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Case Study

The University of Bath integrate Gecko with Microsoft Dynamics

CRM integration may have been the hook, it was only the start of the University of Bath's journey with Gecko. Here’s how they transformed their online events over the past few years...

The University of Bath integrate Gecko with Microsoft Dynamics

We know that CRM integration is a critical issue for higher education institutions. As with any business, the CRM is the core data hub. If any technology solutions can’t seamlessly plug into it then it results in manual processes, data inputting from spreadsheets, and low-value tasks that eat up all the hours in the day.

This is something the University of Bath were acutely aware of. They started working with Gecko all the way back in 2014, specifically because of the fact that we could integrate with their CRM, Microsoft Dynamics. However, this was only the start.

Over the past few years, they’ve leveraged Gecko technology to totally transform how they run their events. Now their events deliver on student experience, while also automating processes behind the scenes that save their staff time.

But first, let’s talk about the critical stuff, and that’s CRM integration…

Gecko
Dynamics integration was the key selling point, but we quickly started digging into the other capabilities of Gecko technology.
Gecko
Hugh Tonking
CRM Manager, University of Bath

Integrating Gecko with Microsoft Dynamics

The University of Bath first partnered with Gecko to improve the student experience at recruitment fairs, by collecting data and creating forms in order to college and store student data. Now, they use Gecko for all of their events, from campus tours and applicant university-wide open days, and have over one million syncs between Gecko and Dynamics. If you think that every single one of those could have been a row on a spreadsheet, you can understand just how critical that synergy between the platforms is.

Hugh explained, “As a university, we gather data from a variety of places; from admissions and recruitment teams, student records systems, general inquiries, and some manual uploads. There’s no way we would have the volume and quality of data without that integration.” And that’s possibly why, after seven years of fruitful partnership, Gecko now facilitates over 90% of touchpoints for Bath University’s applicant activity.

Gecko
Gecko’s native integration with Dynamics was a massive selling point for us. All of our contact, lead, and event data pulls through to Dynamics automatically which means we can focus on analysis, insight, and action.
Gecko
Hugh Tonking
CRM Manager, University of Bath

Transforming how they run their university events

Now let’s look at how the University of Bath applied Gecko technology to their events in a little bit more detail. The university told us how, when they first started using Gecko, they used it within fairly narrow parameters. Hugh explains,

“The original use of Gecko was very much about collecting prospect data, using forms to ensure it was consistent and securely passed to our CRM. However, we very quickly started digging into the other capabilities of the technology solution.

“We’ve gone from using Gecko within those fairly narrow parameters, into events management. We use it at the smaller departmental events all the way up to our largest university-wide events; it provides our sole booking process for our undergraduate open days, our biggest on-campus events. This year we’ve had to pivot very quickly to virtual delivery of nearly every type of event we run and Gecko hasn’t missed a step”

98%
of students found the communications sent prior to the events clear or very clear
82%
of students found it easy to book onto the event
1million
syncs between Gecko and Dynamics
20thousand
emails automated to remove the manual comms process

Challenges

Our Applicant Visit Days was a key focus of improvement we felt the system could help with. The invitation process for applicant visit days was historically handled independently by 18 separate academic departments. The process was extremely manual and the staff was spending hours processing invitations and doing manual event-based tasks.

The University needed to centralize and standardize the inviting and reporting process to give the departmental teams time back to focus on student engagement and experience. This was a huge change management process with concerns from academic departments over losing ownership of the event and from recruitment teams on reporting of information. Getting internal buy-in from stakeholders that using new technology was the right thing to do was challenging, and the team did experience pushback.

Solution

Partnering with Gecko and implementing the powerful Dynamics integration the university was able to demonstrate that many elements of the events process could be automated giving vital time back to teams. Those teams were able to focus on more practical elements of running their events; the structure, content, and delivery which were key to improving student engagement.

Gecko
Through the integration our event data syncs back to Dynamics, giving us live, up to the minute event data within our CRM. This is hugely powerful for reporting but also for more responsive and engaging communications with the students. With the conversion landscape changing rapidly over the cycle, this is vital.
Gecko
Hugh Tonking
CRM Manager, University of Bath

Impact

The impact on student engagement was significant. Saving the team a huge amount of time allowed them to focus on the event experience. In fact, 98% of students found the communications sent prior to the events clear or very clear. Prospective students now find it far easier to engage with the events hosted by the University of Bath and the overall experience has significantly improved.

Additionally, while the last few months have been tumultuous, because Bath had these sound digital processes in place, there was much less disruption for them as they pivoted to the virtual space. “We kept the same processes that we know. We have the same booking process, the same comms process, and all our data going into Dynamics. It sounds flippant but it didn’t change too much for us and most importantly we were able to continue delivering a great experience for our students”

They’ve also seen increased international student engagement at their offer holder days as a result of holding more events virtually. “All of our international students, who had never been able to take part in events like that before, were now able to take part due to the virtual delivery. We saw a healthy increase in the overall numbers as well as seeing that 16% of students at these events were international students. That’s a market that we’ve never been able to engage at this scale with this kind of event before.”

Gecko
Our applicant visit day events span across 18 departments and represent around 160 individual events. The management and the handling of all the associated comms is a massive workload. Gecko has enabled us to take out the manual comms process for those departments to the tune of around 20,000 emails. It’s meant that those teams and departments can now spend their energy on running the day itself - resulting in a much better student experience.
Gecko
Hugh Tonking
CRM Manager, University of Bath