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CRM Not Just for Admissions

How Four Institutions Are Extending CRM Across the Enterprise

Tracking and managing student engagement across the student lifecycle has become a priority on many campuses. In a recent webinar, The University of Ottawa, Hunter College of the City University of New York, Monte Ahuja College of Business, Cleveland State University and Hiram College described how they are using CRM to not only admit the right students but to support them throughout the admissions and enrollment lifecycle, to keep them on the path to success.

Louis-Philippe (“LP”) Basque, CRM System Administrator and Analyst – SEM, The University of Ottawa
Jason Williams, Associate Director, Office of Student Communications, Hunter College – the City University of New York (CUNY)
Heather Schlosser, Manager, Marketing Communications,, Cleveland State University
Jana Willan, Associate Director of Admissions, Hiram College

Heather, what are some of the ways communications are changing at Cleveland State?

Heather (Cleveland State): I collaborate with a lot of folks across campus. Our study abroad team, alumni affairs team, university marketing team, advancement team. I know when their communications are going out. This way I’m not bombarding the business students with emails and text messages. I feel like the most important thing is to view our students as consumers and identify what content they want and when, and to not overwhelm them.

LP, what have you found to be the primary benefits of centralizing and tracking enrolled student engagement within the CRM at uOttawa?

Louis-Philippe (uOttawa): We saw that we had to centralize everything. We sat down with teams across the institution and evaluated how to input the data into our system. Once we did the evaluation, we could clearly show them their weak points and where they need to be in in terms of the data. Then we do big data analysis on that data and pull reports with Microsoft Power BI.

By doing that for the past five years, we’ve been able to focus more on retention. We have really good data in the system that we can take advantage of to focus on bigger projects such as retention.

Jason, we know that sharing, centralizing and analyzing data is a core focus of your unit at Hunter College as well.

Jason (Hunter College): One of the benefits that we have found is that we’re all on the same page now and using the same voice as a team. We try to keep our emails short and sweet and limit to one call of action, which is very helpful.

As a centralized team, we have a great working relationship, and it helps us to get things done in a seamless way. We also are able to balance and coordinate email deliveries. Since we send email for the whole division of student affairs, we’re able to see where other emails are in the CRM queue.

Heather, can you share with us a bit about some of the factors that you found are crucial to the success of supporting multi-departmental use of CRM?

Heather (Cleveland State University): It started with getting everybody together within my college to shift from a “my and me” kind of mentality to a “we and our.” When we communicate with MBA and graduate prospects, we now have more view through, more metrics, and more insight into their behavior. Other units across campus started to see us as more collaborative, more transparent. We have a lot of current students that attend events from other majors across campus.

Let’s talk a little bit about governance. L.P., how many users do you have across campus and how do you handle system governance at the University of Ottawa?

Louis-Philippe (uOttawa): We currently have around 700 users and 102 teams logging in to our system, but those numbers change all the time. We added another team yesterday, a completely new team from a sector. If you're not showing the users how to input data correctly or how to send communications properly, the data could be messed up. Or the school’s vision, image and brand will be completely different across each sector.

We put the emphasis on having power users in different teams, and making sure they are always in communication with us. My team analyzes their data daily to see how they’re inputting the information. You don't want to wait for a cycle or for a month to go by before you notice that a new employee is inputting data wrong.

Jason, can you tell us about how many users you have across campus and a little bit about how your team handles system governance?

Jason (Hunter College): At Hunter, we have about 400 users across campus. Some of those users are logging in daily. Most of them are logging in on a month-to-month basis. In terms of system governance, we do access on a jujitsu black belt level. We’re trusted users and everyone else is either considered a white, a blue, a purple, or a brown belt. That lets us say in a quick way to our team what access users should get.

Someone with a white belt may only be able to see event registrations. Someone with a higher belt may be able to create an event or ask us to add something to an event. That’s how we’ve broken up the system governance.

Jana, do you have any advice on how best to get started on gaining buy-in from other departments?

Jana (Hiram College): It all comes back to communication and creative problem solving. As we've been overhauling all of our processes and focusing on streamlining operations, we’ve been transparent about how much transition the admission office is going through and how it may affect other departments. So we asked how data is flowing into their department and how it’s being used as a recruitment tool. We also do test runs and continually check in for adjustments and fixes.

Also framing the inclusion as a benefit and ensuring they’re getting benefits from using the system is important. As long as it's mutually beneficial, it significantly cuts down on passing paper and emails back and forth and puts everything into an easily trackable system where we can see data completion and offices can be held accountable.

Heather, I know transitioning and gaining buy-in from other departments is not always easy.

Heather (Cleveland State University): It’s not. But it’s very much worth it. For us, the main thing is not making assumptions about what other people need or what other people are doing. And not making assumptions about what already exists in the system. I’ll give you one example. Having a contact attribute for a LinkedIn profile link. It seems like it's an obvious thing, but it wasn't.

As you’re communicating with your enrolled students, do you ask them for their preferred method of communication and if so, what do you find to be the most effective or preferred method?

Louis-Philippe (uOttawa): We don’t actually ask for their preferred method. All of our main communications coming from the registrar, from the university on deadlines, on anything that's academic is sent via email. So we have proof that it's delivered into their inbox. Either they viewed it, or it bounced and we try it again.

All other means of communication are a different story. That's where we explain to the teams that are pushing out messages to our enrolled population to try different types of forms of communicating, either by social media, student portal, or by email. The email itself is just one type of communication tool that’s out there. We try to slow down the use of it. We want our students to know that when they receive an email from the university that it's something they should look at.

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