October 11, 2012

Is Your CRM Making You More Efficient?

Oct. 11, 2012 at 09:12 AM | By Amy Thorton, M.S. | Comment Count

How we do CRM Implementation at Southern Miss

When thinking about how to effectively implement your customer relationship management (CRM) solution, it is important to review what your overall goals and objectives are for by asking these key questions

  • What type of student body do we want to attract and create?
  • How will implementation improve engagement and promote student success?
  • How will CRM shape our current communication strategy?
  • How will we analyze and measure the success of this implementation?


Lessons Learned: CRM Implementation 101

A mistake we made at The University of Southern Mississippi in our implementation was that we didn’t develop a comprehensive plan before moving forward.  This created issues when the number of our programs and prospective students grew faster than we could handle. 

We also learned that it is just as important to consider your resources as it is your goals.  In theory, it’s nice to think it is possible to facilitate all the functionality within a CRM from the very beginning. Realistically, its best to give some preliminary thought into how this can be achieved. 

A quick rule of thumb: it’s better to use a few functions within your CRM well rather than use all of the functions poorly. 

Your goals come into play here when trying to decide which functions are most appropriate to start off.  Begin by evaluating all of the functionality available within your CRM and line those functions up with your goals and objectives. Create a quick matrix like this one to get started.

The next step in your implementation process should be to develop a three to five year strategic plan to map out how you will achieve these goals and how functionality will be incorporated to do this.  Keep in mind that an effective strategic plan is a dynamic, living document open to collaboration.

Once you have your strategic plan in place, it is important to ensure that the CRM is making your processes more efficient, not just adding to your daily task list.  At Southern Miss, we use our CRM to manage the marketing and recruitment efforts for our fully online programs. Since 2009, our CRM use has grown tremendously.  We started with a single inquiry form for one program and have since grown to over thirty inquiry forms and thirty online programs. 

Additionally, because of limited resources everything we do has to be scalable.  Using communication plans and workflow alerts, we have developed strategies that allow the CRM to work for us.

In short, having a CRM is a necessary tool when developing a successful marketing and recruitment strategy; just make sure you’re running the CRM and it’s not running you.

What have you learned from your higher education CRM implementation? What advice would you give to those preparing for implementation?

*Amy Thorton is an instructional technologist for The University of Southern Mississippi's Eagle Learning Online. Check out her blog The Instructional Technologist’s Blog.


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