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Student experience is a big deal, but what about the staff experience?

It goes without saying that higher education institutions’ priorities are often laser focused on the student experience, and with good reason. Ensuring students enjoy the best possible experience benefits everyone. It helps to drive enrollment numbers, retention numbers, student satisfaction and more. But in large and complex ecosystems like universities and colleges, student experience shouldn’t be the whole story. Staff experience, motivation and morale are also key drivers to institutions’ success. After all, one doesn’t work without the other. We take a look at some of the biggest challenges your staff face, how to address them and the impact improving their day-to-day lives has on the overall success of your college.

CRM frustrations

Your CRM and student information systems are arguably the two backend linchpins of student engagement. However, as expectations by students evolve towards greater digital communication, interaction and transaction through a wider variety of channels, CRM systems can often fall short. You could argue that CRM systems aren’t meant to be everything to everyone. Far better they function first and foremost as a relationship database, rather than an event management platform or communications channel, for example. Any mismatch between student expectation and digital preference vs. CRM capability can lead to admissions staff feeling increasingly frustrated.

Integrate to innovate

Integration is the answer to bridging the gap between current CRM functionality, satisfying your students and not only easing the frustrations of your staff, but empowering them to do their jobs better and faster.

By integrating solutions like a built-for-purpose event experience platform or automated chat software with your CRM system, you can capitalize on all the rich data held in your databases and use it in more powerful ways. And your staff can do all this quicker, more easily and more efficiently than before. Here’s how:

  • Removing the drag. Manual, paper-based, repetitive tasks such as transcribing student forms into CRM after a recruitment event is not only a joyless task for your staff, but this is time wasted for you as an institution. Instead of spending more time on higher value activities, staff are often bogged down in unfulfilling, repetitive paperwork.

A report by Ruffalo Noel Levitz found that activities such as on-campus meetings with students and high school counselors, overnight visits and systematic one-to-one calls with prospective students to gauge interest were deemed the most effective when it came to recruitment by over 90% of respondents. These are the types of high value activity staff could be engaging in far more frequently if they had more time.

  • Take the pressure off. Admissions teams and other departments often have to field large volumes of student queries. During recruitment events and on-campus visits the volume of enquiries can sometimes become very difficult to handle. Students have more ways to contact you than ever before, whether it’s traditional channels such as email or phone, or more recent means such as social chat, the increasing convenience of communication has led to an influx of questions; anytime, anywhere. Less formal channels such as text and social chat have also led to expectations from students for instant responses – information and answers on demand.

By using automated chat software (chatbot), you can take pressure off staff by automatically answering some of the most common questions your students have, such as ‘where can I find information on financial aid’ or ‘can you put me in touch with existing students from China’. More complex queries that can’t be answered by chatbots can be filtered and redirected to the most appropriate person in the right department. Automating certain types of communications removes unnecessary stress from staff, especially during peak times of the year. It also frees them up to spend time on more valuable activities as discussed previously.

  • Greater visibility: Give your staff better insight into the past interactions your school has had with students. With visibility of previous communications, and an understanding of where the student sits within the enrollment funnel, staff can cut to the chase and deliver insight, bypassing often-unnecessary pleasantries. By putting this kind of rich insight at the fingertips of your staff, you can make the process of planning campaigns and day-to-day engagement easier, allowing them to get much more out of student interactions.

Integrating your event and messaging tools also gives your staff the added benefit of more easily tracking their campaign success and ROI. By integrating with your CRM, you can tie communications and campaigns to quantifiable metrics such as number of applications, yield, enrollment numbers and retention rates. Allowing staff to clearly see the fruits of their labor helps not only with job satisfaction, but also gives them clear goals to track against.

  • More control: Give your admissions team the power to do what they need to do when they need to do it. Gone are the days where they need to contact the IT department or rely on a technical resource to do simple things like edit a registration form or amend an event description. With proper integration and the right solutions provider, you can give your admissions team the freedom to make a whole host of changes through an intuitive interface, which are then automatically and immediately pulled through to the website.

Student experience is crucial but it is also important to remember what the driving force is behind that experience and that is, of course, your staff. By choosing the right technology to integrate with your existing CRM, you can help make your admissions teams’ lives easier, improving morale and easing stress. There are tangible bottom line benefits to this too. By removing time-consuming, paper-based activities, your staff can spend more time and higher quality time with students, helping them to make the decision to enrol. It’s a win-win.