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'Customers' all.. education is no exception to the compelling proposition of CRM
Focus on the customer --even in education!

Talisma Corporation, the leading India-based provider of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software for a wide range of industries, has recently launched a suite of solutions for the Indian higher education sector, flowing from the synergy with Campus Management,  the company's US-based owners ( since 2008), and integrating the power of email, phone, chat, SMS text messaging, print, portal, and Web self-service with a robust and mature Web services platform. ( See our story ). We bring you a special feature written by Talisma's India-based Managing Director:
The ‘Customer Focus’ Evolution in Education
By Raj Mruthyunjayappa
Managing Director– Asia Pacific and EMEA
Talisma Corporation Pvt. Ltd.
With the significant paradigm shift in the education sector worldwide, institutions are constantly looking for ways to capitalize on technology and enhance the effectiveness of their customer relationships. Collectively referred to as ‘Constituent’, the entire students, alumni, donors, promoters, faculty members, and administration staff members network today demand a more customer oriented approach to optimize the educational experience. The key to ensuring organizational efficiency and success within the educational space lies in adopting a customer centric approach that puts the customer first and continually feeds customer requirement. This White Paper addresses the evolving trend of Customer Focus within the changing educational landscape and how CRM enables educational institutions to better connect with stakeholders across the educational spectrum and achieve institutional success.

Constituent Relationship Management for Education
The Indian education sector has seen tremendous growth over the last few decades with India’s top 20 colleges and universities being amongst some of the largest academic institutions worldwide. With a projected growth of $50 Billion by 2030, the future of the Indian education sector is set to reach new heights. This large-scale growth will result in the significant increase in student numbers and the gradual rise in cost of education. To sustain growth of such magnitude, colleges and universities need to begin restructuring and re-engineering their operating processes to reduce costs and become more efficient while staying ahead of competition. While in-house solutions such as books\papers, basic MS-Word and Excel have helped academic institutions grow this far, to reach the next plateau and compete at global standards, a comprehensive technology solution is highly imperative. Having a focused IT strategy is today not only a mandatory business requirement but one of the key components in ensuring organizational success.

Developing the in-house technology capabilities necessary to achieve corporate goals is expensive, complex and time-consuming. With global best practices regionalized for easy adoption and customer specific applications that cover the entire eco-system of colleges and universities, institutions today have automated and optimized internal business processes in areas such as finance, grants management, student information, enrollment, inventory management, and human resources. These optimized internal business processes enable universities and colleges to focus on improving the quality of education rather than day-to-day operations. With education customers demanding more attention and immediate service, proactive institutions are now re-aligning their business practices to outsource internal business processes to external partners and are moving towards adopting a more customer oriented approach. Leveraging technology, institutions are turning to Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) software solutions to take customer focus to the next level. CRM provides an automated and streamlined business process that enable institutions to optimize their customer-centric resources.

Re-inventing the Educational Experience with CRM Constituent Life Cycle - Employing a constituent-centric approach, the CRM business strategy places the constituent at the center of the educational eco-system leading to effective processes, improved transparency and better governance.
A business strategy that engages all the constituents in the educational system including Students, Alumni, Faculty members and Staff members, Donors and Promoters, Constituent Relationship Management is a customer-centric approach that aims to reduce costs, increase revenue, identify new opportunities and channels for expansion, and optimize customer value, satisfaction, profitability and retention. With sophisticated CRM software solutions that feature pre-configured best practices, organizations are today able to achieve these goals. Recruitment, marketing, servicing the constituent and supporting the college\university eco-system are some of the primary areas where CRM plays a significant role within the educational system. Alumni management, lifelong learning programs and campus to corporate connect are some of the other areas to which CRM can be extended.

Given below are the benefits realized when educational institutions adopt a Constituent Relationship Management software solution.

1. Student Interaction with and between admissions, registration, financial aid, student accounts and housing offices.
2. Donor Interaction with the college or university from a single entity that has a complete understanding of their unique status.
3. Faculty/Staff Member Optimize interaction with departments administering benefits, payroll, staff training, information technology (IT), or facilities.
4. College/University Provides a clear and complete picture of each individual and all the activities pertaining to the individual.

Achieving Efficiency across the Educational Spectrum
Constituent Relationship Management can be adopted across the entire campus eco-system to achieve complete transparency of communication and information. Departments and offices work as separate entities in many colleges and universities today. Faced with divisional boundaries, it is often very difficult for these different institutional functions to focus on their customers in a coordinated fashion. By providing a common Constituent Relationship Management platform for customer communication and interaction, CRM aims to eliminate the organizational silos that hamper proactive interaction. CRM applications are also designed to increase the effectiveness of staff members who interact with customers or prospective students.

Benefiting the entire constituent spectrum that include students, alumni, donors, administrators, faculty members, the impact of deploying a Constituent Relationship Management solution can be seen across the entire campus eco-system.

Next Step to Success in the Educational Arena With a need for improved communications and interactions across the entire constituent spectrum, a robust technology to handle information sharing and collaboration is essential. A customer-centric approach propelled by technology, CRM offers educational institutions the ideal solution for better interaction and collaboration between academic and administration departments.

Employing advanced data integration and enhanced reporting and business intelligence techniques, CRM not only provides a better insight into student behavior but provides a means to understand their needs prior to and after enrollment and enables an institution to offer customized customer centered interactions and services at a lower cost. Enabling increased process efficiency and considerable cost savings, CRM enables institutions build strong relationships with the student community and stakeholders across the educational spectrum.

Creating a constituent focused institution is becoming the new mantra for success within the realms of the educational space. Institutions that adopt a customer centric approach will have a competitive advantage over other educational institutions in how they attract, retain, and serve their constituents.
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May 9 2011