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  • signaltonoise 1:19 pm on September 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CRM, ,   

    Student Experience Resolutions 

    Some good food for thought posted today by Forrester Analyst, Bruce Temkin on his blog.  He offers up his annual top-ten list of resolutions that companies should consider this New Year.  Surprisingly, there’s no mention of losing weight, quitting smoking or better managing their budgets (though that would be a good one).

    Here are his Customer Experience Resolutions for 2010:

    1. We shall put in place a robust voice of the customer program
    2. We shall stop playing with social media and put it to good use
    3. We shall treat customer service as a loyalty-driver, not a cost center
    4. We shall go beyond just fixing problems and inspire brand promoters
    5. We shall establish clarity in our brand, internally and externally
    6. We shall identify a senior executive to lead the transformation effort
    7. We shall help new customers get value from us faster and easier
    8. We shall improve the usability of all self-service interactions
    9. We shall communicate more clearly with customers across all channels
    10. We shall make our culture more customer-centric

    How are these points relevant to higher education?  Here are a few thoughts on how Bruce’s suggestions could be applied at your college or university (feel free to add your own):

    1. We shall put in place a robust voice of the customer program – 

    Many institutions still wrestle with the notion that students are in fact customers that are purchasing a service from the college or university. As a result, institutions sometimes forget to gather feedback from constituents about their experience.  How can you be expected to improve your service if you don’t bother asking those you serve? It’s time to start hearing the voice of YOUR customer – students.

    2. We shall stop playing with social media and put it to good use

    2009 was the year of Twitter and of course Facebook continued to exert its massive force across the universe.  Despite having a reputation for being laggards with respect to technology, few industries have been as quick as higher education to adopt social media.  A study conducted last year by UMASS-Dartmouth found that 13% of the Fortune 500 and 39% of the Inc. 500 currently have a public blog, it is interesting to note that college admissions departments continue to lead the pack with blogs at 41% of US colleges and universities.  Social media has arrived on campus in a major way.  However, 2010 will be the year where colleges and universities must stop viewing social media as a “rogue” channel and start integrating it with their other marketing channels.

    3. We shall treat customer service as a loyalty-driver, not a cost center –

    What’s the average cost to recruit a new student? About $2,500 (according to NACAC).  How much are they worth to your institution over 4-years? In many cases well over 6 figures.  Ironically though, particularly for public institutions, having students stick around too long could result in diminishing returns and extra costs to both parents and the institution. You should start thinking about retention and student success before you even enroll a new student.  The more you know up front, the better prepared you’ll be to ensure they’re the right fit for your institution and that you’re prepared to make them successful.

    4. We shall go beyond just fixing problems and inspire brand promoters –

    Don’t strive to just meet expectations…strive for greatness.

    5. We shall establish clarity in our brand, internally and externally –

    Are you afraid you won’t be able to differentiate your institution from the competition?  It’s probably because it’s true.  Differentiation is hard. And as some think, it may not even be what you should be shooting for as “uniqueness is overrated.”  However, ensuring consistency of your brand can go a long way towards helping your constituents make positive associations with your institution which may be enough of a differentiator (especially if your competition has lousy branding).

    6. We shall identify a senior executive to lead the transformation effort – 

    We often hear about how difficult it is for those at the lower levels of higher education administration to affect change at their institutions.  To that I say, “hogwash.” That’s right, hogwash…not a word I use lightly. You’re in the position that you are in because someone, at some point, trusted you.  Leverage that trust to help implement change. Take your ideas to senior executives.  You never know which ones may stick.  The reality is that you sometimes need to know people in high places to get things done. Get heard by finding an executive champion for your ideas.

    7. We shall help new customers get value from us faster and easier – 

    As I alluded to on #3, shaping your enrollment properly, and providing excellent service and first-year learning experiences goes a long way toward delivering a life-long fan of your institution.  It’s never too early to start thinking about how you’re going to prove a ROI to your students. 

    8. We shall improve the usability of all self-service interactions –

    It’s important to help customers help themselves, but make sure you’re consistent with your offerings.  Provide access to the information they need without re-inventing the wheel and forcing them to sign up for a different site for every stage of the student lifecycle. 

    9. We shall communicate more clearly with customers across all channels –

    Marshall McLuhan is known for saying, “The medium is the messsage,” meaning that a medium influences how a message is perceived.  However, try not to let the medium control your message too much.  Whether it’s social media, email, traditional or paid search advertising, your customers want a continuity of experience across all channels.  

    10. We shall make our culture more customer-centric – I think this one speaks for itself.  Try to make your culture more student-centric.  Otherwise, why bother having students to begin with?

  • signaltonoise 1:17 pm on September 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CRM, SaaS   

    Beware of SaaS in sheep’s clothing 

    Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is hot. And why not? In a downturn economy, true SaaS and Cloud Computing solutions offer low-risk, low-cost access to powerful software solutions, such as CRM. Earlier in the year, we wrote about some of the advantages of SaaS here. We noted how true SaaS architecture enables economies of scale that are much more difficult to achieve with on-premise or hosted solutions, plus configuration and implementation is considerably easier in a true SaaS environment.

    Now, why do I keep saying “true” SaaS? Because with all the excitement over cloud computing and software-as-a-service in recent years there are a number of software providers that are looking to join the party and jump on the SaaS bandwagon. We don’t blame them, it’s pretty awesome. However, this enthusiasm on the part of some vendors can be misleading to many that are interested in evaluating the benefits of working with a true SaaS vendor.

    As such, we wanted to help clear some of the confusion and found an article published recently in Baseline Magazine, a practical guide to costing and managing the deployment of leading-edge information technology, that helps provide an understanding of the architectural differences between hosted software and true software as a service (SaaS) applications.

    Here are the differences as explained by Baseline:

    Hosted software is just that: It’s substantially the same as an application you might run on your own infrastructure, but it’s instanced on a server in a third-party data center. Most first-generation offerings from application service providers followed this model, and many solutions still do. The instance-hosted architecture is a stage many vendors arrive at as they try to adapt complex standalone applications to the Internet—and to new payment models.

    Instance-hosted applications can, if managed properly, exploit certain economies of scale to function better in an on-demand framework (server virtualization, for example). However, the math tends to break down as scales increase, products evolve, and individual customer configurations become more complex and unique.

    Changes and upgrades must be patched on numerous servers running in parallel. Fault-resilient infrastructure options, like clustering, are harder and less advantageous to apply. Often, the tools used to maintain, configure and manage such applications are only slightly more powerful than those used to drive a single user version, thus offering little self-configuration ability to the customer.

    True SaaS applications, in contrast, are multitenant at core, serving many customers on a single software instance and database infrastructure. Applications designed this way are far easier to scale on more robust platforms, far easier to manage by the host, and easier to make self-configurable by customers. All other things being equal, this combination should make SaaS applications more affordable and, ultimately, higher margin.

    Other experts, such as CRM analyst Denis Pombriant of Beagle Research, offers similar definitions on the differences between hosted and SaaS solutions. The Baseline article goes on to warn:

    While CIOs typically understand the issues, Bloom warns that some vendors are obscuring the facts in the hope of closing a deal.

    “When soliciting competing quotes for our prospective SaaS-based Association Management System implementation, several vendors that described themselves as SaaS providers turned out to be selling an old-school hosted app,” says Risk and Insurance Management Society CIO Andy Steggles. “A few were happy to finesse the truth until I asked them pointed questions.”

    The lesson here? Buyer beware.

    We hope you find this information useful as you evaluate the pros and cons of working with SaaS, hosted and on-premise software solutions.

    • jodie_microsoft_smb 3:47 pm on September 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      This article points out some great information about hosted/SaaS solutions – something to mention about Microsoft’s Cloud offerings is that the end user has the ability to easily switch to their own on-site servers down the road if their needs change. Check out Microsoft’s options:
      • Microsoft Online Services: http://smb.ms/baPQlA
      • Microsoft Dynamics SaaS: http://smb.ms/dmsUQz
      • Microsoft Virtualization: http://smb.ms/alF3LV

      Jodi E.
      Microsoft SMB Outreach Team

  • signaltonoise 4:39 pm on September 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CRM   

    Have you ever been experienced? 

    It seems so obvious it’s almost not worth writing, but just in case you were thinking customer service has no impact on your institution’s bottom line…a recent Forrester Research report finds that the link between customer loyalty and customer experience is closer than ever before.  What does this mean?  It means that all things being equal (similar product, similar price, etc.) consumers will opt for the brand that delivers the best customer experience.

    How is your school being experienced?  And what impact will your online presence have on customer experience? Below is a presentation by David Armano, VP of Experience Design at Critical Mass and the author of Logic + Emotion, that explores how organizations can improve their online customer experience:

  • signaltonoise 4:33 pm on September 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CRM   

    How CRM Can Help You Do More with Less 

    One of the things we like to stress here at Intelliworks is the ability for a well-executed CRM initiative to not only provide operational insight into your recruitment and marketing efforts, but also help create efficiencies in how colleges and universities manage their admissions and enrollment operations.  In particular, how can CRM help you do more with less resources (something that’s become all too common in today’s higher education environment)?

    Recently, we spoke with a reporter at DM News who set out to explore how CRM can offer colleges an edge.

    Here’s an excerpt from the article:

    According to the US Census Bureau, col­lege enrollment in America is up 17% since 2000. More people apply to colleges each year, and the influx of interested students makes college admissions officers’ jobs much harder than just a few years ago. On top of try­ing to attract the people who will actually enroll, attend and pay, college recruiters now try to keep track of inquiries coming in from multiple chan­nels and from around the world.

    Even a small liberal arts school nestled away in central New Hampshire can’t escape the growing technological demands of modern campus recruit­ment. Managing inbound information requests from online, print, e-mail and phone sources, as well as outbound e-mail marketing and event planning, is par for the course at New England College, a school of 1,060 undergraduates located 20 miles from Concord, NH.

    When its old sys­tem couldn’t keep up with its modern marketing plans and its ever-growing number of interested prospects New England College (NEC) turned in 2007 to Intelliworks, a CRM platform provider, to help build the perfect incoming class of 375 freshmen and transfer students.

    Here’s a link to the full story.

  • signaltonoise 4:30 pm on September 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CRM, , obama, SMS,   

    The Audacity of Marketing 

    Regardless of your political affiliation, I think we can all agree that the rise of Barack Obama has been a remarkable case study in the use of e-marketing. Never before has a political candidate used virtually every new media tool at his/her disposal to generate so much buzz and communicate effectively with constituents.

    Obama’s campaign not only has a presence on sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, they’ve made these sites key components in how they market to and manage relationships with constituents. Additionally, they use each channel differently to communicate with different segments of their constituency. Remember the late evening SMS message alerting the most die-hard fans of Obama’s VP pick?

    Sites that didn’t even exist during the last presidential election are now playing an integral role in the communications plans of both candidates. I only mention Obama because of the effectiveness of his outreach efforts (in fact: he was named Ad Age’s Marketer of the Year this week).

    Surely, there are lessons to be learned on how quickly both presidential candidates, and other politicians, have been able to adapt and incorporate new media into their strategies. However, as Future Now’s Jeff Sexton points out, there are other areas where marketers could benefit from paying closer attention to how politicians sell their ideas. And, in my opinion, it’s just as important as keeping an eye on what tools they’re using to get the message out.

    According to Sexton, the reasons why the best political strategists often create better messaging strategies than their marketing counterparts are not skill or deep theory (or new tools) but:

    1. Measurement – they invest time and money to see the effects of their efforts so they can know what is and isn’t working.
    2. Testing – they tweak and fine-tune copy and messaging during a campaign
    3. Agility – coming up with a great new strategy is worthless if you can’t implement it in time to win the election.

    Not too complicated, but something to consider as you add new tools to your marketing mix. Even in a world flooded with new media options, the basics still apply.

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