Tuesday, October 05, 2010

CRM and Targeted Customer Service

Technology is an important part of retention that can provide some significant customer service gains. I was just talking with Shelby Wallace, Norwich University’s Director of the Canter for Student Success who told me that CRM is a powerful tool the University uses to predict when a student might drop out and intervene to save him or her.

A little background here. Norwich University decided that it had to increase retention at the school.  It did so by having some consultant groups in to test various aspects of the university’s performance. We were asked to do the customer service for retention part.

Since the work, the University has had some amazing results including the largest entering class in the history of the school but more important is the 35 additional students retained. That means that population is also up since admissions was not just refilling emptied slots. We are of course pleased to have helped out and it was reported that customer service has definitely improved on campus. But that was not the whole factor to the solution.

The University really focused on retention and crated a whole new structure with Shelby heading it to increase retention at the University. One tool they used was the technology of CRM and in particular a package put out by Hobson’s called Retain.  This package does all the CRM things any school could want some of which were discussed ion an earlier article posted.

It should be noted that Norwich has the proud distinction of being the first private college to offer officers training at a college. It was the creator of what would also become ROTC. So it has been an innovator since its beginning.

One of the exciting things it does is allows schools to develop predictive models that can help them pinpoint students who the model indicates may be candidates to drop out. CRM has the school collect a lot of data and imports data into it through the school’s existing MIS system such as Banner or Datatel. It does not replace the MIS system because it does other things that Datatel, Banner or Jenzebar does not do.

What the Retain CRM does is cut through the data to identify certain characteristics that Norwich students who have dropped out exemplify. It can help pinpoint the times that students drop out and the attributes of the students who dropped out at the identified times. For example, when we did our study of customer service and retention we found out that a number of students dropped out after first semester sophomore year.  They seemed disillusioned by some of the things that had been occurring to them as members of the Corps.

With CRM, the University could not only pinpoint when the students were dropping but the characteristics of students who did and might drop. They then could intercede with the identified students and work to keep them in schools. They could also identify the characteristics of students who did and could drop out. These were fed back into the Retain CRM package and the University was able to identify those students who fit the characteristic and use the system as an early warning device.
They were able to build email lists of students who fit all sorts of specific criteria such as major, minor, grades, courses taken, from a particular state etc. The lists were then generated and they would automatically send out emails with information that applied to the students. As a result, the University could send out emails to a specific set of students who could actually be interested in the subject matter. No more spam.

CRM is a great retention tool that should be used by many more schools to increase retention as it has helped at schools such as Norwich.

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