Factors to Consider When Implementing a CRM in Higher Education

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In the previous post, we discussed why customer relationship management (CRM) is critical for higher education institutions. Just like businesses need to manage customer relationships effectively to stay competitive, colleges and universities need to manage relationships with students, parents and alumni to optimize recruitment, retention and alumni relations strategies.

The key is to choose a CRM solution that has the features and functionality you need to meet institutional goals. Before you can make an educated choice, you need to determine what your requirements are. Examine your processes and how data is collected, updated and shared. What areas need to be improved? What manual processes can be automated? What workflows should be streamlined? What reports do you create? What additional reports and analytics capabilities would be helpful? How do you measure success?

A CRM system is only useful if employees embrace it, so look for a CRM with a simple, intuitive interface that’s easy to use. This will also reduce training requirements and allow you to perform tasks with as few steps as possible. Instead of relying on marketing claims and screenshots, ask to see demos so you can see the CRM system in action. Security needs to be a top priority, so look for data loss prevention capabilities, a tested disaster recovery strategy and other security features.

Once you’ve chosen your CRM, keep in mind that implementation is more complicated than flipping a switch. The system needs to be configured to do what you need it to do. Business processes and workflows need to be aligned with your CRM. Create a timeline for the various stages of implementation, set realistic expectations, and build support across the institution so people understand the positive impact of using your CRM.

Before taking the system live, it should be tested with a limited number of use cases. End-users need to be trained. They need to understand CRM features so they can use the system confidently and improve productivity and efficiency. Without proper training, many CRM capabilities are likely to go unused. Set short- and long-term business goals to measure and maximize usage of the entire CRM system.

Once your CRM is up and running and end-users are comfortable with it, look to incorporate new technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). The more data you feed to an AI-enabled CRM, the more intelligent it becomes. The use of chatbots, which are capable of having automated chat interactions to help users solve problems, is expected to grow exponentially in the next five years. With the IoT, virtually any object can become a source of information. Using advanced analytics, an AI-enabled CRM that’s connected to the IoT can provide valuable, real-time insights into the behavior and preferences of students and alumni.

To take full advantage of a CRM in higher education, you need to be able to organize and centrally manage data from multiple sources. Let Axiom help you implement a fully customized, integrated data management system that helps you streamline workflows and manage relationships more effectively by bringing all of your data together.