. It is also known as overhang inventory and is calculated excluding the incoming units.
  • Absorption rate: The rate at which the market is absorbing the inventory.
  • Absolute numbers: It is the number of units that are available in the inventory.

What is real estate inventory management?

What is real estate inventory management?

Real estate inventory management is a practice that utilizes insights from various operations and uses the data to improve property management. Since real estate is a capital-intensive segment, developers need to ensure constant cash flow through sales. Hence, developers employ inventory management practices to remove any inconsistencies from their sales pipeline.

Many developers draw insights in an offline manner. Let us take an example to understand this. During the home buyer journey, an individual requests property visits to gather experience about the projects. On-site agents are responsible for giving them a tour of their future home. Once the buyer shows interest in a unit, the agents would then block that unit for a token amount. These on-site sales agents are also responsible for relaying all property-related data to administrators.

These details are registered with the administrator and influence the sale of other units. Once blocked, the unit is held for the buyer for a limited period and would be off-limits to other buyers. The buyer must complete the documentation if he/she wants to take the deal ahead.

What are the bottlenecks in traditional inventory management?

Offline Inventory Management in Real Estate


There are a host of difficulties that developers often come across with the offline method:

  1. It is difficult for agents to segregate property when they are not able to see features like:
    • The number of rooms
    • Arrangement of rooms
    • The direction the property faces
    • Type of property
    • Count of units with a similar arrangement of rooms
  2. Another challenge is the delay in insight that comes with manual reporting. Knowing the real-time availability of units can help agents convert leads effectively.
  3. The costs incurred with unsold real estate inventory are very difficult to calculate via manual methods.
  4. The final price and discount negotiations can also be a pain point without a detailed understanding of your property sales.
  5. Basic data analysis tools like Excel require additional efforts to analyze the data during demand planning and management.

How can you manage your real estate inventory well?

Overcoming all the above bottlenecks requires a synergy between paperwork, planning, marketing, and selling. Thus, doing all four parts right is the key to a successful inventory management process. A solution that connects your call-center CRM, marketing automation, field sales, and inventory can help with higher property sales.

Moreover, previous data about customer behavior and using it to draw a timeline or plan solutions can play a critical role. For example: In India, customer sentiment dictates real estate sales. Various astrological beliefs and the auspiciousness of events can be the seed of such behavior. Launching any projects around such occasions may lead to higher absorption rates than during any other time of the year.

You can get higher accuracy while planning demand or devising marketing strategies with such data. Hence, many developers want to have a greater degree of insight into their real estate inventory.

Real Estate Inventory Management Module

Digital Inventory Management Dashboard


Inventory is very intrinsic to sales and having too much or too little of it can create many inconsistencies in the sales pipeline. As a developer, you do not want to commit to any deal without the required inventory. Undoubtedly, the need for a robust inventory management solution is another force driving this digital transformation.

An inventory management module plugged into a sales execution platform or a mobile CRM can be a game-changer. The advantages of an integrated 360-degree system come in various forms like:

  • Reduced costs: It helps identify several redundant costs you incur with the unsold inventory on hand.
  • Increased opportunity conversions: Knowing the properties that your customer may want is key to more deals. Leveraging that information when the inquiry is fresh can increase your chances of closing it.
  • Centralized filter for properties: A common dashboard for every agent to filter any units not available anymore.
  • A database for all your teams: Inventory management and data analytics can improve your sales.
  • Thorough demand planning: As a developer, you will be working on various projects over your career. Each time there will be some lessons about the customer’s buying habits that you will want to use in future projects. A setup such as this can increase the accuracy of your demand forecasting.
  • A visual aid to your agents: Gives an easy-to-read view of the floor plan and any units that may be available and up for sale.

Conclusion

The Indian government aims to push many citizens under the PMAY umbrella. These reforms will also ensure that developers can sell more. Hence, developers must leverage this opportunity and adopt tools to manage their real estate sales better.

LeadSquared Real Estate CRM with its inventory management module can help you do that. Take your free trial now!


For your business to flourish, there are two actions needed from your side. First, acquiring a customer, and second, retaining them.

Currently, are you aware of how much business a customer brings you? And do you know what you can do to improve customer onboarding? Are you looking for ways to grow repeat purchases and hence profitability?

The answer to the above questions drills down to focusing on CLV. In the following sections, we will explain what Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is about, how to calculate it, and what you can do to improve it.

What is Customer Lifetime Value?

CLV, or Customer Lifetime Value, is a metric that tells you how much profit your company can make from a customer over time. Understanding its correct definition helps businesses accurately determine their investment in existing customers to drive future revenue.

According to HubSpot, the cost of acquiring a customer has increased by almost 50% for most brands. Hence, it only makes more sense to invest in maintaining your existing relations with your customer.

customer lifetime value graph
Image: webpals.com

Moreover, when we say customer lifetime value, we are not necessarily calculating profits from a customer over their actual lifetime. Even if we take 15-25 years of estimated business, a lot can change in this time, including trends, competition, and the cost factor that will leave your current estimation essentially meaningless. Keeping these issues in mind, it is more realistic to keep your estimations tight for about three years. In the next section, we will see how we can go about doing that.

How to Calculate CLV?

CLV is a customer-centric metric and a powerful base to build upon to retain your valuable customers and improve their experience.

There are four key performance indices that determine your CLV: Average value of sales, purchase frequency, churn rate, and gross margin. Taking a look at each of these shall help you determine where you might be lagging behind. Using these KPIs, you can then calculate your CLV, the simplest formula for which is:

LTV = (Average value of sales) x (Purchase frequency) x (Average retention time)

Another formula that’s preferred is:

CLV = (ARPA) / (Churn Rate)

Where the churn rate is the rate at which your customers cancel their subscription, and ARPA is the average revenue per account.

Customer lifetime value (CLV) calculation
Image: clevertap.com

6 Practical Methods To Boost CLV

Now that you know how to calculate your Customer Lifetime Value, here are six highly practical and widely accepted techniques to boost the metric.

1. Improve Your Onboarding Process

Understand that the first impressions matter the most and hence you must prioritize optimizing your customer onboarding process. How can you do that? Make their first encounter as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

You can, for instance, host a webinar, create quick how-to videos or written tutorials that will help hasten up the process. If your customers come from different walks of life, you can try to personalize their experience by offering content in their language or in a manner they will understand. It makes them feel welcome. Moreover, if you are an online business and require a lot of information on their part, including their identification and other personal data, ask for it in multiple steps by segmenting the signup process.

Explaining what you do in a short and simplified manner prevents your clients from getting scared off.

2. Invest in Live Chat for Real-time Support and Engagement

People are always short on patience and want to resolve their problems as soon as possible. A delay on your part reflects that you don’t care about your customers. Making yourself easily accessible to your customers is a key tactic you should adopt to maintain a high CLV. For example, you can have a chatbot for non-working hours and invest in live chat software for all the other times. Now, you can analyze your chat performance and even video-chat with your clients if your business so requires it.

Live Chat Software For Customer Support And Sales Acquire
Image: acquire.io

Round-the-clock customer support and ensuring that your team is quick in responding to complaints will ensure that your customers stay with you for long.

While telephonic systems are not going to be replaced any time soon, people generally prefer a chat-based resolution because it is speedy and makes your brand feel more human. Also, you shall require fewer support-staff to handle the volume on live chat.

3. Leverage Customer Success Software

Another intuitive way to increase the overall lifetime of your customers is by leveraging Customer Success or CRM Software. It is a tool designed specifically to help your customers better utilize your product or service to achieve their goals. Such software monitors key performance indicators and uses them to help foster relationships with your clients.

How can such tools benefit CLV? Well, it’s quite direct, actually. This tool decreases customer churn while creating more opportunities to upsell and cross-sell. But what’s more is that it highlights your brand image, thereby increasing customer retention.

Most competitive customer success software come with options that let you automatically monitor key customer contacts so that you know when they’ve moved to a new position or switched jobs. With features that allow you to keep track of customer goals getting your hands on a customer success software accurately demonstrates your ROI.

4. Persuade Users to Switch to Annual Billing Cycle

A membership program that offers the customers a discount for long-term engagement is one of the most direct ways to boost retention. When your customers first sign up, you should recommend they get your annual plan. If not, you can send reminders intermittently after they have been associated with you for a couple of months.

Since your clients have penetrated the trust barrier, annual billing cycles encourage your customers to stick around for longer. You can further incentivize this by including a free product or longer service term.

5. Focus on Upsell and Cross-Sell

Upselling and cross-selling are some of the most fundamental techniques to improve your CLV, and in turn, your revenue. Introducing upsells and cross-sells in your marketing program increases your sales volume almost immediately, and it just might be the easiest method to grow your revenue.

Why? Well, your existing customers already trust you, and getting them to buy again is much easier and substantially more efficient than selling to random people on the street.

cross-sell vs upsell
Image: evolvedcontact.com.au

Although while upselling, the trick is to not annoy your customers. Never pressurize your patrons, especially for buying products and services irrelevant to them. This will only sour your relationship with your clients and will lead to the risk of you losing them altogether. Hence, it is best to strategically analyze which of your offerings suit them the best and then time your sales calls.

6. Create a Customer Loyalty Program

If you want your CLV to take a moonshot, starting a solid loyalty program is the way to go. It’s simple — your customers get rewards or points for staying associated with you, allowing them to use those points to get something tangible. There is a reason why banks and supermarkets offer reward points for purchases — the system just works. Again, if yours is an online business, find a way to reward your customers for the recurrent purchases that they make.

According to Bain & Company, a 5% increase in customer retention can lead to a 25-95% rise in profits for B2B businesses; a customer loyalty program is the best technique to keep your clients hooked.

Conclusion

In these competitive times, it is paramount for your business to calculate, track, and boost your customer lifetime value. Since it is all about investing your resources to make profitable decisions, through this article, we hope you now have a makeshift roadmap to retain your customers and feasibly achieve your goals of growing your business.

If you want to capture, track & close all opportunities from every single contact and manage multiple products and spot upsell/cross-sell opportunities to increase your CLV, do try LeadSquared Opportunity Management CRM.


Read further:

Whether you are a college, university, school, or edutech, your primary motive is to get more enrollments. However, with 36.6 Million students graduating YOY according to AISHE by MHRD, generating enough student inquiries is not an issue. Converting casual inquiries into admissions is what is more of a challenge. So, today, we will talk about how an admission management system can help you streamline your admission process and boost your student inquiry to admission ratio.

What is an admission management system?

The admission management system is a digital tool that helps educational institutions manage the student enrollment process effortlessly. It lets admission teams capture student inquiries, check their eligibility, follow-up, collect documents, and complete the application process digitally. The admission management system also allows students to apply online, check their application status, submit documents and pay fees online. 

Needless to say that the admission cycle is long and cumbersome. From student lead generation, document collection, selection, and admissions – everything involves a lot of paperwork. Digital solutions for admission management such as applicant and self-serve application portals make the admission process easy. 

a typical student journey workflow right from student inquiry capturing to admission process and enrollment.

Think of your student inquiries as vehicles and your admission process as a toll booth. As long as there are only a few vehicles, it is manageable. Once the vehicles start coming from multiple directions, the next thing you notice is a traffic jam. Before you know it, there is a delay in the movement due to congestion. Although it might not impact the toll booth as much as it would your educational business. Why? 

According to AISHE, there are 52,627+ private colleges, standalone institutes, and research institutions in India. And students also apply at multiple institutions to secure their education. Therefore, institutions must play smart to fetch the right talent for their courses. An admission management system streamlines the entire process from student inquiry to conversion.

Why do You Need an Admission Management System? 

You should consider an admission management system if you face the following challenges:

  • Low inquiry to admission ratio
  • Inefficient student inquiry capture, tracking, and management in real-time, leading to leakages
  • No system in place to capture student drop off rates
  • Counselors using excel sheets to manage the entire admission process – leading to confusions and further leakage

Even if you find these issues unrelated, these are the critical areas that need improvement to boost your admission rates.

The following are the benefits of an admission management system.

The benefits of using a student admission system

How can admission management system help?

1. Capture student inquiries from multiple sources

Gone are the days where you would generate inquiries only through referrals and traditional ads. Today, leads can pour in through social media, websites, offline ads, channel partners, or publisher integrations. Not having an efficient system in place translates to missed inquiries. But with the help of an admission system, you would be able to capture all leads with 0 leakages.

Capture all your student inquiries from various channels and distribute them automatically to your admission counselors.

2. Track application status

In general, an admission form consists of various sections and subsections, which is difficult to fill in one go. Often, students leave the site before completing the application form. So, to make it easier for them, ensure that the online application process is simple.

The applicants should be able to apply online, pay the fee, and check their status online. They should also be able to scan and upload documents on the go. In case they drop off for any reason, they may resume the application anytime they want to.

 A student admission system increases the resolution rate. Hence, applicants can see the status of their application in real-time.

Students will be able to track the application status and view their complete journey.  Counselors can map the student journey and take relevant steps wherever necessary.

3. Track student journey

A common misconception is that the student journey starts after they enroll in your institution. But, the journey begins from the time a student inquires for admission. Assisting the applicant from the very beginning will show that you care about them and you can do this easily by utilizing relevant touchpoints.

A student admission system provides a consolidated view of the applicant’s interaction history since their first interaction. Additionally, admission counselors can see the application status, drop-offs, activities of the student on the website, email opens, link clicks, tickets raised, pending queries, solved queries, etc. This way, counselors can have a full context of the student activities and engage with applicants with a personal-touch.

A one stop dashboard to view the complete student journey including application statuses, pending, and completed payments and more.

4. Student and counselor portals

An efficient student management system makes the enrollment process easier for the students and counselors. With paperless applicant portals, you can make the admission journey easy for students because a student-friendly form will always have a higher completion rate. With the help of a student portal, applicants can:

  • Fill the admission form at their convenience
  • Select their course
  • Schedule screening exams and interviews
  • Pay the application fee
  • Book virtual, physical campus tours, and continuously engage with counselors with the help of a dashboard.

Similarly, admission counselors can automate admission notifications. They can have all their scheduled and overdue tasks in one place. In other words, they would have a complete overview of their applicant’s journey and engage with them at the right time. Counselors can set reminders and alerts to notify them about incomplete applications. Hence, they reduce the response time, which is the primary reason for a lower inquiry to admission ratio. They also have access to documents online and save countless hours by decreasing paperwork.

A one stop dashboard to view the complete student journey including application statuses, pending, and completed payments and more.

5. Automate the selection process

With the help of an admission management system, you can connect all processes and teams. You can build an admission workflow and map student journeys, for example, inquiry, applications, counseling, enrollment, etc., with the relevant department. As soon as the student takes a crucial step, the admission management system assigns student inquiries to counselors automatically. You can also define the distribution rules based on your needs. For example, if you have multiple campuses, you can distribute inquiries to counselors based on location.

Automate the communication process with students whenever and wherever required.

6. Prioritize response

With a large volume of student inquiries coming in, who do you reach out to first? A dynamic admission management system assigns scores to the applicants based on their actions, such as email opens, link clicked, and website activities. You can also take eligibility into account. For instance, prioritize communication with students who scored more than 80% marks in their school. Thus, based on the score, your counselors can focus on the important inquiries first.

Prioritize between the student inquiries who have maximum chances of conversion and the low priority inquiries.

7. Advanced analytics

The only way to improve your admission rates is to draw insights into your admissions team’s KPIs. The customizable dashboard allows you to track the marketing team’s performance in addition to sources, campaigns, admissions teams (online and offline teams), counselors, call center agents, and more.

With reliable analytics, you can redefine your strategies and invest more in profitable sources. Imagine spending X amount of money on social media advertisements on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. You observe that most qualified leads are coming from Facebook. You also see that you are not getting enough student leads from Instagram and LinkedIn. So, instead of relying on these two sources, you can invest more in Facebook that’s getting you the best application conversion rates.

Generate payment milestone reports, phone call metrics, student admission stage transition analysis, and complete reporting for all your processes, teams, courses, and campaigns. One can also draw the performance reports across campuses and devise strategies to improve admission rates.

In short, an admission management system can help you generate payment milestone reports, phone call metrics, student admission stage transition analysis, and complete reporting for all your processes, teams, courses, and campaigns. You can also draw the performance reports across campuses and devise strategies to improve admission rates. 

The following are the KPIs and metrics delivered by an admission management system:

  • Daily calls made by counselors
  • Email open and clickthrough rates and the best time for sending emails
  • Region-wise percentage of student conversion achieved per admission counselor/program associate/consultant
  • Call to conversion ratio.
  • Admissions per employee
  • Hourly, weekly, monthly performance reports
  • Sources of qualified leads (Social Media, Publisher panel, etc.)
  • Pan India and location wise team performance
  • Performance of lead generation sources, admission counselors, teams, and marketing campaigns
  • Team performance
  • Product (subjects, courses) performance
  • Campaign source performance
  • Agents performance
  • Return on Advertisements (ROAs)

[Also read: 5 handy tips for admission officers]

To Summarize, 

India currently has 200 million school-going students, and 36.6 million students graduate YOY. It has the 3rd largest higher education sector globally. Thus, there is no dearth of students seeking admission to academic institutions. But, student inquiry inflow is causing tremendous pressure on admission teams. Irregular follow-ups and missing out on inquiries have strengthened the need for a digitized approach toward admissions. In short, a student admission system helps automate and streamline end-to-end admission operations. Thus, providing complete transparency to the students as well as the administration.

If you plan on boosting your inquiry to admission ratio, do check out LeadSquared. We would be happy to streamline your admission process for you!

LeadSquareds’ Admissions Management System has helped fine-tune the admissions process at RIT like a machine, which is synchronized with our daily activities. As a result of which our admissions process has increased our enrollment by 60%. Record-keeping and tracking have become more swift and systematic. Thus, LeadSquared has been of great advantage for us in these recent years

Amod Krishna, Dean at Roorkee Institute of Technology

FAQs

What is an admission management system?

An admission management system is a digital solution to manage student enrollments in colleges, universities, and training institutions. Educational institutions use Education CRM to distribute inquiries to counselors/admission teams, follow-up with leads, and complete the enrollment process digitally.

What is an online admission system?

An online admission system lets the student apply for a course online, submit mark sheets/documents, and check their application status. On the other hand, it allows the institutions to track the applicants, follow-up with them, schedule counseling sessions, accept digital documents, check eligibility, and accept/reject the application.


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To earn a customer for life, companies have to go above and beyond! Be it Domino’s saving a customer’s life, a Starbuck barista learning sign language for a deaf customer, or Zappos making sure the shoes arrived on time for a wedding, the emphasis is always on building strong relationships with customers.

Thankfully, we have CRM software to manage all customer-facing operations – from handling casual inquiries to sales, support, and beyond. Explore the use cases, functions, and how CRM software can help you in your overall business strategy in detail in the subsequent sections.

What does CRM software do (CRM functions)?

CRM software helps businesses make customer communications and sales efforts more efficient. CRM tools help process customer data and empower organizations to build better relationships with vendors and clients.

It gathers data from multiple channels, stores, and processes them. Customer data may include interaction history, purchase history, personal information, and even behavioral data.

Here are a few areas in which CRM helps.

Consolidates customer data into a central location

CRM software centralizes customer data in a single location so that everyone has access to the data. The manager can also control access to the data. The information that a CRM can collect, and store is:

1. Contact Information: It includes customer email address, phone numbers, postal addresses, websites, and social media accounts.

2. Communication history: CRM can help track customer interactions on website/ads and through emails, phone calls, online chats, and support tickets.

3. Account management: CRMs can monitor the journey from lead to customer, including purchasing records and how customers find your business.

Improves sales

CRM software has become integral to digital sales processes. Businesses have reported an increase in team productivity and customer retention rates by using this software.

1. Optimize sales strategies: CRMs can help you optimize sales processes. You can identify bottlenecks in your businesses and propose appropriate solutions. You can also monitor campaigns using CRMs and optimize them in real-time.

2. Accurately predict sales: CRMs can help sales managers understand how well their team is performing. This understanding will allow them to set realistic goals and get a better sales prediction in the future.

3. Train new hires faster: CRMs come with a standardized mode of operation. Therefore, new hires can effortlessly learn the system and start making an impact right from the start.

4. Provide a better customer experience: CRM can help you understand a prospect’s stage in your sales pipeline. Rushing into a deal may damage the relationship with the customer. CRM indicates salespeople when the buyer is interested and when they can proceed forward.

It makes businesses more customer-centric.

CRMs collect, store, and organize customer information from interactions a consumer has with the brand. This information is collected ethically and with the consent of the customer. The customer also shares data while making a purchase or during a support call. This data includes contact information, behavioral information, the needs, and the challenges of the customer.

By having access to all these information, sales reps know how and when to pursue a customer. They can also collaborate with the marketing team to deliver targeted content to prospects. CRMs make sales interactions a more personalized experience for the customer. CRMs can also help businesses anticipate the needs of a customer before they contact the brand.

Customer experience: an essential guide for managers ebook

Allows better customer segmentation and engagement

It is difficult to do business with a faceless crowd. Then again, it is challenging to address each prospect individually. CRMs help in segmenting customers into clusters or segments, making marketing efforts much easy. Brands can now focus their marketing efforts on a particular subset of customers, providing them with a personalized experience.

For instance, marketers can create focused lists and run different marketing campaigns for different segments. A CRM software can segment your customer list into specific buckets. The criteria could be demographics, occupation, interests, etc., or a combination of them. Based on this information, you can craft personalized messages and engage with them effectively.  

Helps in customer retention

CRMs also help in retaining existing customers. With CRM, you can orchestrate email campaigns, provide personalized discounts, conduct post-purchase surveys, and more. The system can send follow up emails for feedback. Customer success teams can take it from there and address the issues. CRM tools can also identify upselling/cross-selling opportunities and notify your sales reps about the same.

Improves data security

A business that collects customer data is also in charge of its security. CRMs come with built-in tools to store, manage, and secure customer data. Often, businesses need to store data while abiding by government regulations. CRMs automate this entire process while providing access control to the data. In this way, you can respect your customer’s data and enforce transparency in data storage and usage.

A brief history of CRM

history of CRM software

Customer relationships became an integrated part of businesses since the 1970s. Even though the term originated during that period, the practices were in place since trading began in Paleolithic times. To be a successful trader, one needs to be aware of the buyers and suppliers in the chain, where they are, and what they want to buy or sell.

However, in the twentieth century, buying and selling have become much more sophisticated. The number of parameters affecting a business has grown exponentially, and accounting has become complex. In the mid-20th century, with the commercial availability of computers, people started moving towards automation. During that time, businesses evaluated customer satisfaction by directly asking them or via surveys. This period was also the beginning of digital record-keeping.

Larger enterprises used mainframe computer systems for automating sales processes. Smaller businesses used manual methods for sales. They used Rolodex systems, which was prevalent since the 1950s. The Rolodex system was a set of index cards in trays containing customer records.

The rise of computer systems:

Slowly, in the 1980s, computers became more widely available to businesses. Kate and Robert D. Kestenbaum introduced Database Marketing in 1982. Database marketing used statistical methods to analyze customer data. In 1986, ACT! came out, based on a digital Rolodex. It was the first contact management service. This contact management service slowly evolved to create the early CRM software programs in the 1990s.

In 1993, Tom Siebel introduced Siebel systems, which was one of the early CRMs. Following that, multiple standalone CRM software started emerging. ERP software companies, such as SAP, Oracle, and Navision, started providing CRM modules in their software.

Between 1997 and 2000, CRM products added shipping and marketing capabilities. In 1999, Seibel introduced the Siebel Sales Handheld. It was the first push towards mobile and the cloud. Around the same time, other providers also started their mobile and cloud-hosted services, such as Salesforce, Peoplesoft, SAP, and Oracle.

In 2004, SugarCRM emerged as the first open-source CRM. The increased accessibility also meant reduced prices of CRM solutions. By 2009, social media also gained a lot of momentum. Businesses wanted to leverage social media data, and CRM provided the tools to collect and mine user data. CRMs now came with APIs that allowed companies to integrate their software with social media handles directly. Social CRM solutions also emerged during this time, the most notable being Nutshell and Base. Over the next few years, CRMs also linked up with business intelligence systems and communication platforms, enabling improved corporate communication.

The present day CRM

The present trend of CRMs is to replace industry-specific solutions with more generalized solutions. There is also a focus on interoperability with legacy software. This support for legacy software is primarily there to provide businesses on old software an upgrade path. Most CRMs are now cloud-based and have vastly leveraged the power of mobile devices. Moreover, the recent CRM trend also focuses on better social relationship management.

CRM software statistics

CRM is now at the core of every business, be it big or small. The last decade saw the increased use of CRM on mobile. Moreover, cloud-based CRM solutions also witnessed greater market affinity.

At present, a massive 91% of companies with over 11 employees have CRM software for running their business operations. Here are some of the latest statistics on how companies are using CRM.

The CRM market is fast-growing!

CRMs have become way more accessible now. They are cloud-based and easy to use. Almost any company, irrespective of its size, can afford some form of CRMs.

CRM software improves ROI

When implemented correctly, CRMs can massively improve your return on investment. Here are the CRM statistics in terms of ROI:

  • For every dollar spent, a CRM can pay back $8.71.
  • According to FinacesOnline, a CRM implemented successfully can pay back something from 2.50 USD to 5.60 USD.
  • For example, the Quint Wellington Redwood Group got an ROI of 1556% by using a CRM. All these improvements came from:
    • Improved employee productivity
    • Sales-qualified leads went up by 300%
    • Closed deals went up by 100%

The rise of mobile CRM

Since the beginning of the decade, more and more people are opting to work from their homes. This change in the workplace has increased the demand for mobile CRM solutions. Since most CRM software is cloud-based, the shift to mobile CRM is painless.

  • The global mobile CRM market size was nearly US$ 15 Bn in 2019. FutureMarketInsights expect it to grow at an approximate CAGR of 13% over 2019-2029.
  • In a LeadSquared survey, 40.74% of respondents said that Mobile apps for CRM/other software are crucial for their sales process.

Most CRM solutions are cloud-based.

According to the SelectHub CRM Buyer survey, 56% of the participants prefer a cloud-based solution over on-premise. However, 43% were equally ready to consider both cloud and on-premise solution. 1% of the respondents were undecided. Professionals prefer cloud-based CRMs because maintaining on-premise CRMs is challenging and requires well-trained IT staff.

Service, IT, and manufacturing industries are the largest users of CRM.

SelectHub CRM Buyer survey states that 32% of the CRM user base is from the service industry. 13% of the user base belongs to IT. Another 13% belongs to Manufacturing. Other sectors that use CRM are the government, healthcare, retail, education, and construction. However, in 2015, Capterra’s survey showed 18% of the CRM user base was retail.

How does CRM software work?

Customer relationship management is literally what CRM software does. Modern CRMs also optimize business processes, manage workflows, automate workflows, and more. CRM software is essentially a collection of multiple software modules working together. At their core, all CRMs have the same underlying feature set. These are as follows:

Lead management

Lead management is the process of capturing leads, scoring them based on their interactions with the business, qualifying, and distributing them to various sales reps.

To start with, lead capture is collecting data about potential customers and storing them in the CRM database. Based on how they have interacted with the brand, the CRM software assigns them scores. This scoring helps in lead prioritization. CRMs also use AI-powered decision making to determine which lead is worth the effort.

The next step of lead management is distribution, where the software can assign leads to sales reps/call-center agents. CRMs also help nurture leads by providing prospects with marketing collateral needed to educate them regarding a product or a service. They can even remind or alert reps to get in touch with an inactive customer.

Sales funnel management

A sales funnel defines a set of stages through which a prospect goes through before becoming a customer. People call it a funnel because even though the number of prospects/leads is high, the number of customers is few.

Initially, there is the awareness stage, followed by the interest stage. Next comes the decision stage, where a prospect has to decide whether the product fits the requirements. Finally, in the action stage, the customer makes the deal. CRMs help by automating the funnel activities like nurturing leads. CRMs can gather data about the customer, help you and the customer make the decision faster.

Marketing automation

Marketing automation allows you to target users with personalized ad campaigns. CRMs can send automated emails with custom discounts, messages, and more to prospects. With marketing funnel automation, CRMs can send the right information to the right contacts at the right time via the channel of their choice. The company can define triggers based on which the CRM will act. They can also send out targeted surveys.

In a nutshell, a well-implemented CRM can automate the entire customer journey and increase conversion rates.

Workflow management

CRM software can automatically define a progression of steps needed to close a deal or perform any other business process. They can fully or partially automate workflows, create schedules, set deadlines as required by a business. The following figure illustrates the automation workflow in LeadSquared Sales CRM.

Customer journey builder - for all your campaigns

CRM and other business software

Apart from CRM, enterprises use many software solutions for their specific operational requirements. Although they may look similar and many of their functionalities overlap, there is a fine line between CRM and other popular business software.

Difference between CRM and Lead Management System

Lead management systems usually deal with only the first part of the customer journey (that is, they manage leads). They do not handle customer relations after a lead/prospect becomes a customer. Lead management systems are essentially just the initial steps of the CRM software.

Difference between CRM and Contact Management System

Contact management software (CMS) is a digital phonebook. Modern CMS can also help track customer activities, provide analysis based on sales records, and more. However, CRM is a more advanced system that includes the functionality of CMS. CRMs can handle complex sales cycles, automate workflows, and much more.

Difference between CRM and ERP

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and CRM are two different software categories. Businesses may rely on both ERP and CRM. ERP is mainly for finance management, order management, production management, supply chain management, inventory management, and procurement. On the other hand, CRM helps with sales force automation, customer service, marketing automation, customer self-service, and other related tasks. Read More.

ERP vs CRM infographic

Best CRM features

Any reputable CRM platform will have the following features:

  1. Contact Management: Stores contact information such as names, phone, email, social media accounts, and more in a searchable database.
  2. Lead management: Help manages the process of converting potential prospects into customers.
  3. Interaction tracking: Automatically tracks and add interaction records of specific contacts.
  4. Email integration: Integrates with popular email service providers, allowing easy collaboration.
  5. Workflow automation: Provides the ability to automate repetitive tasks based on schedule or assigned triggers. CRMs can also send automated follow-up reminders.
  6. Pipeline management: Gives an overview of the entire sales funnel. You can also see what is happening at each stage. CRMs can also manage different tasks at different stages of the funnel.
  7. Reporting and analytics: All CRMs can provide you with comprehensive reports as well as forecasts.

What must you look for in a CRM system?

With hundreds of CRM suites to choose from, finding the right CRM software has become challenging. Here are the essentials that you should not overlook when selecting a CRM.

Cloud vs. On-premise

While most of the CRMs in use today are cloud-hosted, some businesses may still prefer on-premise CRMs on the grounds of compliances and personal preferences. Some believe that on-premise CRMs provide more control over data access. However, modern-day cloud-based software solutions also ensure top-notch security and control over data access.

The disadvantages of an on-premise solution quickly outweigh the advantages. On-premise solutions have a high upfront cost. Software deployment and upgrades take a long time. Providing remote access and third-party integrations are also very difficult.

In cloud-based solutions, your vendor manages the infrastructure. You pay based on your usage. You only have to pay for the service while the vendor takes care of everything else.

[Also read: Comparing Cloud vs. On-Premise CRM: Pros and Cons]

APIs and third-party integrations

If your sales reps have to switch to a different program to send emails or check an appointment, the productivity will drop. Integrations with other apps are a crucial feature of any CRM. CRMs should integrate with other apps that not only improve productivity but also extend the collaborative capabilities. Integrations are either provided right out-of-the-box or can be added on later via APIs. APIs can integrate your CRM solution with email services, social media, team communication apps, calendars, and more.

Developer platforms

No CRM solution will have the exact functionalities that your business needs. What you can do is program the CRM accordingly. For instance, CRMs with strong developer platform support allow businesses to create modules or extend functionality as needed. CRM software such as LeadSquared lets you build custom applications around LeadSquared based on your business needs.

Fast and simple setup

As mentioned before, most businesses look for ease of use when choosing CRMs. It means even non-technical people should be able to set up the CRM without having to code. Moreover, your vendor should also walk you through the entire setup. Furthermore, it should not need a permanent admin to run the CRM. A CRM solution should be simple enough that anybody can use it, irrespective of their level of technical expertise.

Not every business can shell out thousands of dollars over CRM every year. Smaller companies need CRM solutions that let them increase their profits without investing too much.Therefore, the CRM solution you choose should not require an IT department to run, and the vendor should set it up for you.

Customization

CRM should offer ample customization options. Every business has its own needs. The workflows of every business are different. Hence, customization is a necessity when it comes to creating complex workflows. Customization is also necessary for generating reports.

Team adoption

In many cases, CRM adoptions end in failures. Proper implementation of CRM is crucial to the success of CRMs. Therefore, a company should adopt a CRM depending on the needs of the sales reps.

Mobile support

Something that has become extremely important in this age is the need for mobile access. You need to have a CRM that will have apps for iPhone or Android devices that can simplify your field teams’ tasks.

Security

When you are going for a cloud-hosted CRM, your vendor will manage all your and your customers’ data. So, you must check the vendor’s performance reviews, their client base, and more. Also, do review the security features that your vendor provides.

Most popular CRM tools

Here are the best CRM tools for 2021. Depending on your business requirements and other considerations, you can select from them.

Salesforce

Salesforce is one of the earliest cloud-based CRM solutions. It comes with a large number of features and extensive add-on options. Salesforce is speedy, intuitive, and extremely customizable. It is suitable for both small and large businesses. However, as the number of users increases, it may become pricey.

LeadSquared Sales Execution CRM

LeadSquared Sales Execution CRM focuses on providing a flexible solution that will work for both small and large businesses. The CRM focuses on eliminating leakage and automatic distribution of leads to relevant sales reps. It also has extensive integration and no-code workflow automation options.

LeadSquared CRM

HubSpot

It is a popular CRM solution with a free tier. HubSpot includes several hubs that connect with CRM. The platform can integrate with HubSpot Marketing Hub, Service Hub, Sales Hub, and CMS Hub. It can also integrate with other apps and services as required.

The free tier does not come with premium support options and is limited to a handful of users. However, it is a great starting point for many small businesses.

Microsoft Dynamics 365

Microsoft Dynamics is a suite of business applications that includes CRM, ERP, and more. It mostly caters to large enterprises. It has both a cloud-hosted and an on-premise version.

Microsoft Dynamics is highly customizable, offers seamless Office 365 integration and advanced analytics with Power BI.

Zoho CRM

Zoho is a popular CRM for small and medium-sized businesses. It provides a healthy mix of features at a competitive price. Moreover, it also integrates easily with a long list of products.

Zendesk Sell

Zendesk Sell focuses mainly on the ease of use and the lead management features of Base CRM. It also has extensive interoperability within the products of the Zendesk ecosystem.

Apptivo CRM

Apptivo is a suitable option for start-ups and SMBs. It is an all-rounder CRM that checks all the right boxes. However, what Apptivo lacks is the integration options that other CRMs can provide. Also, the performance may feel sluggish at times.

Freshsales

For SMBs with basic CRM requirements, Freshsales is the best choice. It is lightweight, simple, and allows quick set up. It comes with extensive customization options and AI-assisted systems.

Less Annoying CRM

As the name suggests, this CRM caters to those who are getting started with CRMs. This CRM is for those looking for all the functionalities of a CRM without the extra frills.

Less Annoying CRM is an ideal solution for start-ups and small businesses that provide a decent amount of customization options.

Pipedrive CRM

For sales-focused SMBs, Pipedrive CRM is an ideal choice. It is an easy-to-use system that also provides advanced functionalities like chatbot creation and comprehensive reporting.

CRM software benefits

Here are the benefits that you will find in CRM software, in general.

#1 Consolidated storage

With CRM, you can store all your data in a single, centrally-managed location. Therefore, you will always have access to updated information. There are zero chances of discrepancy when you are using a CRM.

#2 Increased automation

CRM platforms can take care of repetitive tasks and reduce manual interventions. Plus, you can automate a lot of mundane tasks. Automation also reduces human errors. Users can automate marketing campaigns, process workflows, scheduling, customer data management, and more using a CRM.

#3 Well-defined workflows

CRM platforms can help create complex workflows automatically. It gives a clear operational strategy to the sales teams. Everyone will have a clear idea of what they will have to do next. It leads to an increase in the productivity levels of the sales team.

#4 Reduced operational costs

CRMs help cut down costs by increasing productivity, reducing downtime and production costs. It eliminates the documentation costs to a great extent since everything is now digitized. Moreover, CRMs help you retain old customers, which is much cheaper than finding a new customer. With CRM, the cost of providing support and services to a customer also goes down.

#5 Shorter sales cycle/Faster deals

CRM software prioritizes leads and lets you know who is genuinely interested in your product or service. Your sales reps can then focus on those leads and not waste effort on others. It helps in increasing the conversion rate.

#6 Improve productivity with a mobile workforce

Now, your employees can work from anywhere. Cloud-hosted CRMs allow people to access the platform and work from any connected device. The recent changes in the workplace pushed more people to work from remote locations. With a cloud-based CRM, the business can remain fully operational even when people are working from home.

#7 Effortless team collaboration

CRM platforms come with collaborative capabilities where people can work together on a task. For example, if a customer leaves feedback on your social media handle, both your marketing team and support team would be able to respond to the customer and address the issue. You can further increase the collaboration capabilities of CRM by integrating it with other apps and services.

#8 End-to-end customer engagement

CRMs prevent lead leakage by keeping the customer engaged throughout the journey. Using automated marketing tools, CRM can interact with the customer from time to time. For instance, the system can notify or send an email when a customer has been inactive for a while.

#9 Contextual communication

CRMs unifies customer interaction from different channels, such as text messages, emails, social media interactions, and more. It allows the sales team to understand customer needs. Moreover, a different sales rep can continue conversations with the customers over any channel without losing the context.

When do you need CRM software?

Growing businesses often find themselves overwhelmed with the amount of customer and sales data. Organizing this data and putting it to use can be quite a challenge. Here are some of the scenarios that indicate that your business needs CRM software.

1. Teams are facing communication challenges.

Imagine you have sticky notes all over your desk, a calendar cluttered with notes and business cards scattered here and there. You are still using the communication apps intended for personal use and digging through emails to find the right information. Worse, you also end up missing deadlines and follow-ups.

This scenario is common in organizations that still rely on pen and paper-based methods. Or when they have not strategically digitized their business. For instance, you are using WhatsApp for talking to clients while also using Gmail or Outlook to send official emails to the same people. However, there is no integration between them. CRMs help here by not just digitizing the processes but also by bringing every stakeholder under one roof.

2. Digging through spreadsheets is confusing.

All businesses start with spreadsheets at first. They are simple and get the job done. However, just spreadsheets are not enough as the business grows.

Over time, the spreadsheet will have increasing rows and columns. You will soon find that you are storing a lot of redundant data in the spreadsheet. In later stages, you break up that spreadsheet into more sheets, but linking them is hard. Searching through them is even more challenging.

If such is the case, you will need a relational database. CRM database allows you to store complex data formats in a centralized location, search them using advanced filters, and more. This data is synchronized with other modules too. So, for example, if a deadline changes, all team members are notified. If you acquire a new lead, the data is visible to all.

3. You are losing leads.

Lead leakage is a massive issue for growing businesses. It is an effect of the lack of planning and organization. With an increasing number of customers, it becomes hard to keep up with every individual. You may end up missing deadlines. Even worse, a customer may lose interest while waiting for a response.

CRM software prevents lead leakage by assigning them automatically to your reps as soon as they arrive in the system. You can also monitor the progress.

Read the case study: How Zolostays Reduced Lead Leakage to 0.1% with LeadSquared.

4. Sales reports are hard to read.

Creating a report from a spreadsheet can be challenging. Often there are a lot of variables involved. Visualizing each of them is not a straightforward task. Sales analytics are crucial, but handmade reports often fail to cover all the aspects. What did the team do well? Where can it improve in the future? These questions are often left unanswered with handmade reports. CRMs can automatically generate reports based on customer and business data. It can show you a simplified overview while giving you the option to drill down into the nitty-gritty parts.

Related:

5. Marketing campaigns are not delivering results.

The ROI of marketing campaigns will not be great when you do not know your consumers well. A CRM will help you identify who you are selling to, what their life is like, and what they need. You can then design marketing campaigns that resonate with your target audience.

6. You cannot work when you are away.

Managing spreadsheets on your office computer is easy. But you cannot do that when you are away. Business does not stop when you are out of the office. Cloud-based CRMs take care of this issue by storing everything centrally in the cloud. You can access the data from any remote location. They even have mobile apps, allowing you to work from almost anywhere.

7. It is getting harder to manage your growing business.

The number of customers is increasing. You are also hiring more employees. There are more interactions with customers, more conversations, more social media posts. People are sharing information using emails and chats, and the spreadsheet is growing in size. It is normal to get overwhelmed at this point.

With CRM, everything gets tracked. Different employees can collaborate and share updated customer data.

CRM and app integrations

Integrating CRM with other apps and services truly maximizes productivity. There are native integrations where a CRM can integrate with other platforms right out of the box. 3rd Party integration allows it to integrate to work with apps and services from other developers. Custom integrations allow CRM to work with any other programs using APIs.

Native Integrations are crucial in the initial stages. It allows you to use the tools that you have been using before having the CRM. You can turn on native integrations in just a few clicks. For instance, you can integrate your CRM with Outlook, Gmail, Mailchimp, WhatsApp, or other services.

A CRM platform has a handful of integrations built in natively. For integration with other, not so popular business tools, third-party integrations help.

Check out out-of-box app integrations in LeadSquared CRM.

CRM software implementation best practices

When you are getting a CRM, keep the following 5 points in mind.

  • Audit your requirements. You should have a clear idea about what you want a CRM solution to do for your business. Know how much you can invest and what returns you are expecting from it.
  • Train your staff. It is your employees who will be using the CRM most of the time. Therefore, before getting a CRM, assess your employees and what type of platform will be suitable for them. After implementation, train them so that they can make full use of the system.
  • Talk data security with the vendor. Be serious about your customer’s data. Be transparent and open about what you expect in terms of data security. As a customer, you have the right to know about the data storage facilities. Furthermore, get to know if your vendor will back up the data to prevent data loss.
  • To fully leverage a CRM platform, you should use automation whenever you can. It will eliminate repetitive and mundane tasks. Integrate the apps with your existing apps and services to get more out of them.
  • Monitor progress regularly. When implementing a CRM, create a schedule, and monitor the progress. You will often need to modify processes to ensure that the implementation aligns well with the business requirements. Involve all the stakeholders in this process.

FAQs

What are the top 5 CRM systems?

For a while, Salesforce has been the preferred CRM system for many brands. Microsoft Dynamics, Adobe Experience Manager, Oracle, and SAP have a high market share because of their extensive client base consisting of large enterprises. Newer CRMs that are quite popular include Zoho, Apptivo, Freshsales, LeadSquared, and Zendesk.

What is customer relationship management?

Customer relationship management is the set of processes that businesses use to manage interactions with current and potential customers. It also helps retain customers and improve sales.

What are the key features of CRM?

The core features of a CRM include:
· Contact management
· Lead management
· Interaction tracking
· Document management
· Email automation
· Quotes and proposal management
· Sales funnel management
· Workflow automation
· Reporting and forecasting

What are the popular CRM tools?

The most popular CRM tools are HubSpot, Zoho, Apptivo, Freshsales, LeadSquared, and Zendesk. Many of these solutions have free trials and even a basic free tier, making them perfect for SMBs and enterprises.

Allow me to take you down memory lane to the time when you graduated from school. It is a bittersweet time for everyone. We were all still unsure of the courses or universities to select. Even though we had a long list of colleges, we would still consult everyone around. The decision became harder when we saw ads of lush-green campuses, events, and more from colleges that weren’t on our shortlist. But, in the end, we probably ended up choosing the ones that gave us the best student experience during our search. 

That’s what I want to discuss today: student experience during this search and how colleges can make it as hassle-free for students as possible.

The best working strategies to enhance student experience during admissions.

What are the things that lead to a great student experience?

Before we discuss that in detail, let us also acknowledge that since the pandemic, the education sector has seen a paradigm shift; not only do the students have more choices but several new touchpoints along the admission journey.

Educational institutions are now using technology extensively to drive admissions. For example, they run targeted email and ad campaigns, engage on social media, and much more. But when you reverse the roles and view these ads from a learners’ perspective, you see them swamped and overwhelmed with promotional emails from hundreds of institutions. It leads to more distractions and choices than ever before. 

Thus, even if it is a digital interaction, you must create an impactful experience for students; in fact, even more so. A key differentiator (besides the quality of the education) would be a strategy to manage online admissions. 

“The admission process is shifting to the digital space. There is a need to streamline and automate the process for counselors as well as students. Organizations are adopting an online student onboarding model that is also helping student counselors in closing admissions faster. There is a lot of personalization in the overall communication, and the admission process in 2021 will be even more evolved.”

Rajiv Swarup, Former President, Shiv Nadar University

So, what exactly is digital student onboarding?

Digital student onboarding is the admission process that takes place almost exclusively online. It starts with the student applying for admissions online and continues till the student enrolls into your institution. It involves several touchpoints, such as virtual campus tours, financial aid discussion & grants, checking eligibility, ID verification, and access to premises/online classrooms. 

How does digital onboarding impact student experience?

Let us take an example. Vivek is about to finish school and has started his search for top engineering colleges in India. He compiles a list of universities and adds your university to it. What’s more, he finds a way to access e-brochure, check eligibility, and apply online on your website. Just as he downloads the brochure, a counselor reaches out to him to guide him through his career goals and the admission process. This response is a positive student experience for Vivek. It gives him an impression that you care for him. In a way, it gives you a competitive advantage over other colleges that did not respond to his query.

Let us now say that Vivek has decided to enroll in one of your courses. Now, instead of filling lengthy forms, he can complete the application online and submit the documents. Next, you can verify the documents, check eligibility and approve his admission. 

What used to take days and months and multiple campus visits is now possible in just a few clicks. Thus, digital onboarding plays an important role in enhancing the student experience. 

However, the typical admission journey is long and complicated, with many steps involved in between. You have to cross several milestones to lead a student through enrollment. You must offer a personalized and enriching student experience throughout the journey. It is possible through an omnichannel approach to learner engagement and using a centralized lead management system.

6 Effective strategies to enhance student experience during admissions

1. Omni-channel student inquiry capture:

Capture leads from all sources, online, and offline with zero lead leakage and increase student experience by reducing TAT.

There are over a billion learners globally – each one looking for the right university for them. Gone are the days when colleges would find students through offline sources. Today, digital channels are becoming the most prominent source to get student inquiries. 

Examples of these channels are social media, such as Instagram, Linkedin, or Facebook, and third-party marketplaces or publishers, such as Shiksha.com, Collegeduniya, Sulekha, etc.

With so many sources, generating student inquiries might not be that hard. But collating them from different platforms could be tedious, without an automated system. Also, tracking their status and following-up from individual channels can be very time-consuming and will delay responses. You will probably miss out on leads and follow-ups in the process, creating a negative impact on the student experience. 

Solution: Using an integrated education CRM can help capture all the leads efficiently. With multiple social media and publisher integrations (Google Ads, Facebook, Chatbots, Shiksha.com, Collegeduniya, etc.), you can capture student inquiries from all available channels into a central system and pursue each of them from the CRM platform itself. 

2. Entice students with creative marketing campaigns and follow-through

Create best-performing marketing campaigns from pre-existing templates to attract more open and click rates.

According to Statista, the number of global email users is set to grow to 4.48 billion users by 2024. It indicates that Email will remain the most effective channel of communication between business and consumers. Thus, make the most of your email marketing campaigns. These tips can help. 

Marketing campaigns are not just for admissions but go a long way until graduation and beyond. Engaging with the student and parents along the student lifecycle will enhance the overall digital student experience. Great experience brings with it good word of mouth, which in turn, will inspire the upcoming batches to take admission in your institution.

So, you must identify the best offers, A/B test emails, ads, landing pages and find the best marketing channels for effective communication with students. Remember that the first impression matters the most. With the right messaging, you can improve the admission rate to a great extent. However, one must also remember that no matter how good a campaign is, delivering what is promised in your campaign will lead to a good student admission experience.

3. Use relevant, action-driven landing pages

Build visually appealing landing pages that have a high conversion rate.

A landing page is a standalone web page created specifically for a marketing or advertising campaign. Landing Pages are an effective lead capture and conversion tool. 

Universities can have landing pages for a specific campus, course, or offer. The messaging should encourage students to fill out the admission form. The following are the ways to create effective landing pages:

  1. Ensure your message matches your ads
  2. Keep the call-to-action above the fold
  3. Use directional cues to direct the eye
  4. Show your courses, testimonials from alumni to build trust
  5. Remove navigation and other distractions
  6. Use clear, compelling copy
  7. According to child rights NGO, Smile Foundation – 43.99% of students actively use smartphones. Therefore, make it mobile-friendly.
  8. Make it multi-lingual (if you’re targeting students across geographies)

But why do you need a landing page, and what role does it play in the student experience?

Building targeted landing pages makes your campaigns relevant for different courses, campuses, etc. 

In terms of your strategy, you could judge what works and what not while creating digital campaigns. Moreover, you would be able to generate a detailed report on conversion analytics for high and low- performing keywords, traffic sources, locations, and more. It can help you make data-driven marketing decisions. 

To make the most of your landing page, keep it precise. Having multiple lead capture fields will only increase the drop-off rate. To increase engagement, send an automated acknowledgment email to the student when he submits his details on the landing page. 

4. Boost student experience using paperless portals

Boost the student experience using paperless portals to map the end-to-end admission process.

Paperless applicant portals help make the application journey easy for students. For instance, a student-friendly form will always have a higher completion rate. 

Paperless application portals have two-fold benefits. It lets students apply online – without having to wait in queues just for submitting the application form. And it makes it easy for the counselor to fetch the student information in the correct format. Moreover, you can access the data for multiple purposes – from checking eligibility to enrollment and placements. It eliminates the need for a separate data entry operator. And students don’t need to share the details again and again with the administrators. 

With the help of a student portal, you can: 

  • Create a responsive student application portal: Make it easy for students to manage their profiles, upload documents, get updates on their applications, and more. If they drop-off without completing the application, they should be able to resume it anytime. The portal also notifies your admission department/call-center team to follow-up with the students when they don’t complete the application. Plus, you can use the portal to convey placement and alumni-related information.
  • Design a mobile-friendly application: According to research from RescueTime, people spend over four-and-a-half hours on their cellphone per day. This reinforces the importance of a mobile-friendly application. The portal should allow students to upload documents, sign applications, check application status, and make payments from any device.
  • Power up your enrollment process with automation: An automated enrollment portal collects and processes all applicant details, documents, payments, and e-signatures, cutting down a significant amount of administrative work.
  • Collect signatures and documents electronically: While applicants can upload mark sheets, e-sign, etc., counselors can access those documents and save countless hours of paperwork. 

All of this will ensure that your digital native students can complete their applications with ease. Counselors can jump in to aid them only when needed. This can go a long way in enhancing the student experience.

5. Leverage digital touchpoints:

Use automation to engage with students by creating relevant touchpoints when they take a crucial step and show them you care. This will help with an enhanced student experience.

According to Chilipiper, contacting a person within 5 minutes of an inquiry increases the chances of conversion by nine times. However, it is impossible to sit in front of a system and send out targeted messages to students/parents who inquire about your courses. An effective solution to this is automating the touchpoints.

So, how to do that?

Use automation to build an engaging digital student journey – with minimum human intervention. So no matter how or when a student fills out a form, the system automatically engages with the applicant till a relevant student counselor reaches out to them.

For example, if a student signs up on your website, the admission management system can automatically send out relevant messages, such as welcome emails, brochures, and more. You can initiate this communication via WhatsApp messages, emails, or SMS. If the student does not respond, the system can send a notification to the admission team to follow-up. The point is – once you have identified different touchpoints along the student journey, you can create automated workflows for the admission process.

6. Prioritize student inquiries:

Nobody likes waiting. Prioritize the conversion-ready students first and boost your admission rate faster by enhancing their experience.

One of the biggest concerns for educational institutions is to figure out whom to approach first. How to prioritize student inquiries that have a higher chance of conversion? It is common for educational institutions to receive hundreds of inquiries/day during the admission season. And it is practically impossible to call every lead. 

Thus, it may result in missing out on follow-up calls and admission opportunities. A study by Microsoft reveals 56% of respondents stopped interactions with a brand due to a poor customer service experience. 47% of these consumers preferred moving to the competitor. These numbers are enough to convince you not to keep the student inquiries waiting.

How can you prioritize inquiries? 

Let me explain it with an example. 

LeadSquared Education CRM has a lead scoring mechanism. It lets you assign scores automatically to inquiries based on the courses explored, applied for enrollment, and so on. For instance, a student who has downloaded the brochure will have a higher lead score than the student who just browsed your home page. 

Thus, lead scoring helps you identify the students who are more interested in admission. This way, you can prioritize follow-ups with them. 

Also, you can segment the inquiries into specific buckets based on their stage in the application process (for example, inquiries, applications, opportunities, students, etc.). The CRM system automatically moves them in the respective buckets based on your interactions with them. This way, the admission counselors know how to assist the students and move them forward in the admission cycle.

The bottom line

India’s NEP and the change in educational models due to COVID have compelled institutions to adopt technology faster. Universities, Schools, EdTechs, and other educational institutions across cities, towns, and villages have started to adapt to the online education model. Seamless student onboarding experience and personalized treatment can help build your institution’s image as a trusted one and boost admission rates.

Although the education sector may seem saturated and dominated by leading players, the right strategy and tools can improve the student experience and hence, admission rates. 

If you are looking for a solution to improve the student experience, check out LeadSquared Education CRM. It has helped several leading institutions streamline their admission process. 


FAQs

What makes a good student experience?

The experience does not start only when the student pays the fee. It begins with the admission inquiry raised with the institution and continues till graduation. Here are a few things you can do to provide a superior student experience:
1. Respond to their queries immediately
2. Personalize communication
3. Address their grievances (after admission)
4. Help them achieve their career goals by supporting them in their pursuit.

How to increase my admission rates?

You can increase the admission rates by improving the student experience. Also, try to reduce the student TAT. Using the right set of sales and marketing tools, you can enhance the student experience and increase your admission rates. 


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