While many of the nation's colleges are struggling, Southern Polytechnic State University is enjoying one of its best years. The Georgia institution experienced a 28 percent increase in freshmen, a 25 percent jump in transfer students, and a 16 point bump in the academic profile of its freshman class.
"We had a great year -- one for the history books," says Gary Bush, SPSU's Director of Admission and Recruitment. He points to a number of people and processes that made it all possible, but says the key was a cloud-based CRM system that impacted everything from the marketing, to the application process, to the campus tours.
"The CRM was involved in everything we did," Bush said, "making our recruiters more effective, our call center more efficient, our prospect communications more targeted."
The system selected by Bush and his colleagues at SPSU is the Recruitment CRM from TargetX, the first Customer Relationship Management solution built expressly for higher education on the development platform of Salesforce.com, the worldwide leader in CRM and a pioneer in cloud computing.
TargetX’s system helps colleges manage, integrate and automate the process of student recruitment from the first point of contact through enrollment. Among its strengths is built-in electronic communication, including the leading email broadcasting tool in higher education marketing. It is also fully integrated with a powerful event manager and online application.
"This was the first year we were able to use all the tools provided by the TargetX CRM," explained Bush. "So we were able to do things like overcome inefficiencies with our campus tour program."
In the past, said Bush, the admissions office had trouble getting students to confirm their appointments for a campus tour, which SPSU tries to restrict to two or three families in order to keep the tours more personal. "So we constantly played phone tag with the students," he said. "And very often they would have to cancel the visit but not have an efficient way to let us know and to reschedule.
"Now, students can use the CRM's online event manager to register themselves. They can instantly see all available dates and easily reschedule if they need to. We can track who is signed up, send a confirmation message and reminder emails. In addition, our call center becomes part of the process -- calling to remind the student the night before, following up if the student didn't make the appointment, saying 'We missed you on the campus tour; can we reschedule?'"
In general, the CRM has made calling students much more effective and efficient, said Bush. "It's easier to make the right phone calls at the right time. Staff members are able to record whether they reached the student or not, what was discussed, and what the next step should be. This way students aren't getting called twice for the same thing. We don't want to pester them."
As one of the smaller state schools in Georgia, the personalized approach is critical to SPSU. So the mobile nature of a CRM "in the cloud" has been especially valuable for Bush and his staff of recruiters. "I can't tell you what a difference it makes when we're on the road, meeting with prospective students, and we take out an iPad and pull up an applicant's record and tell him that we have all his documents except one, or tell a prospect that her SAT scores look great, or tell a student who may be considering SPSU the names of others from his high school who have already applied. That kind of access to information anytime from anywhere is a powerful recruiting tool."
Student recruitment, says Bush, is actually a simple process: "It's about finding the right-fit student and connecting with them. The TargetX CRM makes that possible by streamlining and allowing us to get back to the basics -- connecting with students."
Recruiters can run their own reports, generate letters and labels, produce lists of prospects for academic department heads, all in a matter of minutes and with a couple clicks. "The CRM has made so much of what we do easier and quicker," said Bush. "This has allowed us to spend our time recruiting, not pushing paper."
About Southern Polytechnic State University
Southern Polytechnic State University is a public, coeducational, state university in the historic city of Marietta, Georgia, approximately 20 miles northwest of downtown Atlanta. SPSU specializes in a career-based education in the sciences and technologies, and is one of the highest ranked public institutions in the state. Located on 203 wooded acres, SPSU is divided into five academic schools: Architecture and Construction Management, Computing and Software Engineering, Engineering Technology and Management, Arts and Sciences, and Engineering. The university is home to approximately 6,200 students from 36 states and 64 countries.
For more information, visit www.spsu.edu
TargetX is a higher education CRM company that provides an enterprise-wide solution to help colleges build relationships with their most important constituencies, including prospective students, current students, alumni and potential donors. The company's Enterprise CRM is built on the powerful development platform of Salesforce.com -- the worldwide leader in Customer Relationship Management and a pioneer in cloud computing. With its 15-year reputation for innovative technology and industry expertise, TargetX has become one of the most trusted CRM providers in higher education.
To learn more, visit www.targetx.com