During these times of pandemic crisis, student recruitment for higher education across the globe has been hit hard. According to a survey by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), a leading organization that specializes in providing an analysis of higher education institutions around the world, 50% of the respondents believed that conditions arising out of the COVID-19 would negatively impact the number of student applications to their institutions.
Admission processes have been disrupted and it has become difficult to reach enrolment goals. Dealing with these changes and challenges gets even more difficult when higher education administrators are equipped with legacy systems that are not at par with the changing needs – predicting student yield, staying connected with prospects, and furthering the admissions process successfully.
The best way to ensure these challenges are met is to make use of the best customer relationship management (CRM) tools available in the market that offer support, added value, and transparency to all relevant data required to successfully enrol students of higher education for the coming term.
Many higher education institutions have realized that empowered with the right latest tools and technology, their admissions staff can be incredibly productive, taking care of enrolment issues from anywhere, anytime. With this changing mindset, they are embracing business technologies and moving towards adopting the right CRM tool, which if leveraged well, can not only help attract students but also make the entire enrolment process simpler, assisting in effective decision-making.
How does a CRM tool add value to your institution?
In general, following are the potential advantages that a CRM tool can offer for higher education:
Streamline the admission process: The right CRM software helps to automate various processes involved in the enrolment program, such as gathering information about the right prospect, storing it in the right place for easy access by administrative persons across the board, engaging with the prospects, interacting with them through social media, and generating higher lead conversions.
Keep track of student lifecycle: Using the CRM tool, the administrative staff can effortlessly track and manage the student lifecycle, right from the admission stage to graduation. It becomes easier to organize and keep track of student programs, personalize communication and leverage information from a central database system to customize, schedule, and trigger various admin-heavy tasks on a regular basis.
Strengthen relationship with alumni and donors: Inbuilt CRM analytics tool can assist in managing the network within the alumni community. Useful insights regarding donors and programs or campaigns that have been successful so far can be gathered easily. Automatic setup to disperse information about benefit programs and fundraisers improves communication and helps to stay connected.
Generate real-time reports for various purposes: Inbuilt reporting tools in the CRM system offer easy access to various reports in real time, based on which growth strategies can be formulated and informed decisions can be made. A 360-degree view of the reports can assist in seamless management of the higher education institutions.
Determine the best CRM for your institution
The main focus of a good higher education institution right now is to make sure that the software in use for administrative purposes is aligned to support the goals of the institution, which is growth, student enrolment, student retention, and success in the long run.
Yes, you read it right. Not only are student recruitment and admissions affected, but student retention is also posing a challenge in times of crisis. However, the right technological platform to smoothly navigate through and overcome these challenges will ensure the enrolment funnel is kept healthy and meets the desired goals.
There are a number of CRM solutions out there in the market. However, how do you determine which one is the best? Let us look at two CRM tools – Salesforce Education Cloud & Microsoft Dynamics CRM – both of which offer unlimited possibilities to boost student recruitment and retention. Hopefully, this will narrow down your concerns and help you choose the right CRM model.
What you can do using Salesforce CRM platform
Here is how Salesforce Education Cloud for Recruitment & Admissions offers complete insight into the enrolment funnel, boosting the recruiter’s productivity, and leading to demonstrable results.
Get a bird’s eye view of the prospect’s profile: Using the Salesforce CRM tool, avoid the hassle of moving back and forth between multiple systems to find the information on a prospect. All applications and data related to a prospective student can be stored in a central location, and can be accessed by various personnel across the board from anywhere, anytime.
Take immediate action and improve productivity: Performing various activities such as reviewing an application, updating a file, communicating with various departments as well as the applicants, can all be done while on the go, taking the recruiters productivity to higher levels.
A case in point is Algonquin College in Canada. There was a steady decline in the number of graduates, which is when Algonquin College decided to transform its employee experience by introducing a new recruitment program using Salesforce. A tailored recruiting application was built using App Cloud for iPad that automated student lead capture through the website and the social media channels of the college. Apart from this, lead scoring and segmentation was managed, targeted communications executed, and conversion targets could be tracked by the recruiters. The successful result of the transformation that took place was summed up by Doug Wotherspoon, VP of International and Strategic Priorities – “Our student recruiter productivity has tripled with Salesforce. What used to take weeks or months now takes minutes.”
Monitor the progress with ease: Track and manage the processes of the enrolment funnel easily. Reduce administrators’ dependency on the IT department of the institution and enable them to create their own reports and dashboards to measure their efforts against their goals.
Apply predictive analytics: Using Einstein Analytics template, Salesforce CRM model assists the recruiters to stay ahead in the competition and discover new qualified prospects to fill in the gaps in the enrolment funnel. Recruiters can take advantage of automated scoring as well as AI-enabled engagement capabilities to successfully turn the prospects into leads.
Here is how Taylor University, Indiana, used Salesforce Einstein Analytics to revamp its recruiting model that profoundly impacted its admission rate. Harnessing the power of analytics, Taylor University, changed the focus of its recruiting model from geography to academics. Once the recruitment counselors started to analyze what the prospect was interested in studying, recruitment statistics improved. With this fundamental shift, the university saw immediate results, witnessing the largest ever incoming class during the subsequent Fall intake.
What you can do using Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Leverage the powerhouse of automated capabilities offered by Microsoft Dynamics CRM to streamline the enrolment processes. Here is what can be done using this CRM software:
Automate administrative processes: Most of the usual routine tasks involved in admission & recruitment can be automated, leading to reduced processing time of the applications. Added bonus – administrators or recruitment officers will be able to reach higher number of prospects in the given time.
Offer personalized communication and enhanced experience: Once the essential processes are automated with the integration of CRM platform, virtually there will be no room for human errors. Administrators will be able to automatically keep the prospects engaged by replying to various queries, requesting missing information, sending notifications, and much more, thereby improving the experience of the prospective students.
The success story of Northumbria University, Newcastle, deserves a mention here. Using Microsoft Dynamics 365, Northumbria University revolutionized the student experience by developing a modern dynamic query portal that could provide the students with all the information. In addition, a lot of queries or inquiries were handled automatically. Counseling support was also taken care of by Microsoft Dynamics CRM tool. The students were happier with the speedy response, which made a huge impact on the staff as well.
Boost productivity through improved capabilities: Connecting the current Student Information System (SIS) with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, helps to streamline and optimize numerous processes involved in admissions and enrolment. This improves the capabilities of the administrators, boosts their productivity, and helps them reach the enrolment milestone faster.
For example, Edinburgh Napier University had a higher recruitment target that was to be achieved in a highly competitive environment. The university needed a comprehensive CRM solution that enabled them to successfully reach the recruitment target. The university’s existing CRM solution had limited proficiency; hence, they integrated it with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, which offered a wide range of prebuilt functionalities (via Accelerators) for higher education. The university was successfully able to capture all inquiries, automatically route or answer inquiries, as well as monitor, manage, and report the entire journey of a prospective student through the enrolment funnel from a single point. This led to guaranteed increase in performance levels, enabling the university to hit the recruitment milestone successfully.
Much uncertainty still persists as to the implications for higher education regarding the enrolment program. However, it is not complete gloom and doom for the higher education sector. There still exist a lot of opportunities to efficiently rise up to the situation and face the key challenges successfully.
A CRM system that facilitates and tracks each interaction with a prospective student, simplifies the admission workflow, keeps entire information on a prospect updated at a central point to be easily accessed across the board, and automates processes to improve student relationship will help tide most challenges. While we may not know yet what the future holds, it is better to be prepared and mitigate the risk of declining enrolment numbers using a comprehensive CRM system aligned to the institutional goals. The benefits – improved communication, higher admission rate, and a happy student-staff team – are worth looking into.