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CRM Is Always Right

How to learn from the market while you treat your customers right

Craig StanfordCraig Stanford is director of higher education for Talisma, which focuses on customer relationship management (CRM) and customer interaction management (CIM) tools. He guides product development and prioritizes requirements for each of the company’s integrated solutions for the higher education market: Strategic Enrollment Management, Student Services, and Advancement. A CRM system expert, Stanford is passionate about building lasting relationships with Talisma’s customer base. He sees CRM as the best opportunity that institutions have to grow with and adjust to market demands, while following the time-honored business practice of “treating the customer right.” Here, he shares his Top 10 ways to succeed with CRM—both by building great constituent relationships and by fine-tuning processes.

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Provide staff with a global view of contacts and communications.

  • Communication histories locked up in silos are a thing of the past.
  • Staff must be able to see a constituent’s entire history on a single screen.
  • Limit the number of data fields to those needed across departments.

Create role-based workspaces across the institution, tailored to each user.

  • Minimize “clicks” and maximize efficiency with uniquely
  • Lower-priority data (for a given user) should be searchable secondary views, not shown on the main screen.

Segment the constituent base in order to provide focused services.

  • Don’t let valuable relationships slip through the cracks!
  • Use automated filtering to locate high-value, likely-to-take-action candidates.
  • Employ predictive models to help determine filtering choices.

Personalize every interaction, from hard-copy mailings to phone conversations and e-mails.

  • One size d'es not fit all, and customers know that.
  • Personalization is more than including a name; use relevant, targeted content.
  • Don’t overlook the power of chat and IM for personalized exchanges.

Ensure consistency and build credibility with single-voice messaging.

  • Use a scripted knowledgebase, shared across the university, with pre-built responses to typical questions.
  • Be aware of parent-child and other constituent relationships that may share and compare information.

Put out the welcome mat with constituent self-service.

  • An overwhelming volume of inquiries can bog down departments fast.
  • Make sure a personalized web portal is there to assist prospects 24/7.
  • Provide an option to escalate quickly from self-service to assisted service.

Automate the assignment and routing of inquiries to expedite follow-up.

  • Build business rules to ensure staff ownership and reduce unanswered inquiries.
  • When possible, collect information via web forms.
  • A little planning will save staff time and the cost of sending duplicate materials.

Automate process/workflow to move constituents to the next stage.

  • Don’t let constituents get stalled!
  • Automation will optimize yield, keep constituents from feeling abandoned, and keep staff on track.

Build in accountability. Know who handled what when, and the result.

  • Create a non-editable audit trail, with a date-and-time stamp.
  • Make frequent spot checks and address problems quickly.

Leverage analytics that help you get the most out of your CRM system and continuously improve business practices.

  • Maintain in-depth reports that allow adjustments to data capture as needed.
  • Automate the scheduling and delivery of reporting to maintain concentration on key goals.
  • Always be open to learning from mistakes and reviewing processes.
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