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Who is the Constituent in CRM?

In an earlier blog, I noted that different administrative units within a Higher Education institution focused on different constituents. I have also discussed that CRM systems, in general, were designed as a sales and marketing tool and it was no surprise that managing relationships with prospective students and prospective or current donors is where a CRM solution may fit in nicely.

And it becomes quickly apparent that implementing a CRM solution for a specific administrative office, such as Recruiting and Admissions or Advancement (or both), introduces a complex set of issues concerning the definition of constituent.

Blocks for Customer-Managed Relationship Concept

Overlapping Roles

In the commercial world, company relationships fall into two major areas—business-to-business and business-to-consumer (i.e., retail businesses). In Higher Education, both types of relationships occur simultaneously.

For example, an individual can fill one or more of the following roles at the same time:

  • Prospective Student
  • Student
  • Alumnus
  • Donor
  • Employer/Employer Contact
  • Parent
  • Employee (faculty and staff)

In addition, an individual may have a relationship with one or more of the following that in turn have a relationship with the institution:

  • Company
  • Government entity
  • Foundation
  • Public or private high school

Enterprise CRM: Too good to be true?

Within a single administrative office identifying and managing these relationships is challenging enough. If one takes an enterprise-wide perspective, the challenges become orders of magnitudes more complex from a business perspective.

Is it any wonder that software vendors offer solutions and service providers have practices that focus only on Admissions, Advancement or Student Success? If a vendor offers up an Enterprise CRM solution you may want to start by asking them how they define and handle multiple constituent roles and relationships. It is not the only question to ask, but it is a good place to start. It is also beneficial if the institution has agreed upon definitions and understanding of its complex relationships.

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