Does your school use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool? Are you planning on acquiring a CRM software solution soon? Or are you still on the fence about spending for it? Whatever your thoughts are about CRM tools, you’ve likely considered using one for your school.
And you definitely should.
Schools are purchasing CRMs. A good CRM platform is the backbone of successful school marketing campaigns.
What is it?
"CRM is a technology for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. The goal is simple: Improve business relationships. A CRM system helps companies stay connected to customers, streamline processes, and improve profitability." (source: Salesforce)
Basically, CRMs are software solutions that help manage customer data. It is a tool that can help you manage your school's current and potential families, as well as enhance staff collaboration. It can also help organize your school records, processes, and documentation.
You can get a CRM system that can be installed onto your staff's workstations or you can go completely cloud-based, which means you can only access the tool online through a web browser. The latter option is more popular because of its accessibility: you can log onto your CRM tool anywhere, using any laptop, desktop, or mobile device. CRMs are also available through different subscription plans.
What's at stake if you miss out on this kind of technology for your school? Your school will find it hard to compete with other schools that have one, which they can use to be more efficient in processing leads.
CRMs enable schools to develop relationships with prospective families and streamline the processes that lead to enrollments.
With a CRM, these processes are all data-driven, easily accessible and can be tweaked according to your requirements. These tools can consolidate almost all of a school’s interactions with its current and prospective families.
However, with all the capabilities of a CRM solution, it’s effectiveness is dependent upon how its users, mainly you and your staff, will utilize its functions. In the right hands, CRM tools have tremendous value.
Why Do You Need A CRM?
Consider how you interact with your prospects without a CRM. It looks something like this:
- On a regular schedule, you need to check all your channels (email, website, social media, phone call logs, visits, etc.) manually to see if any prospect has expressed their interest in your school.
- Once you find these prospects, you must make the effort to immediately respond to them.
- Whether they reply to you or not, you must also follow-up manually with them.
- You must stay on top of things on a regular basis to be able to offer them any assistance they might need as they progress through their buyer’s journey.
Now repeat this process for every prospect that has expressed interest in your school. And you need to be prompt and polite with your correspondence. And you’ll need to keep track of each of these conversations all while having to keep up with your other tasks outside of this process.
As your leads increase in number, so will the amount of work on your plate. And if that’s not enough, you also need to remember to adjust your messages to your individual leads depending on where they are in their buyer’s journey.
That’s already quite a handful of manual tasks. Inevitably, it may all end up to be unmanageable at some point.
With a CRM, you can automate all these tasks. Better yet, correspondence with your prospects can be customized based on where they are in their buyer’s journey. Here are just a few examples of what you can do with a CRM:
1. Build a list of new prospects
a. Those who expressed interest.
b. Those you need to contact.
2. Keep track of your interactions with each prospect
a. The number of meetings scheduled with prospect.
b. How many calls have been made to the prospect.
As your CRM tracks and manages all these tasks for you, you can then focus on more important activities such as building and maintaining relationships with your enrollment prospects.
We've previously discussed the benefits of automation for your school.
What a CRM Can Offer Your School
These days, the school marketing landscape has become very competitive. The growing popularity of CRM solutions has reached a point that if you want to get an edge over your competitor schools, you have to be running your campaigns faster and more efficiently. There are CRM tools that can assist you with this.
Whether you’re new to the concept of CRM or are still in the process of checking out the various CRM solutions on the market, it may not be readily apparent as to how you can harness its capabilities.
If you have the resources, implementing a CRM solution can be one of the best marketing investments your school can make. It can help you optimize your school’s marketing strategies, augment your communications with current parents and prospects, and boost the efficiency of your internal processes.
Some schools have deployed CRM platforms "for all the wrong reasons.” For them, a CRM is merely a tool that helps to send more emails to prospective families. Depending on how you envision a CRM solution, this actually belittles its various functions and is not a true CRM solution.
It can do more than just send out more emails.
Here’s a list of what a CRM solution can do for your school:
1. Connect With Families
The main purpose of your school’s CRM solution is to engage both your prospective and current families. CRM systems help you to better understand your prospects through their history and their current stage in their buyer’s journey. Your CRM tool creates and presents each relationship, accessible from a single, consistent interface called a dashboard.
Your CRM solution stores all information about your students and their families. It consolidates paper files into a single database which can easily be tracked and opened.
This centralized system empowers you and your staff to enhance your services by promptly responding to your families and delighting them as well.
2. Efficient Growth
As your CRM solution helps you align your school’s processes with how your staff operates, it also sets up an environment where they can become more efficient.
Here are examples of how CRMs can achieve this:
- Do away with repetitive, manual tasks and adopt automated workflows.
- Manage all your school’s workflows and processes from a single system. You can even assign each workflow with its own dashboard.
- Ensure successful interactions with your leads. Plot the “right message at the right time”. Train your staff to proceed through your workflows with guided steps.
- Improve communication and collaboration between your staff and departments. Share information on a single platform that all of them can access and view.
- Boost productivity within your departments. Your CRM can prompt you on what actions need to be taken or if there are missed tasks, saving valuable time.
3. Create Your Strategies Based On Data
Your CRM has a centralized database for your staff, faculty, students, and families. You can use this data to plan your next action when you want to interact with them.
As you gather information about your prospects and current families, you can learn insights that you can use to build your strategies and campaigns. Your CRM can then enable your school leaders to make informed decisions through real data.
For instance, you can focus your school marketing efforts on campaigns that resonate with your target audiences. You can then tweak your strategy to engage any non-responsive prospects.
These three benefits of a CRM solution are just a few examples of how your school can increase its overall productivity. There are other possible functions that can be acquired by customizing the system to address your school’s needs.
All the basics mentioned above are usually covered by available CRM solutions. For schools, it’s the process of managing your interaction with your current families and your prospects through processes, strategies, and technology. Its functions allow you to organize, automate, and integrate your school’s marketing, sales, and customer service.
Having solid relationships with your current families is paramount, after all.
Roadblocks To Implementation
With new technology comes great responsibility.
Even with the flexibility of today’s CRM technology, you can expect some roadblocks to proper implementation. These can be attributed to a CRM solution’s users. Simply put, the human factor.
Here are four possible reasons why CRM implementations tend to fail (source: DemandEngine):
- Poor planning
- Unfamiliarity with the technology
- Resistance from users
- Lack of support from school leaders
Additionally, your school’s own organizational structure may also be a roadblock. For instance, the different departments in your school each possess their individual processes as well as their own systems. Trying to integrate all of them will prove to be a challenge. Your CRM system will need to follow current processes or systems in order to operate smoothly. That, or you always have the option of redoing all of your processes which is not always recommended.
School leaders are responsible for deciding which tools your staff will use to make the process of winning over your prospects. These tools should make it as simple as possible. That’s why it’s very important for you and your staff to first identify and define the issues you encounter with your processes.
Adopting a CRM platform for your school may seem like an overwhelming challenge. There are so many factors to consider, many of which are user-related. Will you and your staff be committed enough to learn the intricacies of adopting new technology? Remember, you can only achieve the results you want if you select the right CRM and configuring it specifically to your school’s requirements. To make the most out of your investment, a CRM solution requires time, effort, and commitment.
We’ll discuss our recommended CRM solutions in another blog post.