Ann Handley said, “Make the customer the hero of your story”. It must be true and universally accepted because CRM is easily becoming the largest software market in 2017. It will most likely be the fastest growing in the years to come due to its rise in numerous industries such as higher education CRM.
Education is no different, apart from the fact that here, the student is your customer, not exactly the customer, but need to be treated like one. They are more aware and selective than before, need a fast answer to their queries and have plenty of choices, not just for the institution, but also for the medium of study. Schools need to adapt to this change in approach and hence are investing in the higher education CRM technology to stay ahead in the competition.
What is Education CRM?
It is really hard to define a CRM because everyone uses it so differently. In generic terms:
A higher education CRM is a software which is specifically tailored for the education industry to manage the whole process from inquiry to enrollment to alumni and beyond. Although there are many micro processes handled by the CRM, the most important ones are the applicant and inquiry management, student communication, admission notifications, enrollment management, analytics, and reporting.
Top 7 reasons why you need an education CRM
Tools are designed to make your life easier, the software is no different. Some of the aspects of the admission process can be managed on excel sheets, mobile phones and even in your email, but is that the most efficient way? No. Because these tools were not made to do what a CRM was made to do and if technology can help you fill seats faster and pays for itself, then why not? There are dozens of reasons why there is a need for CRM software for educational organizations. Below we will discuss the top seven pre-enrollment features which are a must have for any admissions CRM.
The inquiries can come from multiple sources like social media, website, phone, chat to name a few. The first thing you want is to capture them and keep them in one place so that no leads fall through the cracks. The second thing you’d do is to get back to these inquiries as soon as you can. In marketing terms, it is called speed to lead and in today’s competitive environment it has become one of the most critical aspects in inquiry management.
Education CRM should be flexible enough to integrate with all you lead generation channels including phone, chat, and email and notify your admission team to act upon the new inquiries instantly.
For multi-campus schools, distribution of leads can cause followup delays and lead leakage. A smart CRM will distribute leads based on a pre-defined logic so that the leads only goes to relevant admission officer based on zip code, city, the course of choice or any other parameter of your choice.
Understanding your applicants
Each applicant is different, have different motivations and intent. To understand them you need to know them and you can do that by tracking their behaviors and actions on your website and other communication channels. Student behavior tracking enables your admissions reps to have a context to their conversation with the applicants and marketing teams to fine-tune their marketing messages based on the data collected by tracking the actions of the applicants.
Apart from tracking the actions of the applicants, you can also score them where an important action like visiting financial aid page yields higher score actions like unsubscribing to weekly newsletters yields a negative score.
This gives your admission team an indication of the most serious leads and they can prioritize their tasks according to the seriousness or the activity of the leads.
This is probably one of the most important aspects of the education CRM – The ability to communicate at scale. You can’t reply personally to each and every query or concern. You need a virtual assistant who would answer the queries with high relevance and zero error.
The CRM’s have come across the long way and powerful automation and communication engine makes sure that you go beyond the generic – “Thank you for contacting. We will get in touch shortly” to super relevant and personalized messages on the medium of the applicants choice – email, text or social media.
Some advanced higher education software CRM’s like LeadSquared comes with a simple, drag and drop workflow builder where you can sketch the applicant and student’s journeys with ease.
Automate manual tasks using Education CRM
Life of an admission officer is tough. They need to handle various conversations at once. An ideal CRM will help them focus on counseling, not on mundane tasks like eliminating duplicate leads, maintaining ten spreadsheets for leads, communication, and follow-ups, setting up reminders on their mobiles and watches. Your CRM should be flexible enough to fit into your admission process, not the other way around.
One more important aspect of implementing the CRM for admission and marketing purpose is the dependence on the IT team. Although IT will be actively involved in implementing the software, you should not be 100% dependant on them to make the smallest of changes. This dependence can be eliminated by the workflow builders which allow you to create, modify or refine the process from the front end.
All in one communication
You need to email one applicant, text message the second one and call the third one. The ideal CRM will have all the communication mediums built in the system so you don’t have to leave the system and juggle multiple screens. A clear view of all the tasks and the functionality of calling, texting and emailing from a single view is what you need.
LeadSquared has a concept of smart views, where you can design the UI for your admission rep, without any coding or programming knowledge which allows them to focus on the most important task – Helping applicants and filling seats faster.
Seamless integration with the other apps
Integration of CRM with other systems is often a cumbersome and costly exercise. An education CRM should seamlessly integrate with your SIS to send and receive data seamlessly. Apart from that, it should sync with your email and phone as well.
Implementing CRM remains to be an uphill task for schools and universities but the scenario is changing and modern CRM’s with plug and play model are quickly becoming popular. They come with out of the box integrations for example – If you are using outlook for email exchanges. A simple package install will sync your CRM with the email server. It means you will see all the conversation in one view. Same is true for the chat, third-party websites, school directories, and your SIS.
“Knowledge is power”. You might have heard this, but it is not easy to extract the knowledge or trends from a huge database of the applicants and their activities. Some academic CRM’s give the option of custom reporting where you can see what you want to see – Admission rep performance, lead source attribution, campus performance to name a few.
In the end
Every school is different and have their unique admission and lead generation process. One size can not fit all. In the end, you need a CRM which fits your unique process without leaving a hole in your pocket. Implementing or even replacing a CRM is a painful exercise but if you map your requirements beforehand and find the right software vendor, you could be breaking your enrollment records.