Who Are the Customers of a School or University?


As most readers will know, the abbreviation CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. Three simple words that actually don’t seem to be that easy to explain in the context of a school of university. Because, think about it: who are the customers of a school or university? How do or should they maintain a relationship with these customers? And how then to manage these? Three questions that I will try and address in this and the following two episodes of this blog. Today I want to focus on the question: who are the customers of an educational institution?

Most people who I have asked, immediately responded: “Their students, of course”. And although I agree that the students definitely should be considered as customers of a school or university or school, they are also definitely not the only ones. Of course the prospective students, who institutions try and convince that they offer the best education and that their grades and degrees are the most valuable, should also be seen as customers. And what to think of the alumni, who might be prospects for continuing education themselves, or could at least be seen as valuable contacts in the labour market, being potential ambassadors and first points of entry for discussions on how to align the programs of study with the need for skills and knowledge within the work field and/or for the provisioning of internship opportunities. Or maybe the labor market itself should be seen as one of the most important customers for universities and schools for applied sciences. Because isn’t it just this labor market what their students are educated for?

The Ministry of Education is in most countries the biggest source of income for Higher Education institutes. So maybe these Ministries should considered to be the biggest customers for Education… Or should it be the parents, who allow their children to go to a certain school? And how about the schools of preliminary education, that ‘produce’ students for higher and continuing Ed ?

Actually, I think the only correct answer to the question: who are the customers of a school or university, is: all of the above. Both students, prospects, their parents, the schools they come from, the labor field they hope to find a job after their studies, the internship companies they need to gather practical experiences, the politicians that provide the conditions and means for (higher) education… They all are the customers of a school or university.

And acknowledging this, you will find that different departments within the educational institution actually maintain relationships with the same customer groups (be it with a different view, coming from a different angle). A person who is an alumn and therefore a relation of the Marketing and Communication Department, might also be in charge of internships at a company that primarily does business the Faculty. And the very same person might be a prospects for continuing education at the same time or be the parent of children who consider to go and study at your institution…

So, when implementing a policy on how to serve which type of relation within a school of university, it is important to first realize the different categories of customers and to understand how they overlap. Because only if you are fully aware of these two basics you will be able to construct the right fundament for a CRM implementation in Education.




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This entry was posted on June 19, 2015 by in Relationship Management and tagged , .


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