Three Top Tips to Optimize Higher Education Operations
By: Sharanya Venkatesh, Digital Marketing Manager, Wealthengine
In an earlier article, we identified the challenges faced by higher education institutions when it comes to streamlining higher education operations. Here is how you can address these problems and build a more cohesive set-up within your institution:
1. Use Technology to Simplify Constituent Management
Higher education institutions can use mobile, cloud, CRM, and big data technologies to eliminate data silos and get a 360 degree view of constituents. For instance, using Salesforce.org Education Cloud, you can collect data from every stage of the constituent lifecycle.
Using a cloud-based higher education CRM makes it easy to track your prospects, students, and alumni across their life cycles. This starts as soon as prospects begins to discover your university as a potential match. Screening prospects at this stage provides you with a fuller picture of who they are.
At the inquiry stage, data indicates what their likelihood of enrollment is. This helps Recruiting and Admissions teams become more targeted in their process. When a student is in the application stage, storing data in the cloud makes the process smoother for them.
For instance, let’s say a candidate calls their Admissions Coordinator with a question about extracurricular activities. With screening data stored in the cloud, the Admissions Officer can easily access information on their desktop or mobile device. If the candidate has a background in the arts, they can talk specifically about opportunities in theatre and successful productions that the university has hosted in the past. Further, they can access statistics on alumni who have found career success in the creative arts, thereby adding validity to their responses.
When enrolled, students can interact more seamlessly with your institution when you adopt mobile, CRM and cloud technology. Part of constituent management is enabling connections between students, administrators, faculty, advisors, and alumni. For example, Education Cloud connects all these constituents through custom branded experiences. When students have access to faculty and each other through a platform that is easily accessible on their mobile device, campus-wide collaboration is easily fostered. Further, when faculty, administrators, and advisors have access to updated student records, it becomes easier for them to identify any gaps in student performance and engagement. A central database allows you to notify faculty or advisors to address academic, social or morale related gaps before they become major issues. This can greatly improve retention rates and ultimately improve success rates, too.
Improved retention leads to stronger graduation rates, according to Campus Technology. This, in turn, leads to better career opportunities and more engaged alumni. The National Student Clearinghouse reported that there has been a 1.5 percent increase in overall graduation figures in a single year as a result of retention and advisory efforts put forth by these institutions.
Next in the constituent lifecycle is alumni relations. Alumni engagement officers can use a centralized CRM to maintain relationships with former students. They can also identify prospects for alumni giving while these prospects are still students.
Don’t get stuck with paper processes and reports that only show you past information. Use predictive analytics to find patterns among students and alumni. This, in turn, helps admissions officers. Would you like more insight into how campaigns and events are driving enrollment outcomes? Now you can understand applicant and enrollment trends across geographies, demographics, clusters of personas, and devices. Uncover facts and themes within your data to better focus your planning and better allocate budget.
2. Maintain Consistency and Personalization to Sustain Engagement
Engagement is undoubtedly a key factor for higher education constituent management. Engagement should be built into every stage of the constituent journey. The two building blocks of a community of engaged constituents are consistency and personalization.
Using a cohesive system within your institution enables you to remain consistent, even across multiple graduate schools, campuses, and departments. When data collected across the system is available to different departments, formats remain consistent and duplication is reduced. Furthermore, a CRM platform such as Education Cloud enables administrators to ensure consistency in communication as well.
For instance, institution-wide branding elements and communication templates can be stored in the CRM. Additionally, when advisors, faculty, and administrative staff have access to the same student data— student engagement can be consistent across the board.
Personalize the Constituent Experience in Your Communications
1:1 personalization should permeate not only communication but also the entire constituent experience. When student interests and problem areas are recorded in the Education Cloud, communication can be customized to address them.
Build personalization into every stage of the constituent journey to enable ongoing engagement. For instance, when alumni can connect with your institution easily, they are more likely to keep you updated about their career progress and whereabouts.
This means that alumni relations can work with up-to-date information. Their experience can be personalized by inviting them to events that are aligned with their interests.
3. Build Better Reporting
Fortunately, a cohesive CRM also solves reporting related problems at higher education institutions. For instance, Education Cloud houses data from all your departments under one roof. This means that you’re able to see the big picture in a way that you wouldn’t when data is siloed.
Moreover, when you set up systems to meet your needs, you can pull data in any format that serves your purpose. Questions can be answered the way you’ve asked them instead of you framing questions based on pre-constructed reports.
With data in the cloud and flexible dashboards, you can pull specific data points that you need for each report. This means that you can construct reports on the fly and share them instantly.
Salesforce.org supports several integrations with third-party partners, which means that you can append data from external sources that are relevant to your constituents. For instance, you could add data on the national average for graduation rates. This can show you how your student body compares to the average.
For more on how CRM can help your advancement team, read this e-book.
About the Author
Sharanya Venkatesh is Content/Digital Marketing Manager at WealthEngine. She creates thought leadership content and reports on industry trends and best practices for higher education and other industries. Prior to WealthEngine, Sharanya was an MBA candidate at the University of Oxford. Her career before Oxford involved working in marketing communications across various lifestyle-related industries in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. You can read her other articles on WealthEngine’s blog.
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