Creating Value through Enrolment CRM at HE Institutions. Winning strategy to increase enrolments

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1 Creating Value through Enrolment CRM at HE Institutions Winning strategy to increase enrolments

2 Table of Contents Introduction... 3 CRM Adoption in HE Institutions... 4 Need of CRM in HE Institutions... 5 Benefits of CRM in HE Institutions... 5 Key Features of a Student Lifecycle CRM... 7 Considerations for Student CRM Investment... 8 Summary

3 Introduction The uncapping of student numbers was one of those rare moments when the UK government sprang a genuine and potentially game-changing surprise on universities. With this new policy change, there prevails a strong competition among the higher education institutions to attract and engage with both local and international prospective students. This decision to remove student number controls is a vote of confidence in the potential of higher education with freedom to recruit, transform lives, improve social mobility and raise economic performance. There lies a notable new opportunity for higher education providers stemming from the removal of student number controls is the expansion of pathway courses that prepare those who are not yet quite ready for higher-level study. From a marketing perspective, institutions need to review their strategy, their communication with prospective students and their distinctiveness in the eyes of this audience. Clear communication of the benefits they can offer students is the way to counter their competitors initiatives. According to Carl Lygo, Vice-Chancellor of BPP University, universities are being charged twice as much by Google to advertise to students after the uncapping of numbers - clear evidence, he said, that the market is getting more and more intense. According to the recently published UCAS report, the acceptance rate for all applicants in 2014 remained at 73 percent. This consistency between cycles in the acceptance rate coupled with an increase in the number of applicants resulted in an increase in acceptances that is aligned to the increase in applicants. The acceptance rate has still not returned to the level seen between the 2006 and 2008 cycles of between 77 and 78 percent. Figure 1: Applicants, acceptances and the acceptance rate Source: https://www.ucas.com/sites/default/files/2014-undergraduate-end-of-cycle-report.pdf 3

4 Despite changes in enrolment levels over the period, it is important to note that a significant gap remains between the number of applicants and those who accept an offer to join the courses. There may be a variety of reasons why an individual may not accept an offer after applying, for example not received proper support from the university during the enrolment process or deciding to withdraw from the process for personal reasons. Prospective non-traditional students think more like consumers, and institutions need to meet them through social media channels and engage with them more frequently through personalised communications to provide them with all required details to attract them to enrol with the university. In a rapidly changing economy that is increasingly dominated by technological innovation and ICTs, the universities need to start contemplating on how it needs to transform in order to take advantage of established and emerging technologies to increase enrolments, enhance learning and improve graduate rates. Technology Systems such as an effective Customer Relationship Management (CRM) can help universities to realise their vision and better manage the pressures that they face. A CRM system can help the university to: Communicate and engage more effectively with prospects, students, parents, staffs, tutors and the wider community Target specific groups in order to widen participation Provide an environment that meets the needs and expectations of prospects and students Improve the timelines and quality of information needed to support decision-making Connect with prospects and students utilising the latest technology and apps Meaningfully engage prospects and students through Social Media CRM Adoption in HE Institutions HE Institutions need to respond to the changing demands of their prospects in order to improve their conversion figures. Every enquirer is unique and the university need to understand each individuals requirement and respond to them promptly, using a variety of communication channels. Many universities have started to deploy CRM systems in order to record a full contact history of each individual enquirer and also to send out personalised communications at the relevant times. The utilisation of a CRM, that will integrate with social media and mobile apps is also important, utilising this functionality shows the potential student that you understand the types of media they are comfortable with using it, hence making your institution become more attractive to them. Marketing Automation is a key in order to be able to run communication campaigns to keep your prospects warm. You can set up personalised communication portfolios for individual prospects or groups of prospects on a calendar schedule and communication can also be triggered by response. The system should allow bespoke s and text messages based on department, faculty, curriculum or course. This is a key to achieving your institutions enrolment targets when the competition for students is constantly increasing. 4

5 Need of CRM in HE Institutions There are things that you need to consider when deciding whether the university would benefit from a CRM system. A CRM system will help you in: Building Relationships with Prospects How do you identify and meet your prospects needs? How do you follow up with your prospects? What practices are in place to deal effectively with prospect complaints and queries? Maximising your Market Awareness What is your approach to understanding the market? How is the target market identified? How are your services improved and new ones developed to better meet your prospects needs? Developing your People How do your people understand and assess prospects and students requirements? Are your recruitment methods ensuring you have the best person for each position? How do you ensure that your people are continually developing their skills so they can provide the best service to your prospects and students? Benefits of CRM in HE Institutions It is essential that in considering a CRM for your institution that you look at a CRM not just as a system but also as an overall approach to business and community engagement. HE institutions can benefit from implementing CRM systems that can help boost enrolment. There are two main aspects to CRM: relationship management and business/market intelligence. Significant benefits can be achieved in both internal information management and external interactions. Effective CRM can enable institutions to: Integrate information, knowledge, resource & record management to enable improved strategic oversight, risk management, financial analysis, reporting, cost savings and operational efficiency Support, manage and connect knowledge transfer/exchange, prospect and staff engagement, including facilitating the two way dynamic communication between institution and student Segment your prospects and applicants more clearly to enable a more focused, resource-efficient and effective marketing approach, particularly when linked to central marketing strategy Provide clearer channel of engagement and communication for prospects and applicants, enabling more confidence in the institution s management of the interaction and a sense that they are valued prospects 5

6 A repository where standardised communication pieces can be created and managed centrally, and made available to enrolment staff communicating with prospective students Access to detailed reporting and dashboards, to get a much higher level of insight into what s working - and not working - in the enrolment process Better communications within and between departments (enrolment, admissions, marketing, financial aid, etc.) Overall improvement in the number and quality of prospects enrolled at the institution In an ideal scenario, CRM systems can facilitate communications well beyond the recruitment and enrolment cycles. Best-in-class systems now embody a student lifecycle CRM approach, where the system can facilitate communications and engagement with students from prospect stage through alumnus. These student lifecycle CRM systems are built on a single student database to manage relationships with: Prospect Students Enabling enrolment teams to maximise the size and quality of their entering classes Enrolled Students Facilitating ongoing communications and engagement to maximise student success, retention and graduation rates Graduated Students Enabling universities to stay in contact with graduates, encourage institutional participation, mentoring programmes, internships, job opportunities, and other important connection points Figure 2: Student lifecycle 6

7 Key Features of a Student Lifecycle CRM A review of the latest Enrolment CRM functionality currently in use reveals why it is important for HE institutions to pay attention. Features of Enrolment CRM systems can include: Mobile Apps Mobile versions of the applications for both prospects and staffs, to enable system functionality to be available via mobile phones and tablet devices. Centralised Database A single, searchable database of information and history of interactions with each prospective student. Dashboards Detailed reporting provided in intuitive, easy-to-understand dashboards and reports. Ideally, report formats and data can be customised on a departmental and individual basis. Reports can often be scheduled to be delivered to concerned stakeholders automatically via on a specified day of the week or month. Knowledge Library Creation of a repository of approved marketing documents, to ensure that counsellors are sending out consistent, approved recruiting materials and re-use when required. Student Enrolment CRM Enquiry Management An automated system to record and assign incoming enquiries from prospective students based on factors such as university district, intended programme / major, or identified high priority characteristics. Online Application Processing The application form can submitted by the prospect through an online portal and can be validated, verified and scrutinised digitally by staffs. Event Management Ability to manage recruiting events, including sending targeted invitations, tracking RSVP s, tracking attendance, and collecting student feedback following the events. Keep Warm Hubs Ability to set reminders and ticklers for follow-up outreach. Automated Workflows Automated communications workflows that facilitate ongoing communications with prospective students via , text, social media, and direct mail. Figure 3: Features of Student Enrolment CRM 7

8 Considerations for Student CRM Investment As HE institutions reach the point where they are ready to acquire a CRM system, a number of important considerations emerge: Top management commitment The impact of CRM on a university can be dramatic and transformational. But educational institutions, perhaps more than most organisations, often face a great deal of internal inertia and resistance to change. For a CRM system implementation to be successful, it is imperative that there is buy-in at all levels. Without leadership support, the system will not get the visibility and resource investment required to ensure success. And without full support at the staff level, the process improvements offered by the CRM system could be greatly hindered. Commercial CRM vs. Education CRM Many universities have implemented leading CRM systems from the commercial sector, with successful outcomes. They benefit from the wide commercial acceptance and broad usage of the systems. But the systems generally require a significant amount of enhancement to address the specific needs of a particular university, leading to high customisation, long implementation cycle (1 to 2 years) and support costs. Additionally, these systems often are priced on cost-per-seat basis, so system costs will go up as usage within the institution grows. Alternatively, some vendors have developed CRM systems specifically for educational institutions. These systems would require less customisation, with much of the functionality required by a university available out of a box. CRM built for education institutions will offer some significant benefits to HE institutions, assuring that the core structures of the system will conform to the unique needs of universities. For instance, instead of data structures that address accounts, clients and contacts, student lifecycle CRM s can be built around structures such as campus, department, learning area, academic term, and type of award (Certificates, Diplomas and NVQ s). Integration with internal systems Another critical issue to consider is the requirement for integration of a CRM with existing institutional systems. If the CRM is considered purely for the Enrolment Management cycle, integration with existing institutional systems (the most critical of which is the university s Student Information System (SIS)), is not as essential as it would be for the current student lifecycle (from class start to graduation). It is important to choose a CRM vendor who has a track record of successful integrations with various SIS systems. As part of this process, university staff will want to carefully consider the integration points that will be required to get the most highly functional and streamlined CRM installation for their university. Universities may also want to consider opportunities to integrate smaller systems at use at the campus into the CRM. In many cases, providers of these systems will offer documented Application Programming Interfaces (API s) that will make integration fairly straightforward, and happily, many universities find that there are many manual processes in place that can easily be replaced by the CRM. A huge benefit of a CRM is the elimination of home grown processes using spread sheets, personal s, or even handwritten documentation. 8

9 Point solution vs. Student Lifecycle CRM There are a number of Student Success applications available to HE institutions that provide useful functionality for addressing retention issues. But these applications are generally stand-alone in nature, and do not function as a component of a comprehensive CRM system. By contrast, some vendors offer a Student Lifecycle CRM that goes beyond recruitment and enrolment, and extends to support and engagement of currently enrolled and graduated students. For HE institutions, the Student Success module for enrolled students often focuses on improving student retention, providing a number of mechanisms to communicate and engage with enrolled students. One popular function for enrolled students is an Early Warning System that identifies at-risk students while there is still time to effectively intervene. The Advancement module of a Student Lifecycle CRM system typically facilitates communications with students who are no longer at the university, whether they discontinued their studies or graduated and entered the workforce. The ability to maintain communications and engagement with these individuals can be beneficial for everything right from re-enrolment of students who dropped out to institutional participation, mentoring and job opportunities from successful alumni. Student Lifecycle CRM systems typically offer an integrated student database that allows a university to track student interactions from prospect to post-graduation. Even if an institution plans to implement these modules on a phased basis, it is wise to choose a CRM system that offers a full lifecycle growth path. Social Media At its heart, Social Media integrated into a university s CRM requires new thinking and recognition that the relationship balance with the prospect has shifted from the position where the university believes it controls the relationship with its communication directed activities, to one where the prospect is more proactive, part of a much larger virtual community and more intent on being heard and recognised as part of the enrolment process. Working in unison with such new technologies such as mobile apps you can help unlock vibrant new ways of understanding and connecting with prospects. You can use instant messaging set up community groups and chat within those communities all through a Mobile App or user portal for instance. Social Media integrated into a CRM is already providing staff and students with greater flexibility and access to information. More obvious benefits are that; communities can be built, groups of prospects or students can feel part of a special group, student champions can more easily be identified, we can begin to harness the power of knowledge sharing, marketing messages are amplified and spread to extend reach and impact (viral marketing). In addition, current and prospective student views can be captured, and comments listened to, helping to promote campus facilities and the benefits associated with studying at the university. News feeds utilising Facebook or Twitter, for example can highlight activities and achievements of current or past students, thus further increasing the reputation of the university. 9

10 Business Intelligence Business Intelligence should provide your institution with the opportunity to make informed and improved business decisions. As part of CRM you will start to build a wealth of business intelligence about your prospects and students, however, this will only happen over time and you should not expect it to happen immediately. As a university you need to consider the information that you want to gather about your prospects, these decisions need to be taken before you consider a CRM System. A common error in CRM is that senior management asks for a report, which as an institution you are unable to fulfil because you have not historically captured the required information in a CRM system. An essential part of Business Intelligence and its integrity is to ensure that any data on the CRM system is valid data. You can achieve this through regular data cleansing. You can also implement this through developing clear policies and procedures for your system and giving comprehensive training to users of your CRM system. A CRM System can help you segment and target those prospects; skills-based routing and priority lists can ensure the priority students reach the right members of staff first time. Data built up in a CRM system over time can help to run effective marketing campaigns and reduce the cost of campaigns built on a whim. to relook at their tuition fee structure, and the idea of implementing a major new system may seem financially unrealistic. Fortunately, the cost of some CRM systems is coming down, and new, lower-cost systems with high functionality have become available. With the urgency to reverse downward enrolment trends, the investment in a CRM system is becoming more readily cost-justified for many universities. Often times, CRM s can pay for themselves in the form of enabling increased enrolments for an institution. Return on Investment (ROI) It is essential that as part of your business case you can provide information on what the university can expect in return for investing in CRM both as a system and as a culture. You could demonstrate this through the advantage of Business Intelligence that CRM will bring. When looking at ROI you need to consider the costs associated with CRM implementation, including financial, time and resource. It is essential that you consider CRM as an improvement in processes, rather than a fixed term project where at the end of the project ROI can be measured. It will be a continuous journey with improvements and modifications along the way. Cost Faced with diminishing financial support for students from government, HE institutions are invariably under tremendous budgetary pressure 10

11 Summary Enrolment pressures and the requirement to target the right students are leading more and more HE institutions to implement customer relationship management systems. With the availability of education-specific CRM s and lower-cost solutions entering the market, the benefits seen by other education institutions are becoming available to HE institutions. Many universities are viewing the automation of the enrolment process through a CRM system as just the first step in creating a lifecycle approach to communicating and engaging with students. About ProRetention TM ProRetention TM is a student lifecycle CRM solution, creating meaningful engagement for the student from the time he is a prospect to graduation and beyond. ProRetention TM eliminates uncertainties faced by universities and colleges in tracking, managing, touching and servicing prospects, students, and alumni. Phone: ProRetention TM is a product of ProRetention, Inc. A group company of QuScient Technologies An award-winning education solutions provider. 11

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