“Salesforce gives us a holistic view of student interactions.” - Kerry Donohoe, Dean of Academic Services and Registrar, UMass Lowell

UMass Lowell uses Salesforce to Build ‘One-stop’ Center Improving Student Experience

UMass Lowell is a growing campus, enrollment has grown by nearly 50% since 2007. As with most universities, providing timely answers to student questions is challenging especially during busy times of year. Students often need to visit or contact different offices to get their registration, bill payment or financial aid questions answered. Depending on the complexity of the issue, they might have to visit multiple offices and talk with many different staff members.

On the university side, there are other challenges. Tracking interactions with students across the Financial Services, Financial Aid, and Registrar’s offices is difficult. “When they were tracked in the SIS, not everybody could see the log—usually just one department,” says Kerry Donohoe, Dean of Academic Services and Registrar. If students went to a second department for the same issue, they often would have to re-explain the problem and the steps taken so far to resolve it.

The university’s leadership was determined to streamline the registration, financial aid application, payment processes and other student service interactions. With support from executive leadership, an Operations Planning Group of staff members from across campus departments, including directors and Donohoe, determined a “One-Stop” shop was the answer. Using startup funding from a Davis Foundation Grant, the university created The Solution Center to streamline and integrate all of those services in person, via email, on the phone, and through a new website. The project included re-designing business processes to improve the integration of student services.

“We took a look at all of the business processes and how we could redesign them to improve the student experience,” says Doreen Bray, Senior Project Manager with the Information Technology Department. “We determined we needed a method to track the many interactions happening with students. Why were students coming into those offices? What questions did they have? What were their concerns?”

The Solution Center was formed as a new department, and its cross-trained staff members are encouraged to make and implement decisions.

Using Salesforce and an outside implementation consultant, the university created a CRM to track student interactions, move cases along, and get a 360-degree look at each student who seeks assistance through The Solution Center. Students now check in through a UMass Lowell developed line-queue management system and are notified via email when a specialist is ready for them. They can access student services at a single location, the University Crossing student-engagement center, which is also home to the campus bookstore and other student activities.

When a student is called to the counter, the specialist handles the request and logs the interaction in Salesforce. “The specialists can see which interactions have taken place and what type of questions are being handled,” Bray says. The CRM integrates with the university’s email and the telephone systems, so when a student calls, the specialist knows who is calling and the service in question before even picking up the phone.

“Salesforce is the glue that holds it all together,” says Tara Krch, The Solution Center’s Director.

Since opening in November 2014, the center has logged more than 192,000 student interactions. During the first year of operations, 111,000 cases were resolved. In an effort to continue to improve the student experience, Krch and team are reviewing the data for trends. This insight will lead to changes in business processes, pro-active campaigns and self-service solutions that should decrease overall volume while providing improved service. Before Salesforce, tracking and metrics were limited and evidence was primarily anecdotal.

“With streamlined business processes and our integrated Salesforce application, The Solution Center provides an improved level of service to UMass Lowell students and other constituents,” Krch says.

“The university has adopted an enterprise CRM strategy and is building on the success of The Solution Center,” Associate CIO Lori Dembowitz says. Admissions has gone live with a Salesforce-based recruiting application, a Career Services application is in the works and new Corporate Relations functionality is in pilot.

Download a PDF of the complete UMass Lowell Success Story to learn more.

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