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Expanding the CRM Vision in Higher Education

In higher education, the interest in CRM seems to be growing significantly. With Educause fast approaching, I am sure many vendors will be presenting their CRM solutions or announcing new capabilities. So what’s in store for the future of CRM? While not specifically for higher education, the article Why your CRM Implementation is Quietly Failing by Dan Woods provides some insight into how current CRM implementations could be improved. According to Woods:

 Most Customer Relationship Management or CRM implementations are governed by an incomplete vision, one that is far too internally focused, and as a result, they are quietly failing to live up to their potential. To get the most out of the massive investment that most companies have made in time and money, it is time to pursue a grander vision for CRM in which everyone who touches the customer is provided with help. This approach requires expanding the capabilities and the rewards that are typically associated with CRM.

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In higher education, CRM is many times associated with recruitment efforts and does not look at the full student life cycle. This seems to be changing, but there are a number of CRM products that are really marketing and recruitment automation. Therefore, it is important to understand how CRM is defined by the vendor.

How Changes in CRM Could Change Your Organization

Taking the broader view of CRM in higher education will require a change in the organization. Moving from managing students to a student centric approach will mean the breakdown of departmental siloes. What is necessary to make this type of change? A clear vision, roadmap to success, and the ability to change the organization are a good start. With the clear vision and roadmap, technology options can be reviewed and the best solution for the organization can be chosen.

Steps to Take Toward Change

It is important to factor in the time it will take to make this change. As Dan advised in his article:

While all of this sounds great, it is important not to get carried away. My view is that it may take years for a company to fully achieve most aspects of the vision that I’ve laid out here. But it will only take weeks or months to do the simple things that expand the way that CRM is used and to serve new groups of users. The journey toward a larger vision of CRM is clearly one worth starting as soon as possible.

Key Take-Aways:

  • Start with a vision of student centric service and how CRM fits into the strategy
  • Understand it will not be implemented all at once
  • Identify the roadmap and ensure early successes to help with the organizational change
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