Higher Education in the Covid Era: How to adapt for the future

Lokesh Mehra, Director of Global Admissions, ISBR business school, and Murali Krishna, Director of Sales Operations education, LeadSquared, talk about the state of higher education in India and how to streamline enrollment amidst the turbulent times.    

HIGHER EDUCATION BEFORE THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Just a while ago, things looked a lot different for students, colleges, and companies looking to hire graduates.  

Before the pandemic,  

– Students had the power of decision-making. They boldly conveyed to their parents their interests, courses, preferred colleges, and career.  

– Campus placements were participated with enthusiasm. Students were open to relocating for jobs.   

– The environment was extremely conducive for higher studies. It was easier for students to get student loans to study abroad.  

– More than 2 crore students applied annually to global, pathway, exchange programs, or higher education in foreign countries in 2020.  

IMPACT OF COVID ON HIGHER EDUCATION 

The biggest impact has been on the mode of education.  

With a lot of colleges, universities, and students ill-prepared for a sudden transition to an online mode of learning, there was pandemonium.  

Impact of Covid-19 on Education

For instance, 

  • Colleges and universities in India were not able to comply with AICTE requirements while conducting online sessions. 
  • It was very difficult for teachers to ensure the same quality of education in the online mode of teaching. 
  • The admission process also had to be restructured. 
  • The enrollment staff relocating to their hometowns created another operational challenge. 

All these challenges greatly affected education in India.

Covid-19 impact on Education graph

Amidst this, institutions like ISBR had to rethink their enrollment strategies to be able to deliver knowledge to as many students as possible, as online had, and currently has, become the new medium for education, business, and everything else.  

ISBR’S STRATEGIES TO CONTINUE ENROLLMENT DURING THE PANDEMIC 

ISBR realized that there was a dire need for change in the traditional paper-based enrollment process they had used before the pandemic.  

So, they decided to partner with LeadSquared to aid in creating a complete admissions platform for student acquisition, application tracking, student journey tracking, enrollment, and more.  

LeadSquared was able to help by automating the application process and student enrollment, and mapping end-to-end student journeys – inquiry, applications, counselling, and enrollment.  

Here are some aspects in which LeadSquared helped ISBR -  

  1. Lead Nurturing -  LeadSquared makes it possible to capture inquiries via online forms and create a nurturing or follow-up sequence with the student. Once the lead is captured and based on the information provided, LeadSquared enables colleges to follow-up/nurture students via email, SMS, WhatsApp, and phone calls. 

When asked why to lead nurturing was important, Lokesh Mehra said “Earlier you could have a student enrolled within 3 or 7 days, but there would be fewer students being enrolled. Now, the lead nurturing will take its due course of time. Instead of three days, it has gone up to 10-12 days, with higher chances of enrollment. So that’s where lead nurturing comes into the picture.” 

  1. Automation – Uploading documents, taking online tests, giving bonafide certificates, paying fees, or collecting receipts must be automated as everything is now online. LeadSquared’s platform helps colleges by driving different levels of automation. 
  1. Skilled certifications - Future jobs will be skill-oriented and will require specific certifications. LeadSquared helps track progress, provides smart suggestions on further certifications, and constantly updates their mentors, thus improving the completion of skill certifications by the students. 
  1. Region-specific ROI Analysis –LeadSquared’s Education CRM Software also helps you to track which geographical locations you are acquiring students from. This helps you to target specific regions. ISBR found that Southern India, especially Hyderabad and Karnataka, has proved to incur higher ROI than other states. Therefore, they focused their investment on advertising in those regions.  
Region specific ROI

EDUCATION POST-PANDEMIC 

The Covid-induced lockdown ravaged the education system with schools closing and online learning nowhere near effective.  

Over 1.5 million schools across India closed down due to the pandemic.  

Only 24% of households have access to the internet, while only 4% of households have access in rural India.  

The Education Ministry’s budget for digital learning was slashed to Rs. 469 crores in 2020-21. 

The colleges or universities could provide further options of learning like hybrid learning or open book systems to keep on par with the changing expectations post covid. Digital transformation is now becoming a top priority in most institutions. 

LEADSQUARED’S SOLUTIONS FOR HIGHER EDUCATION 

LeadSquared helps facilitate the admission process through Application Management, Enrolment Marketing, and portals to enhance, ease and ensure that the student gets admitted seamlessly.  

Here are the solutions LeadSquared provides for higher education -  

1. Student application portal 

2. Counsellor and lead management 

3. Lead nurturing and marketing automation 

4. Centralized communication 

5. Publisher panel 

6. Integrators and connectors 

7. Reports and Analytics 

STUDENTAPPLICATIONPORTAL

LeadSquared provides a paperless application process where -  

– Students register on the website with a login ID and password to fill in all the information.  

– If there is existing data of the lead with LeadSquared, it will be auto-filled, saving students time. The form is auto-saved at each step. 

– Triggers will be sent to counselors if the student fails to complete the entire process. The student’s progress can be monitored by the counselors to guide them to complete their application.  

– Various payment gateways like Paytm, PayU money, and RazorPay are integrated to ease payments. 

During the application process, real-time notifications can be automated in LeadSquared. They are of 2 types: 

  1. Student notifications – The status of the application, like the application process, rejected, approved, payment paid, or any other related information will be notified to the student in real-time via email, SMS, or WhatsApp.  
  1. Counselor notifications - Any information which needs the counselor’s or the internal teams’ attention will be notified. For instance, if a student’s payment has failed, the counselor can get in touch with the student about alternate payment modes.  
Counsellor Dashboard

1. COUNSELOR MANAGEMENT  

All counselors have handy information regarding lead distribution, courses, etc.  

Leads are distributed based on the admission counselor’s skill set, program, and center.  

Smart views help the counselor with their work regimen/process. Whenever counselors log in, only relevant information like new students or follow-up buckets, or payment follow-ups would be provided.  

This ensures that the counselors adapt and utilize the system effectively to increase efficiency. 

LeadSquared also helps counselors work from their mobiles via an app, wherein they can call immediately to follow up on the students. The calls are recorded and tracked for training and administration purposes.  

Lead distribution and task allocation can be automated to save time and increase efficiency. In an automated process,  

● The first call will be taken by the admission officer in less than 15 minutes. 

● When a lead is created, a task is automatically created. 

● The counselor is automatically notified to follow up on the student. 

● In case of incomplete tasks, the reporting manager is notified. 

Career school management system dashboard

2. LEAD NURTURING AND MARKETING AUTOMATION 

As shown with ISBR, LeadSquared helps with marketing and sales automation to rope in inquiries through landing pages.  

Using visual workflow automation, the job of the counselor is reduced.  

An easy-to-use, drag-and-drop feature helps in lead nurturing and sending automated notifications and triggers.  

LeadSquared also helps with Google Remarketing and Facebook retargeting, with its automation features.  

LeadSquared creates customizable forms to help in collecting information from the student. These forms are of two types –  

  1. Put an inquiry form and get data into LeadSquared. Then, send a unique link for filling out the application. 
  1. Directly ask the student to fill in the registration form on the website and create a login ID to complete the whole application process. 
Lead nurturing campaigns

3. CENTRALIZED COMMUNICATION 

LeadSquared allows omnichannel communication.  

Depending on the student’s preferred media, WhatsApp texts, SMSs, and calls are automated to easily get in touch with the student. 

Once a student record is created in LeadSquared, all the emails, SMS, calls, and any other communication can be monitored. 

Centralised Communication

4. PUBLISHER PANEL 

LeadSquared also tells you which sources like Shiksha, CollegeDekho or Collegedunia have you obtained students from.  

Publisher panel, specific to Indian colleges, is used by the publisher or the partner to monitor, track or convert leads via a dashboard and login provided by LeadSquared. 

LeadSquared tracks conversions at the source level. Better leads can be assigned to a pro salesperson using LeadSquared’s workflow automation. 

Leads can be categorized based on their geographical location, and which form of social media they use. This makes it easier to track from which places more revenue flows. 

Publisher Panel

5. INTEGRATIONS AND CONNECTORS 

Any lead coming from the Facebook ad campaign or Google Ad words can be directly pulled into LeadSquared as an inquiry.  

The most recent addition to LeadSquared’s Apps marketplace is WhatsApp business integration where communication from a college can happen via WhatsApp. It can also be used as a lead originator.   

Tests, theme management systems, and ERP to track attendance can be synced to LeadSquared.  

Payment gateway integration is done with major gateways like RazorPay, PayU money, and Paytm. LeadSquared can track application payment status via the application portal.  

LeadSquared tightly integrates with all the major telephony providers in India. There is also a mobile app that can record calls. With Zoom integration, admission officers can conduct online counselling with students and parents. 

LeadSquared allows custom integrations via APIs. This means any third-party software can easily integrate itself with LeadSquared. This helps to establish a connection and pass data into the system.  

Integration with third-party software

5. REPORTS AND ANALYTICS 

LeadSquared provides lead scoring that helps you understand: 

  1. What type of leads can convert better?  
  1. How active is the student? 
  1. What is the engagement scoring of a student?  
  1. Is the student opening the emails or not?  
  1. Is the student clicking on the links of the email campaign or not?  

The scoring process helps determine which student is more interested. This can be used to prioritize which student should be contacted first. You can find more on how scoring works here

LeadSquared provides real-time reports to counselors and adminstrattion. The Reporting Manager is provided reports with a ratio of how many applicants have enrolled, and what amount of engagement is happening. 

Along with this, there are several ready-to-use sales and marketing reports available in the system that can help you determine your campaign performance and ROI. 

CONCLUDING REMARKS

The era of digitization is here. Educational institutions should adopt digital as quickly as possible to gain a competitive advantage. 

As plenty of institutions are trying to digitize their admission process by keeping track of students, regularly following up with them, CRMs have become a very useful and important tool.  

LeadSquared also helps digitize the enrollment process in higher education. Want to know more? You can talk to our consultants here! 


Speakers

Murali Krishna
Director of Sales Operations, LeadSquared 

Murali is the Director of Business Operations at LeadSquared. He has over 8 years of experience in sales and has led several teams during this time. Prior to LeadSquared, he was a Relationship Manager at HDFC Bank, where he mastered the sales process & pipeline of financial institutions. Of late, he has been extensively working with the education sector, helping schools, colleges, universities, and ed-tech businesses, fill more seats faster!


Lokesh Mehra
Director Global Admissions, ISBR Business School

Lokesh is a seasoned educational professional with over 12+ years of experience in both offline and online education domains. He has headed multiple sales teams in his past and has supported them in determining the new ways of increasing enrolments. He has worked with organizations like Flygrades, Don Bosco School of Management, Aakash Insitute, and a lot more.


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