#EMchat 43: #CRM in #HigherEd -Tweet of the Night goes to @lesteb

#EMchat 43's discussion was about one of our favorite topics: CRM in HigherEd.  We have had a couple of chats about CRM in the past.  Check out #EMchat 4: CRM I ,  #EMchat 7: CRM II, and Alex's (@AlexMWilliams_) post: "CRM 'til the end".

Tonight's CRM chat was fast and loaded with great information.

...and now, our Tweet of the Night!

Tweet of the Night: 

Tonight's TOTN goes to one of our newbies, Bryan Lester (@lesteb), for this amazing tweet: 

[tweet https://twitter.com/lesteb/status/248963597173149698]

RT if you agree! 

Tweet of the Night Honorable Mentions:

Fuji Fulgueras (@fujifulgueras), is on a TOTN roll lately.  We loved his tweet about CRM strategy:

[tweet https://twitter.com/fujifulgueras/status/248958855604744192]

Don't forget to RT if you agree! 


Stephen (@Ostendorff) is another #EMchat newbie that provided this great reminder about vendors and campus buy-in:
[tweet https://twitter.com/Ostendorff/status/248956749338521601]
Thank you to everyone who participated tonight.  Have a great weekend! Check out our calendar for upcoming #EMchats. 

CRM 'til the End.

I’m a communicator. I’m a collaborator. My greatest strength lies in my ability to interact with others and build relationships. While I think of it as a skill set, I also think of it as a blessing in that I’m so lucky that I have the opportunity to meet and connect with so many different people.

It would make sense then that I am fascinated with all things social and all things CRM. I’ve had the opportunity to use two different CRMs in two VERY different settings: my alma mater’s admissions’ CRM (EMAS) and SalesForce at a previous company. I have seen how these tools can be used effectively and also how they sometimes aren’t used to their greatest potential.

In the end, I’ve said it so many times. Don’t bother with a CRM if you don’t have a strategy, the team in place to get it off the ground, or the RIGHT people to manage it. Technology is important. But technology will never replace actual relationships. Sometimes we get so caught up in getting a job done quickly (although I’m certainly not undermining the overwhelming amount of work done on a campus), that we assume technology will take care of the rest.  Well, it won’t.

I’m excited to talk about CRMs this Thursday night at 9PM EST to see what tools institutions are using, struggles you have faced, and ideas you may have for enhancing communication both internally on your campus with staff and students and externally with prospects and constituents.

If you’re not that familiar with CRM, here are a few great posts that are worth reading. You don’t need to be an expert to have insight.

It’s Time to Put the Relationship in Higher Education CRM – Tim Copeland

sCRM: Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One BeforePeter Kim

The CRM Triptych and Overcoming Higher Education CRM Hype – Tim Copeland

Selecting a CRM Vendor in the HE MarketOvum

CRM for Higher Education  – Intelliworks (Dan Obregon) and DemandEngine (Tim Copeland)

…Yes, there is a Tim Copeland trend. Yes, I’m an unofficial fan. Does that make it official?





Breaking Down the Silos

{I wrote this post last September for my personal blog, but found it completely relevant for this week's #EMchat!}

Silos are good for a few things, none of which involve operating a successful business—unless of course, you’re a farmer or a silo salesman.  Their purpose is to store things, to contain things, and to prevent anyone or thing on the outside from getting in.

Silos have no place in business.  And yet, they’re inevitable.

Institutions of higher education typically have an extremely diverse work force.  Professors from engineering to social sciences, maintenance workers, industry leaders, marketers, consultants, dining service employees.  These are the people who make up the web of an institution.  These are also the people who make up the silos.

When it comes to recruiting students in higher education, communication between various departments is absolutely integral to the success of a strategy.  In fact, pretty much all departments on campus need to work together to bring in the highest caliber students.

I was reading [yet another] great post by @Intelliworks today about difficulties in adoption when implementing CRMs (see it here!).  They brought up some phenomenal points on how to combat the issue.  But, even when it’s not a software product, the fact is that you can’t successfully implement any project or program without buy-in from other parties.

So how do you conquer this?

Well, there’s no simple solution.  But, promoting a policy of open communication across departmental borders is a great first step.  Yes, there are retention task forces and enrollment management teams comprised of individuals from across the campus.  But, monthly meetings and a review of the minutes can only get you so far.  Communication has to extend beyond the walls of a conference room.

One of my first posts (that I just realized was lost in my transfer from blogger to WordPress…) talked about my vision of an institution where all departments could have a hand in developing a CRM strategy—a CRM task force almost.  An institution that truly manages student information from prospect to alumni, and all of the milestones in between.  @KyleJudah responded that while it was a great idea, people just don’t talk in higher ed, and that’s the beginning of the problem.  He’s absolutely right.  But just because that is true for the most part doesn’t mean it has to be true forever.

What I’ve learned in my current position (that is completely unrelated to higher ed) is that you can’t get buy-in unless people fully understand and see value in what you’re presenting.  If you’re not passionate about something, you’re not going to get anyone else to be passionate either.  If you’re not willing to take the time to teach your peers, whether they be those in your office or VPs across campus, they won’t take the time to listen. 

It all begins with your personality, though.  Leave your office door open and stop in on others throughout the day.  Building your personal relationships with peers in other departments transfers significantly to your professional relationships.  Set the bar through your actions.  And because individual departments are usually extraordinarily close (especially in higher ed), your relationship with one person will enhance the overall amount of credibility and respect you gain with the whole department.

It’s such a simple concept but it can have such a huge impact.  We get so caught up in what’s going on in our own departments that we sometimes forget our role in the greater organization. 

Communication leads to collaboration.  Collaboration leads to success.  It’s time to break down the silos and get back to the basics of talking…or tweeting, or texting, or emailing…you know, whatever you do best.

CRM: Focusing on Internal Relationships First

I’ve read this post by Tim Copeland a few times because I think the points raised are really interesting, and super pertinent for institutions to consider before implementing (or even deciding to implement) a CRM system.

What stands most to me is Copeland’s second point that “Technology is only ¼ of the CRM success equation.”

There are so many factors at play in the realm of higher education that (like the government) it’s sometimes difficult to get things done—much less to get them done in a way that everyone agrees with.  You HAVE to get buy in from all parties involved. How will different departments be involved?  You HAVE to come up with a sound strategy on how to best implement the system.  Is your goal to boost enrollment standards?  Is your goal to attract a more diverse student population?  Does everyone involved have the same goal?

While these are relevant points to the success of the launch of your school’s CRM, you also need to think about how you will utilize the data once it begins to flow in.  How will you manage the data?  WHO will manage your data?  What will be done with it?  Institutions have to have a strategy before you even consider implementing, let alone purchasing. This aids in the development of goals and lends toward fewer issues once you move from point A to B.

But, I think the main question to consider is: Do you have the right people for the job?  CRM technology is only as good as those who operate and utilize it.  Is your staff dedicated to making CRM a success?  Do they understand how to use the data once it’s literally in their hands?  Most importantly, are they motivated to use this data to enhance the enrollment management strategy of the institution?

If not, you’re stuck with a computer, a fancy (fairly expensive) program, and a waste of time and effort.  People are the ¾ you need to make your CRM system a success.  So while CRM is there to help manage your external relationships, make sure you invest a significant amount of time internally first.

We'll be running an EM EdTech series in the summer, so I'd love to hear about your success stories, frustrations, and questions as we begin building it!


Lifetime Lifecycle

If you've hopped in on any of our EMchats, you'll know that there is no secret that I'm amazed (potentially in love? too much?) with CRM.  Combining that with my passion for higher ed, I can't see a more perfect position for myself than one that involves enrollment management, whether that's with an institution or firm.  Is this a plug to hire me? Perhaps.  Mostly though, I'm writing this post to share my experiences with CRM and one big potential idea for institutions to consider.

I was first introduced to CRM via EMAS, the software my institution brought online during my sophomore year.  I trained on entering basic information during telecounseling sessions with prospective students.  For the next three years, I used the system to update communications with these students, largely transferring written notes and forms to the program.  Not incredibly fulfilling.  But, that's what you do when you're a student.  And looking back, I realize that this seemingly meaningless task laid the foundation for where I want to be as a professional.

I had my second experience with CRM during my MBA program at the same institution.  I was lucky to have a phenomenal advisor who offered me the opportunity to design my own class as an elective.  I worked as a grad assistant for my institution's foundation and had the chance to see how relationships were tracked with prospective donors.  The idea of a different type of prospect (combined with significant experiences in other departments across campus) made me think about CRMs in a different way.  I no longer saw this as a solution for admissions offices.  I saw (and see) CRM as a lifetime solution as the student lifecycle never ends.

After designing the course and picking a few sources to study, I needed to think about a project.  As the Office of Advancement wasn't prepared to shell out a significant (and let's be honest, it's usually significant) amount of cash to purchase a system to replace excel spreadsheets and other software already in place--none of which provided CRM capabilities--I was left with a basic solution to show the potential.

Developers cringe.  Access.  And while the end product couldn't possibly offer the suite of options that come with a phenomenal product, think @Intelliworks or, now @HobsonsInc (check it out), it provided a glimpse.  I left the institution before data could be fully integrated, and although I'm just three hours away, without constant presence and pushing projects forward, they tend to remain stagnant or die.  It was a disheartening experience in the end, but we've all seen projects go by the wayside and realize it's just a fact of business.  In the end, I got an A in the class because my advisor believed in the project (and product) and because I expanded both of our knowledge when it came to CRM.

But, my idea isn't to come up with an Access program or have your grad assistants jump in with ideas that they think work better than yours...although it never hurts to listen.  My idea isn't really my idea at all.

One of the final IT courses in my program called on the students to create enrollment management plans for traditional and non-traditional prospective MBA students, connecting these with the EMAS system mentioned earlier.  For me, my experiences came full circle.  As far as definitions go, "traditional" students here were those matriculating immediately from undergrad.  "Non-traditional" were those  working professionals, distance learners, etc.  It's important to make this differentiation when it comes to grad programs because really, there are no "traditional" students.

So our class was split into teams focusing on either traditional, young local professionals, distance learners, and another group or two I can't remember now.  Our campus CRM manager came in and talked about how the admissions funnel worked, how it changed for graduate programs, and current tactics used to reach out to these prospects.  We learned about the CRM system and how it wasn't currently being used for graduate students.

That's when it hit us.  They wanted us to design the strategy.  And that idea? That idea was genius.  We were the research subjects.  We had one another's experiences with recruitment to look on.  We knew what worked for us.  We knew what communications worked and what didn't.

So we developed marketing plans for reaching out to these target audiences.  While we saw the end product of our plans, you can't implement suggestions over night.  This program was continued with the next cohort of students taking the next steps in the process.  I'm presently checking up with my institution to see the current progress/sucess with this program and will update on a future chat.

I know this post was long--thanks for hanging in--but the takeaway here should reach far beyond utilizing MBA students to craft EM strategies with CRMs.  It should reach to an area that touches on putting a great deal of trust in our students.   So, hold focus groups on residence hall layouts with freshmen, bring marketing and comms students on board to help create content for your SM, or ask them to come along on a few admissions road trips. Students are your best asset. They're looking for experience.  You're looking for advice.  In the end, you're looking at one another.

Feel free to leave your comments on both here and Twitter.  We love to keep the conversation going.