Only 56% of higher education respondents report that they have already invested in and deployed CRM. – Gartner

CRM Adoption in Higher Education

Image Source: Gartner

Higher education institutions consider CRM technologies a one-size-fits-all solution for success, but CRM initiatives are often plagued with myths. Without further ado, let’s dive deep into the three common misconceptions that threaten CRM success in higher education –

Myth 1: One CRM will do everything

Reality: You are likely required to work with more than one CRM

Customer Relationship Management is a thought-after business strategy and not technology. CRM vendors who have served many companies across industries have traditionally focused only on one aspect of the student life cycle. But if you look under the hood on many CRM products, you are likely to see that the products are pre-packaged bundles of diverse CRM technologies.

The point here is to not disparage these CRM products, but to confirm that relying on a single CRM technology – even that supports one phase of the student life cycle – is not practical.

The reality is, you will likely need more than one CRM technology at your institution. This doesn’t mean that the efforts to manage the number and variety of technologies aren’t worthwhile. The goal is to not end up with pointless duplication of technologies, which would then increase the support costs, making it harder to integrate and dilute skill sets.

Most Important Technologies for Higher Education

This research is based on Gartner’s annual survey of CIOs – that shows CRM is a Top Technology to Win

Myth 2: A Single CRM Platform will Ensure Data Integration Across the Student Life Cycle

Reality: It will take work to ensure integration across the student life cycle because multiple instances of a single product are common.

It is very common to witness institutions implementing a single CRM product across their institution by deploying multiple instances of that product.

Gartner has witnessed over 30 or 40 instances of the same product.

It isn’t wrong to have multiple instances of the same product, but the more you have – the greater degree of challenge you will have with data integration. This often happens mainly due to the siloed nature of work that is quite prevalent in large/complex institutions.

Data standardization is as important in this scenario as a multiple-product scenario. Make sure your CRM governance establishes data standards for the data you consider are core or relevantly essential for the 360-degree view. You must establish an effective CRM governance by involving the highest stakeholders possible (VPs and Directors) with the highest-level sponsorship.

Myth 3: A Vended Solution that Combines Analytics with CRM in One Offering is a sure shot solution to Ensure Student Success.

Reality: Many student CRM initiatives fail even when CRM is combined with Analytics tools.

There are several reasons student retention initiatives fail –

Data Flow Issues – Data flows should be well defined for your institutions’ roadmap to a mature CRM and Analytics practice. Integrate and design data flows from the beginning to avoid point-to-point interfaces between CRM and SORs, as and when possible to achieve a 360-degree view. The design should support a virtuous cycle of insight-driving actions that will require the use of modern integration technologies such as the Hybrid Integration Platform & an eventual build of a Student Engagement Hub.

Algorithm Issues – When evaluating CRM tools and Analytics, especially those that target student engagement and retention, you need to meticulously examine the underlying analytics algorithm for completeness and bias. Identify the challenges they are best able to be addressed and determine the limits of their successful application to your institutions’ requirements.

Workflow Issues – Workflow issues are often caused due to the failure to recognize the significant change management required to use the student retention CRM product’s effectiveness. Ensure that you include change management redesign as active elements of your project and that the stakeholders’ duties and responsibilities are very clear. When this is not done, it results in spotty utilization of the tool thereby causing failure to achieve your student success goals.

We’ve attempted to debunk some of the most common higher education CRM misconceptions. These are some common myths, but when CRM implementations are bungled – they can become self-fulfilling prophecies. Don’t let this happen to you!

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