The disruption caused by the pandemic has forced higher education institutions to think quickly about how services are delivered, how connections are made and maintained, and how the right infrastructure can support more flexible ways of working both now and in the future. Interactions between students and their educational institution have gone through exponential change. As on-campus activities are being replaced by virtual interactions there is a greater need for universities to optimise their digital environments to meet students’ expectations and transform the student experience by creating digital student recruitment, teaching, graduation, and advancement without requiring a presence on campus. As a result, virtual experiences must transition from short-term solution to a long-term strategy.
To discuss this further, we were recently joined by a number of higher education institutions including the University of East London, TEDI-London, Imperial College and Royal Holloway to discuss how Microsoft Dynamics 365 is enabling universities to streamline the student journey, specifically in relation to admissions, student experience and retention.
Critical to this is the implementation of cross-life-cycle CRM solutions. These play a key role in student engagement, throughout the student lifecycle management. So, how can Microsoft Dynamics 365 help?
Managing the student lifecycle includes pro-active marketing, initial dialogue with potential students from an enquiry or open day registration, nurturing applicants through the admissions process to enrolment as well as on-programme support and alumni management. Most institutions have identified that students who enjoy a positive customer experience are more likely to convert and complete, achieving the twin goals of high recruitment and retention. Therefore, emphasis on the student experience has led many universities to focus on carrying out virtual campus tours, one to one chat in messengers, live events on social media and meetings on Microsoft Teams in place of physical interactions. However, with the decision-making process for potential students severely disrupted many universities are still facing lower student numbers.
CRM systems support the business processes involved in Marketing, sales, and customer service and are therefore the ideal system to manage student lifecycle management by enabling outstanding service levels which deliver positive customer experience. However, not all CRM systems can be tailored to cater for the Higher Education sector and are therefore able to support the specific processes involved.
Thankfully, there is a solution. With Dynamics 365, universities are able to gain insight into student behaviour, improve their student services and ultimately build stronger, longer lasting relationships with their students. By providing built in event management tools and 3rd party integration options, Dynamics 365 provides teams with insights across all marketing activities, all in one place. By gaining a 360 view of every student and accessing deeper insights into them, universities are able to carry out targeted, multichannel campaigns in parallel with their virtual tours and open days. Communications made to prospective and existing students is done based upon their previous engagements and where they are in the application process or student lifecycle. This allows for a more personalised experience for every student.
One university doing just this is TEDI-London. As a brand-new institution opening their doors to students for the first time in September 2021, TEDI-London had the freedom to build a highly intuitive, future-proofed system that could scale and adapt as the organisation grows. With this in mind, they planned to build a system that could provide a holistic view of each student throughout the full student lifecycle, encompassing everything from initial inquiries, through to application, admission, enrolment and support through the whole curriculum.
Having determined that off-the-shelf products were over-engineered and potentially a more expensive route, TEDI-London turned to ANS to leverage Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE and Microsoft’s Higher Education Accelerator to build a bespoke solution.
Within 8 weeks of starting the project, TEDI-London were able to get the admission functionality live, giving them ability to run their admissions cycle through the system, while continuing to improve the functionality of other parts of the process.
As a result of deploying D365, TEDI-London is now able to identify and respond to trends in their data so they can make smarter, faster decisions by tapping into big data, advanced analytics and intelligent processes to help them collect and then act on the right data at the right time.