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University of Michigan-Dearborn

Personalization strategies boost student success, retention, and graduation rates.
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Executive Summary

“Student pride is strong at the University of Michigan (UM)-Dearborn, as exemplified by its motto: The Degree that Makes the Difference.

The University of Michigan-Dearborn is one of 15 public universities in Michigan. It has four colleges on its campus and had approximately 9,000 students enrolled in the 2020-21 academic year. It offers 98 major programs, 60 graduate programs, and six doctoral programs and has a student-faculty ratio of 16:1.

But despite that pride, administrators saw student success rates failing to reach their target.”

  • 20+
    University offices for student support

Students Thrive With Personalized Support

“In an effort to change the narrative, UM-Dearborn leaders embraced a strategic initiative to improve the student experience, identifying student retention rates and four-and six-year graduation rates as the key measures of success.

A key factor in achieving this student success goal soon emerged: leadership would need to offer students more personalized support. As Chief Information Officer, Carrie Shumaker notes, “Every touch that the student has with the institution is a retention opportunity and, if done well, will improve our likelihood of keeping the student.”

Previously, UM-Dearborn had employed a patchwork of siloed technical systems throughout its four colleges. No portal or ticketing system existed for students to use when they had a question or an issue. And while the Admissions Department was successfully using Salesforce, advisors and members of the Student Success team were relying on disconnected systems and outdated communication methods, including ad-hoc email lists. Administrators realized that, if left unaddressed, this fractured system would continue to create barriers to student success.”

“Salesforce has empowered us to fundamentally transform how we work together to support each individual student.” Carrie Shumaker, Chief Information Officer
University of Michigan-Dearborn

Harnessing Salesforce to Power the Student Experience

“UM-Dearborn’s RFP committee comprised 60 administrators, staff, and end-users spanning 20 offices. Working together the team identified Sales and Service Cloud, Experience Cloud, Marketing Cloud, and Salesforce for Education as the solutions that would enable them to:

  • Manage, track, and resolve student cases centrally
  • Execute a multi-channel, individualized communication strategy
  • Improve the advising experience for both students and their advisors

“Our 60-person, cross-departmental team all agreed that Salesforce is the best solution for driving student success within our university,” states Shumaker.”

Explore the Solutions:

Centralizing Case Management to Streamline Student Support

“Before using Salesforce, the UM-Dearborn team had little-to-no visibility into the type or frequency of student questions. Therefore, they were limited in their ability to provide accurate and trackable responses, which elicited concern that student questions could fall through the cracks.

Upon implementing Salesforce’s case management system, the UM-Dearborn team was able to establish a united front for student support across the 20 university offices, including enrollment, financial aid, and advising. Given the correct permissions, cross-departmental teams are now empowered to work together to effectively resolve student inquiries.

In addition, students now have access to a one-stop-shop where they can directly submit inquiries, eliminating confusion on both sides as to who should respond. And for students interested in self-service options, Salesforce offers the ability to provide multi-tiered support and knowledge management. For a quick response to simpler questions, students can read informative articles, create a case for a staff member to resolve, and will soon be able to use a chatbot.

“Salesforce is empowering us to work in a shared model to collectively help our students succeed,” – Cole Motley, CRM solution architect.

Taking a Multi-Channel Approach to Student Communication

With Marketing Cloud, UM-Dearborn can now effectively communicate with students in every phase of the lifecycle. Administrators are currently using this tool to communicate with prospects, and UM-Dearborn will soon expand its usage to connect with current students on necessary action items.

“One of the keys to success in deploying Marketing Cloud is that the tool and process are managed by our External Relations office – but done so in a very close partnership with IT,” says Shumaker. “Marketing Cloud provides a customized communications experience for each student, giving them a greater chance of seeing and acting on important information related to their student journey.”

Paving the Way for Next-Level Student Advising

In addition to enhanced support and communication, UM-Dearborn now offers a more custom, interactive advising experience enabled by Salesforce for Education. The tool allows advisors to access a dashboard where they can view student profiles (created via the organization’s case management system) that follow each student throughout their university lifecycle. The result is greater visibility and insight into the needs of individual students.

With the Salesforce for Education, students also gain added visibility. The portal lists their advisors and success team, while also offering them a simple way to schedule advising appointments, and make appointments with a range of student life offices such as disability services or career services. Integrating Salesforce for Education with case management in this way has proven particularly useful for students in need of academic intervention. For example, a student on academic probation will have a success plan, and their portal will remind them to make appointments with their advisors as part of that plan.

Driving Improved Retention and Graduation Rates

For UM-Dearborn administrators and students alike, the whole of Salesforce is greater than the sum of its parts. With their fully integrated suite of Salesforce’s student support solutions—case management, Salesforce for Education, and Marketing Cloud—they are empowered to respond quickly and cohesively to every student’s needs.

With Salesforce, UM-Dearborn is redesigning the student experience to include:

  • A single, coordinated approach to student support that spans 20 offices
  • A 360-degree view of academics, financial standing, advising notes, and more for each student
  • A central, streamlined portal where students can access information and get answers quickly
  • Self-service options that improve student satisfaction and lessen the need to open cases
  • Ability to tailor communications based on individual preferences, needs, and behaviors

“Salesforce has empowered us to fundamentally transform how we work together to support each individual student,” concludes Shumaker.

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About the University of Michigan-Dearborn

The University of Michigan Dearborn is a university that enrolls over 8,000 students annually that hail from every corner of the region, state, nation and world, coming together to shape leaders who address the complex challenges facing southeast Michigan and beyond.