A CRM system is the technology that forms the foundations of university admissions. It enables higher education institutions to attract, engage and nurture relationships with prospective students and a number of other stakeholders—including enrolled students and alumni.
Image by CoWomen.
University admissions departments around the world have been leveraging the power of their CRM as they navigate the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
CRMs provide crucial infrastructure for collaboration and workflow management across remote teams by centralising information and making it accessible across a range of devices, including mobile.
Remote working was on the rise before the pandemic emerged, and it’s highly likely that the “working-from-home economy” will continue to grow long after it’s subsided—whenever that may be.
Sharing the results of the Survey of Business Uncertainty he runs with the Atlanta Federal Reserve and the University of Chicago, Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom explains that “the share of working days spent at home is expected to increase fourfold from pre-COVID levels, from 5 percent to 20 percent.”
Prospective students’ needs have also changed.
In light of the pandemic and the uncertainty it’s stirred up, access to the latest information has never been more key. A CRM for admissions makes it much easier to disseminate updates in a consistent and targeted way to different groups or individuals through segmentation.
With all of this in mind, it’s easy to see why the university CRM market is set to experience significant growth by 2026, according to a recent research report on the subject.
Recap: What is a CRM for higher education?
Broadly speaking, CRM technology enables organisations to streamline and automate processes. In doing so (and if utilised correctly) the stakeholder journey is significantly enhanced. CRMs typically enable the user to:
- Capture and store stakeholder information
- Automate the creation of content & comms
- Track, report on and measure data
Attributes of a successful CRM:
- Intuitive—Easy for employees to use with basic training
- Integrative—Able to integrate with other applications
- Mobile accessible—Can be accessed on multiple devices
- Customisable—Allows users to adapt processes quickly
- Future-focused—New features added and existing ones enhanced
Every CRM is different.
Among other things, FULL FABRIC’s solution for admissions:
- Allows candidates to access their application through a portal and complete it incrementally (with progress saved automatically).
- Enables university staff to customise and build the application process according to the needs of their institution with a “drag and drop” interface.
- Automates processes and drives up productivity, e.g. by proving useful content such as eBooks and video testimonials in exchange for prospects’ contact details.
- Tracks engagement in real time, including clicks, downloads and application submissions, making reporting and viewing statistics easy.
What’s on the horizon for CRM technology?
CRM systems have evolved exponentially over the past couple of decades. They began as a simple contact database where customer information is stored and today they are a critical component for the entire customer—or in our case student—lifecycle.
CRM companies will continue to invest in and leverage the power of AI moving forward. Increasingly, many are introducing AI chatbots to handle queries and requests, the results of which are captured and used to improve (as well as speed up) processes.
Chatbots are very convenient and easy to use, reducing the need for human interaction so that universities can spend more time on admissions strategy. They are also becoming more sophisticated in their ability to provide accurate responses to specific questions.
What’s more, prospective students can engage with chatbots at any time, which is particularly useful when it comes to nurturing international student applicants through the application funnel.
Chatbots also gather data which can provide an insight into common issues candidates are encountering when they engage with your institution online. For instance, you might find that your COVID-19 advice page might not be easy to find and needs repositioning on your website.
It'll also be interesting to see how CRM technology integrates with social media in the short to medium-term. By merging the two, organisations—including higher education institutions—can personalise communications even further and keep engagement levels high.
To compete in an increasingly competitive and disrupted market, universities should seek to leverage all the tools in their CRM’s arsenal. Your CRM will prove vital when it comes to enabling your staff to collaborate remotely and it has the power keep your institution in the minds of prospective students.