Why CRM Adoption is Important For Universities?

What is CRM adoption? why Universities should adopt a CRM? this article is a brief reflection on the adoption of a CRM system inside a higher education institution. The goal is to highlight some of the most advantageous aspects. There are certainly more reasons to add, for this reason, I await suggestions. As part of this process, I improve the organization (especially Admissions and Marketing) through the use of CRM (especially Salesforce) and analytics tools.

(Alberto Cecchi) Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a strategic process that helps to understand students’ needs and how to meet those needs and enhance the service. A CRM store and process information about students. Information could come from several channels, such as email, website, Whatsapp, chats, social networks… In the public/nonprofit/educational sector it is used also the term “Constituent Relationship Management” in order to underline the focus on service against revenue. Constituent describes the multitude of relationships a University could maintain. These relationships are with students, parents, faculty, alumni and others.

CRM Adoption In Higher Education

CRM in Higher Education institutions should know who their students are and what are their needs, desires, attitudes and requests or they will be losing students. Losing students or having unsatisfied students is the first clear indication that a CRM is needed.

To think about CRM from a technological point of view is a mistake. Universities should see CRM adoption as a necessary step to understand and solve the student’s needs. An effective CRM Implementation permit to University provides services that are exactly what students want. Using CRM universities will be offering better service to speed up admission process, retaining existing students and discovering new ones.

These advantages don’t happen by simply “activating” the CRM. CRMs are very flexible. It requires an important job of customization in order to meet specific needs of the institution that is adopting them. This aspect is at the same time the strength and weakness of CRM (see the previous post I did to help organize a CRM adoption).

A University reaching a good level of customization CRM is enabled to build a deeper knowledge of its target students by tracking interactions, experiences, and communications.

Usually, a CRM system replaces or connects existing systems. Inside an admission/marketing office replacement could be related to outdated software. CRM is used to create a central system that interconnects information needed to lead the strategic part of an organization.

Importance of CRM Adoption:

It is important that CRM adoption is used inside an institution where different offices are linked between them, these connections (though the CRM) can deliver an added value to the relationship with students. The common objective is to share as much information as possible. If this happens constituents can be serviced even better. A CRM also prevents different departments from contacting the student with the same information.

All stages of the admission process must be organized and it is usually possible to automatically enter data into CRM. As a result, potential students will be “monitored” from their first contact until the enrollment and all the later steps (up to when students become Alumni, that means forever). I used “monitored” because students’ privacy must be taken into regular consideration.

CRM Adoption Can Be Also Social:

Universities need to take part in the dialogue via social media to listen and speak with their constituents. Groups and Communities on social media are now seen as a source for the CRM. Social Media can create high-quality leads as well as student support. Being able to understand what students expect from the university will decrease their “turbulences” and will permit them to grab valuable feedback that matters. An efficient service delivered on social media guarantees that the institution will be easily recommended to other students’ applications, and this will grow the student base.

Best CRM solutions are integrated into social platforms, and allow to post automatically and manage all the different profiles from a single platform. CRM adoption could also alert in case of “opportunities” collect mentions and comments to let the university respond on time.

Metrics are critical and Universities cannot figure out results with common sense. A CRM gives instant metrics related to all the strategic aspects, once the CRM is configured this information is automatic. With a CRM it possible to create custom reports to better track metrics and reports specific to institution needs. Once a report is created can be used forever, can be also sent automatically by email with regular timing. from this point of view, it should be emphasized the great change made by one of the most important existing CRM (Salesforce) with the introduction of the lightning interface.

These reports could have also a unique characteristic: they permit us to know what to expect. A well-configured CRM can give credible expectations of the future based on past performances and past events. If history is recorded in a regular way, CRM can extrapolate that information to give a good preview of future. 

Benefit of CRM Implementation:

The last 2 important points to underline the CRM Adoption benefits are: University can save a lot of time by automating several operations. Institutions can spend more time increasing their services instead of passing the time doing repetitive tasks. With a CRM Universities can reduce costs because It permits also to have a comprehensive solution instead of multiple tools.


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Alberto Cecchi

Educational Consulting, international academic relations. Researcher in the new media, design and social media. Specialties: 15 years of experience as Lecturer at the Universities of Urbino and Perugia, Multimedia Design and Computer Science. Author of Books and Articles about Design, New Media, Internet Security Education (History of Cryptography).

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