By: Sara Mesonero, Senior Account Executive, S4G Consulting
For years now, we’ve been hearing that higher education is changing, at both the undergraduate and graduate level.
One trend that is unlikely to go away is the competition between colleges and universities for the same students. Increasingly, students are considering how easy it is to interact with universities when they select the university to be the door to their future.
Universities have already realised that creating a great student experience requires technological transformation, and many see Salesforce.org Education Cloud as a platform to give them the complete picture from recruiting and admissions to student success through to alumni and advancement.
As you may know, Salesforce.org solutions start with data models geared at specific sectors. One of them the Higher Education Data Architecture (HEDA) model, which is the foundation of Education Cloud. You can learn more about Education Cloud in French and German, and S4G has details about HEDA in Spanish here.
Salesforce Advisor Link (or SAL), built on HEDA, is a major step forward and one that will be a milestone in student engagement. If I cast my mind back to my university days, the first thing I remember is the sheer amount of paper needed for any process, endless queuing at the secretary’s office to book a time to see the tutor, queuing for any type of monitoring… and I certainly never had the feeling there was any customised advice just for me, Sara Mesonero.
What is Salesforce Advisor Link and what is it used for?
The Student’s Experience
Students need systems that enable easier interactions with the university, including:
- Management: to request class or timetable changes, seek a dossier or change of tutor, report an issue, etc.
- Follow-up: they want to know how their request is going, pick up dossiers, apply for scholarships, transfers and work experience placements, etc.
- Accessibility: students can make, track, and cancel requests from their phone in the same way as from a browser.
Because SAL is developed on the Salesforce Platform, students can access it whenever they need it from an iPhone or Android device, and get information right away.
Some of the Salesforce Advisor Link benefits for students are:
- Single point of contact: Through the student portal they can access information and view key points regarding their mentoring program. The portal is mobile-friendly and lets them not only view but create and edit key information and requests.
- Visibility of the assigned advisor or advisory team: whether they have a single advisor or a number of people. It lets them know their contact points based on their advisory function: technological, academic or tuition fee incidents, scholarships, mobility, etc. In fact, depending on the type of consultation, the team or individual will be assigned automatically.
- Booking meetings: Endless queues, getting to the office before it opens, having to sign a noticeboard to get notifications and schedule changes, etc. are a thing of the past. With SAL, students simply select a meeting time, review feedback sent by their tutors, communicate and time-manage efficiently and productively, without worrying about misplacing slips of paper or not getting notifications.
- Self-help: Through the portal, students can access the help section with information on campus FAQs, both general (documentation, campus map, administrative procedures, etc.), and segmented by student type (my subjects, my course, my calendar, etc.). SAL provides a single place to look for information, so they can use the portal to see what tasks their advisor has assigned and start a dialogue if they have any questions.
The Advisor’s Experience
To perform their role, advisors typically have to access several digital systems and search through papers to get a full view of students’ lives and provide complete advice. Add to this the fact that they often have other roles within the university, and there’s little time left to do a proper job of providing the personalised advice that every student needs. The result is that it becomes more of an administrative formality than a quality, customised service.
Salesforce Advisor Link means advisors have only one data source and establishes a communication channel between them and their students which facilitates student management and brings value to the sessions between the two.
It means advisors can focus on what really matters, report and scale their advice, and build trusting relationships.
6 benefits SAL brings to advisors are:
A single vision is not usually offered because of the large number of systems a university has – normally with no connection between them. But with SAL, anyone can see what’s happening with students without needing to access additional systems.
The advisory team may consist of one or more individuals depending on how the mentoring program is established.
It enables fluid communication for mentors and students as they can see answers to their questions, solutions to their problems and the person they should address – all from one place.
Standardised work procedures are established among all the mentors to unify goals and enable everyone to work the same way.
Early Alerts and Notifications
You can stay ahead of potential risks and formalities with your students. Whether manual, detected by one mentor to alert another team member, or automatic (arising from the management of other systems such as SIS, LMS or Salesforce itself), this will facilitate advisors being able to work more effectively.
Meetings can be planned easily by mentor and student alike, from a browser or mobile device, and reminders can be sent. Advisors can define session topics, establish availability and manage their day, consult notes and prepare sessions from a single location. Students can request a meeting, modify it and add sessions to their calendar from their phone.
Take notes and upload files that facilitate student and mentor follow-up. An all-around view lets you take the necessary steps, assigning or sharing tasks between teams.
A Personal Plan-of-Action for Student Success
Engage every student with a personal plan and see where the student is along that path. Success plans allow an advisor to create a path to success by documenting for the student and the student’s support network the road map the student should take to achieve his or her goals (ie. what are courses need to get a degree and the actual plan need to do so)
Organize Goals and Assignments
Document and outline activities to create comprehensive pathways for students to achieve their goals
Use templates to create plans, scale across onboarding programs and send text messages for deadline reminders
Thanks to Salesforce Advisor Link, the same message can be sent to various students who meet the right criteria, meaning advisors can create mass actions and monitoring tasks or tasks for students, saving valuable time and ensuring that students are clear on the next steps and plans for success.
Most universities have numerous systems: ERP, SIS, LMS, etc., and this is not going to replace them because they each have their role, but what is needed is an umbrella system whereby students, teachers, tutors and campus staff can work to build the single student vision from the time they start their studies through to when they end. And this umbrella is definitely Salesforce using the HEDA data model and SAL functionality.
One of its advantages is that the Salesforce Platform is customisable and includes additional functionalities that can connect the entire university campus.
The SAL architecture is as follows:
Because the Salesforce Advisor Link functionality is built on the powerful and flexible HEDA data architecture, it gives colleges, business schools and universities a complete view of the student across all the areas where they have a point of contact to guide them along the wonderful and important journey that is education.
Join our live webinar to see Salesforce Advisor Link in action during a live demo and learn about some of the key building blocks of student success and how universities can introduce them.
About the Author
Sara Mesonero is a Senior Account Executive at S4G Consulting, a Salesforce consultancy based in Madrid, Spain. Sara has over 18 years of experience in IT, including 10 years of CRM focused experience, and held multiple roles in consulting including as a developer, consultant and senior account manager. Her passion is to get education institutions and nonprofits to improve their processes so people can solve their daily challenges. S4G has helped schools with consulting and projects to improve student success. S4G is excited about opportunities to implement Salesforce Advisor Link with of universities and business schools, in Madrid, Barcelona, and beyond. Add Sara on LinkedIn here.