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How to Transform Recruitment to Exceed Goals with CRM

Andy Jett and Kevin Kropf

Andy Jett,CIO and Senior Director of Admissions and Kevin Kropf, Baker University

CRM technology has become a critical tool to achieving recruitment goals and outcomes. Just ask Baker University in Kansas which saw its enrollment increase 17% in one year while budgets were reduced by 25%.

In a recent webcast Baker University experts shared how to transform your institution from manually-driven recruitment and admissions processes to CRM-driven strategies that help you meet and exceed your institution’s goals. Below are the highlights from the informative webcast Q&A.

What did you consider to be the most important features in deciding on CampusNexus CRM?

Andy Jett: Because it was SQL based, we knew we could do a lot of work ourselves in moving data around and making sure data was appropriate. We saw it as a tool that had enough flexibility that we could add things as we went along.

Knowing Kevin Kropf, Senior Director of Admissions and the way he does things, one of the questions on the application is what was your favorite candy bar? Or what was your favorite cereal? Asking a proprietary software company to give you that sometimes is difficult because they have their set fields and set ways of doing things.

We really felt what we saw in CampusNexus CRM was the ability to have significant customization not only just in the fields but in the processes and the work flows that we wanted to do. Again, it was the ability to integrate with CRM and the SQL piece, it was the customization of it and the customization of the work flow.

How are schools changing how they recruit if they want to stay more competitive in today’s market?

Kevin Kropf: Part of this is understanding your market. We look at the Wi-Chi data like a lot of other places do and look at the demographic changes that are coming in our primary markets and looking to explore for secondary markets that may pick up some of the shortfalls that come with that. I think that use of technology is a huge part of that. We’re using more and more text messaging to connect with students. We know that’s how we can reach students now.

When I started in Admissions in ’95, the phone was our friend and now I think students are a little bit more leery of picking up the phone. It’s harder to connect with them in that way. We know to connect with them we have to use technology in a different way. That means we rely a little bit less on print and we were forced into that with budget reductions but I think we still find a way to make it work for us. We’ve gone to fewer, better publications in part because we know it's the parents who are looking for the publications.

I think the last thing I would say about how doing recruitment is different, and I’m not sure this is different but we’re really putting an emphasis on doing things well so that we can get word of mouth. We want students to have a dynamic experience on campus to the point where they want to tell somebody about it. We want parents to walk away willing to talk to somebody about that. If we can leverage that word of mouth that’s huge for us.

Are the learnings or process improvements from recruiting able to be leveraged to other student lifecycle phases?

Andy Jett: We were looking at the easiest transition to Student Services, which is around retention of current students. We’re looking at being able to move that student data in there and look at grading patterns, and attendance patterns, and then being able to track anything about that student when they have trouble with a student’s particular classes and be able to track that type of interaction with any staff member and the student and create a way to locate those students that may be struggling before they hit the point of no return, so there’s that. Then there are just some of the operational elements like I shared about physical plant and other areas where we feel like we can utilize it to gain some efficiencies in workflow.

How long did it take to implement the CRM? What was the learning curve for the users and what kind of training did you provide to help them make the transition?

Kevin Kropf: When you say how long did it take to implement, we had conversations about a year out? Maybe a year in terms of the planning process and then in terms of the actual implementation from the go time it was a couple of months.

One of the challenges we faced as we implemented probably a month later than I think would have been ideal because we started running in the fall travel period. That’s one of the reasons why in the first year we probably didn’t get as much done as we could have in terms of having this off campus because we weren’t trained well enough in it yet. I think that’s one of the reasons why it took another year to see the success that we really were looking for.

A year of planning. 1,000 hours of planning work and after about two months we had things going pretty well. A few bumps and a few stragglers on the training process but from a training standpoint we did some things with Campus Management on our campus and then we did some things with the IT staff on our campus, to really prepare for the launch of that and to get everybody up to speed for what we were trying to accomplish.

How large is Baker University’s recruitment staff? How many recruit? How many stay in the office? How big is the IT staff that works on admissions?

Kevin Kropf: I have seven recruitment staff. I have a Director of the Campus Visit Experience who pretty much stays on campus and I have four operations staff, one of whom is the shared position with IT. We’re pretty nimble on the whole. There are just the 13 of us but seven recruiters, a campus visit person and four on the operations staff.

Andy Jett: On IT, we basically have a ¾ time role. It is really two people. One is ¼ time Assistant Admin that supports the shared position with Kevin in Kevin’s office and then another ¼ time staff time in the database management that’s simply the importing and purchase lists and data clean up issues.

Kevin Kropf: I’ll just add what I mention there, those staff members are just for the undergraduate side. That’s just undergraduate recruitment. We have additional teams as we’ve guilt out our Graduate School of Education has a team of three and our Wichita office has a team of two and the call center will be an additional one.

Was embracing change a challenge for you and if so how did you approach it?

Andy Jett: I don’t think embracing change for Kevin and I was a challenge. We were ready for the change to occur. I do think like any system change, there were individuals on both of our teams that needed some encouraging to see the value of the new processes and the new applications.

You talked about it was a collaboration between the two departments. How does one actually go about fostering collaboration?

Andy Jett: Part of it is a bit of a culture at Baker. Who we are as an institution, we tend to be very collaborative in working with each other. We’re a small institution so we see each other on a regular basis. We also were driven by a Board of Trustees who began early on in the process demanding significant data driven decisions and bringing Kevin on and him already having that mindset.

Some changes we made and things we did within IT to help develop KPIs across the campus kind of built a culture of accountability. We didn’t necessarily have some of the systems in place to make that really happen in a physical way and what CampuNexus CRM has helped us do in the short run in recruitment was provide that type of physical accountability for it.

Those who struggled with the change have seen the value and that’s where we worked very hard, in showing people value of the change that was going to occur. Some people just don’t want to change their processes because they see it is going to be a lot of work, and it was a lot of work there’s no doubt on anybody’s mind that it was an easy thing. It was a difficult process but I think after the fact people are seeing there has been a lot of value in the process and we continue to see that value.

As Kevin pointed out earlier, we continue to learn what CampusNexus CRM can do for us, we’re trying new things and I think having gone through that significant culture change from a very antiquated system to a much more dynamic system people are now a little bit more eager to say…Hey, let’s try something different. Let’s do something and see if it works.

Campus Management: One of the biggest areas where CRM implementations can be stresses is getting that adoption and the change management. We have often seen that the schools, and even outside of higher ed, other organizations who have succeeded at it have had the top down messaging about the importance of the CRM solution and really making people accountable to using the systems in the prescribed manner.

Celebrating the data that you’re getting out of the systems and holding people accountable to that and rewarding the behaviors accordingly, and using that as a mechanism to help drive those changes.

A lot of times if you don’t have that top down support either through a Governance Committee or the Board of Trustees like we have at Baker, you can have some challenges as you navigate that change curve.

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