Higher education institutes have seen consistent growth over the past few years. In fact, the global higher education industry is expected to see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.3% to reach USD 169.72 billion by 2028. Even the pandemic could not derail this growth story. So, does this mean that the higher education industry is without challenges? And why are we even mentioning this data in an article about the best CRM for higher education? Give us a few minutes to explain.
In this article, we will explain the challenges faced by the higher education industry, how a CRM or a customer relationship management software can resolve them, and then highlight the essential features a top CRM for higher education must possess.
But if you are already aware of these challenges and are in the market for an intuitive, enterprise-grade sales CRM, we promise you Kylas would be your best bet. Schedule a Demo and see it for yourself.
Challenges Faced by Higher Education Institutions
For a long time, higher education institutions were the only options for students looking to upgrade their skills. Enrolling in a Tier 1 institute would guarantee a well-paying job with a business of choice. Aware of this, institutes have spent considerably to build infrastructure that would cater to their growing demand over the years.
But the pandemic allowed students to study from the comfort of their homes. The institutes had to accelerate their digital transformation at a considerable cost while their existing physical infrastructure was lying vacant. But the students had already been moving beyond the traditional learning methods. Pearson’s 2019 global learner survey found that with the rise of Ed-tech and a significant increase in the worldwide student debt, students were opting for short-term courses over traditional university degrees.
Today, apart from the risks to its enrollment, higher education institutes are facing considerable risks that can impact their business model, reputation, operations, and compliance.
How Does CRM Software for Higher Education Help?
To overcome these risks, the higher education industry must empower students to create their own learning paths, leverage unconventional partnerships to bolster learning, and ensure the widespread distribution of education.
And above all, they must consolidate their disparate operational systems and gain complete visibility into all their processes and interactions.
This will allow them to predict and prepare for any risks to their business accurately. This is where a CRM comes in.
It allows educational institutes to realize the following benefits:
- Gain comprehensive business insights: Just like every other business, a higher education institute requires comprehensive business data to function. A comprehensive view of student enrollments, engagement, sales performance, and more. CRM allows businesses to move away from siloed legacy solutions. It creates a central data repository that can also generate intelligent insights. Institutes can use these insights to foresee risks and take appropriate actions well in time.
- Improve student experience: A CRM helps simplify, standardize, and personalize every student interaction. It also provides contextual information to your sales and support teams to make every student interaction count. You can leverage the insights to create a seamless end-to-end student experience.
- Enhance employee experience: Your employees, covertly or overtly, want to be rid of redundant tasks so that they can focus on their job of closing more student enrollments. A CRM allows them to automate these redundant tasks and create multiple workflows that make their lives easier.
- Increase business agility: Today, no business is immune to disruption, as the last few years have proved. The higher education industry, too, has seen its fair share of upheavals, and it might continue to see them as all trends indicate. So, adopting an agile mindset is essential for you to survive and thrive in a highly competitive and disruptive industry. And a CRM with its smart insights allows you to prepare for the worst and pivot at the first sign of trouble.
- Reduce costs: Implementing a cloud-native CRM allows you to get rid of expensive legacy solutions, and this eliminates the costs of maintaining a legacy solution and training your team to use them. By automating many redundant tasks, you can also reduce your operational expenditure.
What Are the Essential Features of a CRM for Higher Education?
Here are the top 14 features that a top CRM for higher education must have:
1. Capture Student Inquiries
A CRM should be able to capture student inquiries from its own lead capture form, various web forms, and multiple lead-capturing websites, such as Facebook, WhatsApp, JustDial, IndiaMart, etc. It should also allow you to upload leads from large databases and free you from individual data entry.
2. Automate Lead Assignment
The CRM should be able to automatically assign these student leads to your sales teams using pre-set conditions. For example, lead source, area, ticket size, urgency, etc. This will help you send the most important leads to your most experienced salesperson, which will virtually guarantee closure.
3. Nurture Captured Leads
Your teams should be able to launch account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns directly through CRM to nurture all the captured leads. You can interact with them at different points of their buying journey through multiple communication channels.
4. Track Applicant Progress
You can create multiple fully customizable pipelines which will help you monitor admission progress and understand which student is at what stage of the enrolment journey. This data will also help you find at which stage most students are dropping out so that you can make the required changes.
5. Streamline Student Engagement
A CRM will help you track and manage every single student interaction. You can start the interaction as soon as a student shares their inquiry and communicate with them via their application of choice. You can also create multiple templates to standardize your messages and also personalize them to improve interactions. It allows you to send course updates, payment reminders, upcoming events, and more to the students. The CRM allows you to track student communication straight from the inquiry stage to their final enrolment.
6. Improve Productivity
A CRM allows you to track and improve counselor productivity by prioritizing important work by assigning tasks, capturing notes, and sending regular reminders for calls, meetings, and student follow-ups. It also does this by helping you create automation workflows that minimize redundant manual tasks. It can automatically send welcome emails/messages to students. You can also use it to send reminders of upcoming courses, assign inquiries, and send payment reminders and invoices.
7. Integrate 3rd Party Applications
A CRM for higher education should be able to streamline your enrolment process by integrating 3rd party tools and applications already being used by the students. You can connect emails, SMS, WhatsApp, calling apps, and more to communicate with students on their preferred channels of communication. It also help you send bulk emails directly through the CRM with integrated email marketing tools such as MailChimp. You can also integrate multiple existing platforms with your CRM with the help of integration platforms. You should also be able to create multiple webhooks to sync your CRM data automatically with trusted applications.
8. Provide a Real-time Business View
You should be able to generate multiple fully customizable and comprehensive business reports that give you a real-time view of your business operations. It should be able to record all student communication such as calls, SMS, emails, meetings, tasks, notes, and more to always keep you in the loop. You must be able to track counselor performance, number of enrolments, and expected revenue. It should also be able to track course performance and tell you which courses need improvement. It should further update you on which channel has captured the highest number of students.
9. Free Implementation, Training, and Support
While most CRMs offer implementation, training, and support, they outsource it to external agencies. And these agencies or the vendors themselves charge exorbitantly for these services. The top CRM for higher education should include these services in their upfront costs and not hide them to trap their customers.
10. Facilitates Collaboration
Your counselors or sales teams should be able to collaborate with each other directly on the CRM platform. They should be able to communicate with each other and share leads/deals manually if required. Your team should be able to view the history of every prospective student with notes and comments. They should be able to delegate and share tasks, and set up online and offline meetings with the students.
11. Manage Field Sales Teams
Field sales are important for student enrollment as councilors must visit colleges, institutions, and expos. A CRM should be able to track and manage your councilors on the go by tracking their location, duration, and status of each meeting. The councilors, in-turn, should be able to geo check-in and check-out of meetings.
12. Anywhere Anytime Access
A CRM should be accessible from anywhere and anytime by all of your team members. Thus, it should include desktop, browser, and mobile (android & iOS) apps. The data should also be updated on the cloud so that it gets updated on all devices at once.
13. Ensure Data Security
Data leakage is a major concern for higher education institutes, and a CRM should be able to guarantee data security. It should allow you to create/edit/delete users, grant and revoke permissions, and ensure student privacy. It should also be able to eliminate duplicate tasks. As well as create smart lists to give you access to the right information at the right time.
14. Easy to Use
Last but not the least, a CRM should be easy to use. This gives your teams easy access and they start seeing value from the get-go. It should be fast enough so that they don’t have to wait endlessly to see actions reflected on the screen. It should be intuitive enough so that the teams can quickly familiarize themselves with it.
Take a 15-day free trial of the Kylas CRM here to know about our entire feature suite. You can use this feature list to start your Higher Education CRM evaluation journey.
How to find the best CRM for your needs?
Every business has different needs and thus different processes that cater to their needs. And even in the same industry, a growing business’s needs will differ from that of an enterprise.
So, rather than looking for the best CRM software for higher education, you must seek the best CRM for your business. And here is how you can do just that:
- List your processes and pain points: To find the right-fit CRM for your business, you must have in-depth understanding of your processes. How do you manage admissions, student and alumni engagement, communication, etc.? This will highlight your pain areas and tell you which systems are not working efficiently and need external help. Bifurcate these processes into ‘must-have’ and ‘good-to-have’ features. Most CRMs don’t offer unlimited users and features at a fixed cost.
- Create your goals: Once you find your pain points, you can then create goals on what you want your institution to achieve moving forward and how a CRM fits in these goals. Add tentative timelines to each of these goals and communicate these goals and timelines to the CRM vendor as deliverables.
- Finalize a budget: Calculate how much you’d be willing to spend on a CRM for higher education, and then look for CRM systems that match this budget. Here, the feature bifurcation you made earlier will help you reduce costs. The number of users, too, will factor in here. Click here to see the breakdown of CRM implementation costs.
- Compare CRM features: Look for a CRM that offers the best value for your money. Ideally, the CRM should offer all the features that your institute requires. But you can also use the feature bifurcation to compare CRMs. The CRM you choose should also offer onboarding, training, and support as part of the implementation.
- Ask for customer references: Ask the CRM vendor for references from other institutions that have used their product. Also, look for customer feedback on review sites, community forums, etc.
- Take a comprehensive trial: Once you have narrowed the list down to a few CRM systems, ask them for a free trial. Here you can thoroughly test their features and give the potential users the chance to familiarize themselves with the system. They can test it and share their feedback before making the final decision.
Now that you know all the features of a top CRM for higher educational institutions and know how to look for one, would you like to try the Kylas CRM? If yes, you can start your free trial for 15 days by clicking on the button below. This trial is absolutely free and you do not need to enter your credit card details.