CRM Processes in Higher Education

Higher Education Institutions worldwide realize more and more that a more customer centric attitude is essential for them to survive. Demographic figures show that in most Western countries the automatic supply of eighteen year-old Freshmen is desiccating and free MOOC’s offered by top-rated universities from other countries cause serious competition. Governmental funding is decreasing and since learning has become a life-long necessity, education is increasingly offered by different players, like corporate employers.

This essential customer centric attitude can be realized by implementing CRM strategies and supporting CRM tooling. In the last 15 years I have been occupied doing exactly this: implementing CRM in Higher Education, and that’s also what this Blog is all about. In today’s entry I’d like to briefly mention the areas of CRM application I’ve come across in CRM. The following list is not complete, but it represents the main areas and processes with regard to CRM.

Student Recruitment

Recruiting students today goes way beyond broadcasting marketing messages. It is no longer a one-way communication from university to prospective student, but a dialog around the theme study orientation. Prospective students are offered many different ways to learn whether or not the study of choice meets their expectations. The days of just sending off brochures in response to an inquiry are long gone. Students today are offered interviews with study coaches, can attend ‘sneak preview’ meetings and peer-to-peer communication, where current students or recent alumni play an important role, are facilitated. And the relationship with the Deans of the supplying schools has become just as relevant as the nurturing of the prospective students themselves. And finally, in Student Recruitment the focus is no longer on the numbers (quantity), but much more on quality, resulting in a true battle to attract excellent students.

Career Services and Corporate Relations

In this battle for excellent students universities and school sometimes go as far as to guarantee a job after graduation. This of course means that they have to maintain close relationships with the corporate world and the labor market they are actually educating for. Because their study programs must be relevant for their graduates to be wanted. And in the attempt to make study programs more relevant and to make sure that students will be really ready for the careers they are prepared for, internship and practical education in cooperation with companies is increasingly important. CRM systems are used to maintain the relationships between the Higher Ed institutions and their corporate partners. In many cases CRM then also contributes to identifying and serving strategic relations as well.

Commercially Selling Continuing Education Courses

Because the pressure is on when it comes to governmental funding and the (automatic) inflow of eighteen-year olds, more and more institutions start to (further) explore the options to commercially sell courses. The shortened life-cycle of applicable science and knowledge have caused that professionals have to keep on learning all their lives and this of course holds an enormous opportunity for selling educations. In the last two decades any commercial education providers have been founded for this reason, but recently more and more funded Higher Education institutions try and get a serious share of this growing market as well. CRM systems to them are a great aid in streamlining their marketing, sales and service processes.

Alumni Relations

Whether you see them as ambassadors for your institution trying to convince prospective students of the quality of your programs, or whether you want to reach out to them asking for donations, or whether you want to use their contacts to enhance your network in the corporate world… Alumni are of priceless value for Higher Education Institutions. And although the alumni engagement strategies in many cases still are to be defined, most institutions these days do feel the need to maintain close and personal relationships with their graduates, and therefore CRM systems are implemented to streamline the engagement.

Powering The Service Desks

In Higher Education institutes often multiple helpdesk like windows and contact boxes are in place. A Student Service Desk, an IT helpdesk, an Inquire Office, a Company Information Office…. Relations are often sent from one to the other, and information is hardly shared. By implementing a university wide knowledge base, linking the different websites to the different service desks and by actively stimulating knowledge sharing, many institutions benefit by implementing CRM in this area as well.

Much more…

Above I’ve mentioned the most common areas of application of CRM in Higher Education. While learning is increasingly becoming a personalized experience and the offering of education is becoming more and more data driven, soon the operations of Higher Education Institutions will not be possible anymore without having clear insight of both history, preferences and the potential of all constituents. CRM systems are a good candidate to fulfill this growing need for information systems capable of combining internal and external data sources and to transform this data into actionable engagement. As far as I am concerned implementing CRM strategies and systems should be considered a top priority for all HE institutions.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on June 21, 2015 by in CRM and tagged , , .
%d bloggers like this: