Using CRM to its Fullest Extent: Experience Growth and Reduce Costs


Recently, Demand Engine (an enrollment consulting, marketing software, and digital marketing services company) completed research on how colleges and universities are using customer relationship management (CRM systems). This research found that 67% of higher education institutions use CRM systems to increase enrollment, 65% use it to communicate electronically with potential students, 46% use CRM to measure marketing results, and 27% implemented CRM in order to reduce marketing and recruitment costs. However, CRM systems have much more functionality than just sending targeted email messages!

In fact, CRM systems can be used to gain deeper insight into corporate and alumni relations, admissions and enrollment, facilities and asset management, recruiting and staffing, student and teacher performance, and more.  This insight can result in adjustment of business processes to help lower costs and improve productivity for better measurement and outcomes.

So why have educational institutions remained hesitant to invest in a customer relationship management system?

Several barriers to implementing CRM systems were also uncovered during this study including: staff not being familiar with CRM, poor planning, and the lack of support from administrators to use CRM systems. All of these challenges can easily be overcome once you are aware of the benefits of CRM, for both higher education and K-12 education.

1. Ease of Use

The George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University/St. Louis was in need of one source of information and tools to analyze data and implement targeted campaigns to grow alumni, donor, volunteer, public and private organizations, and current student relationships. Prior to implementing Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM system, the School used 16 different systems to store constituent data. Significant time and effort was spent by staff to find information across different departments in order to cull through 50,000 people and 7,000 organizations. It could take days to find and collate information on an individual or company for an upcoming dean’s meeting.

Aspect was able to help the Brown School solve its issue by implementing Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM system. The result is one source of information that the entire School uses to not only send targeted emails, but also distribute current news on faculty research, upcoming continuing education classes, etc. resulting in the building of longer term relationships. Since 100% of school staff was already using Microsoft Outlook, the addition of Dynamics CRM was essentially seamless.

2. Return on Investment

The return on investment from implementing Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM system has been significant. Within the first few months of operation, bulk mail returns dropped to under 3% resulting in reduced mailing costs as well as more accurate print runs. The system is very easy-to-use. And, most importantly, constituents are receiving a higher quality experience from the School.

“With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we gained the flexibility and ease-of-use that we needed to ensure adoption and establish a central source of constituent information.” –Ellen Rostand, Assistant Dean for Communications, Brown School

Read more about the CRM solution at George Warren Brown School of Social Work