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“Salesforce understands our business. Education is very different than just any other business, so it’s nice to work with a company that understands where we’re coming from.” - Cristina Raecke, Executive Director of Marketing, FIU

FIU Uses Salesforce to Discover and Eliminate Student Issues

Even though Florida International University (FIU) is a large university, its Admissions Office lacked a customer relationship management (CRM) solution in early 2015. Admissions wasn’t the only department missing a CRM tool; other offices in Enrollment Services and Management were deficient as well.

The offices used a cumbersome human resource management system (HRM) that didn’t connect offices and their information, wasn’t user-friendly, and didn’t provide granular data. While the office could tally how many students contacted a call center, it couldn’t track why students called.

Some recruiters didn’t use the prospect feature in the HRM system because it was antiquated, and those who did just entered basic data without actionable details. The Undergraduate Admissions Office required a full-time student to load prospects’ information into the database and send emails and a separate system for communications, according to Dolores Medina, who served as the Associate Director of Enrollment Communications and Outreach.

“It was so clunky,” she says. “It was horrible. The user interface was bad, the navigation wasn’t intuitive, the customization wasn’t there. I couldn’t just create fields. I wasn’t able to do any automation or customization without relying on our IT department and waiting for a couple of weeks.” All this has a trickle-down effect. “You don’t help the student correctly,” Medina says.

One Stop for All Your Needs

In fall 2015, the university opened a One-Stop office that consolidated the customer service functions of the Registrar, Financial Aid, Admissions, Graduate Admissions, International Admissions, Scholarship, and Processing offices.

“The One-Stop is a better way to centralize the customer service areas for those offices, and to let those backend offices just do their job,” Medina says.

To provide detailed student records and connect the information between offices, the One-Stop office deployed Salesforce. Medina, who had some limited experience with Salesforce, was charged with implementing and customizing the system and given the title of Associate Director of CRM and Strategic Communications. With help from Salesforce expert consultants, she created a system that unifies the offices and provides easy and universal access to detailed information.

Now, prospect information automatically goes into Salesforce when individuals sign up for a campus tour and complete the “request for more information” form. Loading purchased names is easy—so easy and fast, in fact, Medina does it herself. Recruiters can (and, more importantly, do) easily track recruitment activities and prospects in campaigns to create seamless narratives that can be shared between them. “Because of campaigns, recruiters enjoy Salesforce and love being in there,” Medina says.

Using Data to Improve Processes

The One-Stop uses Salesforce to track each student case and analyze trends; Live Chat for communication; and Knowledge to publish helpful articles online. Because all backend office personnel have access to Salesforce’s granular data, they know why students come to One-Stop, and they’re able to proactively address concerns through communications and new processes.

For example, the Enrollment Service and Management and the Alumni Office received numerous calls regarding transcript requests and issues. Because of the Salesforce cases generated by these inquiries, the Office of the Registrar changed vendors and created a new process for accessing and dispersing transcripts.

“Our Alumni Office was getting bombarded with questions about transcripts, and when I mentioned we were switching systems, they were very excited,” Medina says. In July 2016, the office handled nearly 1,300 requests specific to transcripts.

In July 2017, that number had dropped by 55%.

Going Online

One-Stop isn’t the only area of FIU to benefit from Salesforce. The innovative FIU Online has used Salesforce since March 2010. It used Salesforce’s Higher Education Data Architecture (HEDA) as the foundation for its custom application, and uses Salesforce to track enrollment, and for human resource processes, financials, marketing campaigns, the student success coaches, and tracking the student funnel for the 6,000-plus undergrad and grad students who take classes fully online. This is helpful because, since 2012, the fully online programs have grown from 7 degrees to 30.

“If you’re able to easily capture conversations and next steps, students don’t get lost in the pipeline. And that extrapolates into giving excellent customer service,” says Cristina Raecke, Executive Director of Marketing and Recruitment for FIU Online.

FIU Online’s Student Support Services also uses Salesforce as its primary platform for handling cases and ticketing related to both on-campus and online technology services. According to surveys, 92% of students who used the service in the 2016/17 academic year agreed that the overall impression of their service was positive, and 95% would recommend it to others.

A Strong Recommendation

Would Medina recommend Salesforce for other universities? “Absolutely!”

She cites customization and ease of use. “Salesforce gives access to do things that, in other systems, require the technical folks to get involved,” she says. “That’s just amazing.”

Raecke mentions Salesforce’s longevity in the industry, reputation, and dedication to higher education. “Salesforce understands our business. Education is very different than just any other business, so it’s nice to work with a company that understands where we’re coming from.”

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