Customer relationship management

1. Introduction

"Customer relationship management (CRM) is a combination of people, processes and technology that seeks to understand a company's customers" (Chen, 2003)

Colleges are developing new strategies of teaching such as distance learning, and utilizing new technologies to improve the performance of teaching. This is why the relevance of considering the student as a Customer and the necessity to attract, to retain and to provide an education service that fulfills the expectations of each student. (Seeman, 2006)

In the following research a Student lifecycle is presented used Aris Software showing the process from the research of a course until the graduation day. In the process it is indicated what type of information is gathered by the student and the university staff, and also the data bases that interact in the process.

Finally, the report mentions the application of new technologies during the process and the recommendation of a suitable CRM package in Higher Education.

2. Process Modelling .

The ARIS Software was used to illustrate the steps made by the student in the university during the higher education process. The student lifecycle process is included in the Figure no. 1. The main steps involved in the process are Research, Application Process, Registration Process, Enrolment and Fees Payments, Induction - Teaching, and Graduation.

3. New technologies in the Process

There are some technologies, current and future, that can be applied in different process model mentioned above.

3.1. Mobiles

These devices had an important impact in lifestyles not only for the possibility of making phone calls, capture picture, record audio or video, but also because of the geolocation, web browsing and email functionality. (Levine, 2009).

In the process, this technology can be applied specifically during the enrolment process. At this point, the student can receive in its own mobile the information regarding to the schedule, maps of the university, course registration, grades, and can update personal details and it will be in real time. This technology may leads to replace the student ID in the future using customized applications for each university and the mobile with the suitable applications (Pea, 2009).

3.2. Cloud computing

The term cloud computing has a significant impact in the way the data is stored among many machines, and how we utilize software in order to be accessible no matter the location or the owner. (Levine, 2009). Because the information is stored in the network, Host providers started to assist companies with extra server space to manage customer relationships (King, 2008).

The application of this term can be used during the Enrolment process and also during the Induction and Teaching. The Cloud computing should smooth the progress of research, resource allocation, scheduling, monitoring, and management tasks that arise while interact with huge amount of data. (Gupta, 2008). All the information needed during the teaching process such as word processing, spreadsheets presentations, media can be done in a web browser, while the software and files are stored in the cloud. (Levine, 2009).

3.3. Smart objects

The common technologies that support smart objects are "Radio Frequency identification (RFID) tags, quick response (QR) codes, and smartcards" (Levine, 2009). An example of the application can be during the Induction and Teaching process, when the tutor save all the information regarding to the course, assignment, Web pages, etc in a QR Code, and the student should take a picture with a mobile device to decode it and gets instant record of what the tutor wants them to do. (BLOG, 2004)

3.4. Serv ice Oriented Architecture ( SOA )

One definition for SOA can be first as a service oriented aspect that interact with a simple model that involves a service consumer and a service provider, and also an architecture that provides flexibility, interoperability, quality attributes that enables the organizations to encourage the utilization of services. (Campbell, 2007)

Fuchs (2008) mentions some applications of SOA in Higher education that can be applied in the model in Figure No. 1 such as:

Student Application Control.- In the application process, the SOA assist the universities to manage the application documents of the students in order to avoid missing applications documents because of the increasing demand of prospects. This also enables the university to provide an efficient service without redundant information or duplicate data that represents costs and non value added processes.

Integration.- The SOA allows the process to be easily integrated and adaptable to new technologies and new customer requirements. In Higher Education, this can be adaptable during the Application and Enrolment process, because there are students not only locally but also international students with different cultures and languages and the information must be stored correctly to be adaptable for other process.

3.5. St udent Information System (SIS)

The SIS is a software that tracks and manage student data, such as contact information, personal details, course registration, grades, schedules, etc. (Hobsons, 2009). This technology can be applied in many steps of the Student lifecycle process, for instance during the Student registration process and Enrolment process because of the relevance of both steps. The University gathers all the information of each student and it has to be stored in the Data Base in an efficient and effective way to allocate each one in their specific course and to send the schedules properly.

This technology can be also applied during the Evaluation and reporting Process, because it allows the university to manage the student reports and grades and to present the personalized information in the Blackboard data base for student revision.

3.6. E nterprise Content Management (ECM)

This technology involves strategies, methods and tools utilized to capture, store, manage, and deliver information and documents in the organizational process. (Duhon, 2005). The ECM plays an important role in the business re-engineering because it can be applied in all the process of the student lifecycle process of the document flow from the admission process until the graduation and also with the management of the documents. Other process that can be improved with the ECM technology is the email management for better communication, publication of documents in a website or portals, and also the implementation of security procedures to restrict access of the documents in the University Data Base depending on the student and the course.

4. CRM package Report

The importance in CRM systems in Higher Education is facing an increase demand in Universities. The main objective of the universities is to attract students and also to offer a suitable and high value to the final customer, the student. (Hobsons, 2009).

Colleges are requesting the assistance to different providers on "how to incorporate CRM technology into multichannel recruitment, student retention, and alumni management" (Musico, 2008). This is why; universities need to optimize their processes from the initial contact with the prospect student, including the admission process, enrolment and induction process, and the graduation. The technology and the new devices mentioned above will facilitate the business process re-engineering and also the implementation of a CRM package.

By implementing a CRM solution, the University will gain some benefits with the students, such as:

  • Customer Dada Sharing Throughout the organization.- This involves superior levels of customer service, information about student performance, complete view of the process. (Chen 2003).

  • Innovate Technology.- Self service capability and Internet applications, personalized communications, generation of metrics. (Chen 2003).

Zornada (2005) mentions some characteristics that need to consider such as:

  • Definition of educational process, financial, accounting function and human resource management.

  • Demand of technology related to the solution.

  • "Independence, upgradeability, security, stability and connectiveness."

  • Definition of the central data base or hosting service.

  • Support

5. CRM Package Recommendation - SAP CRM for Higher Education and Research

The package recommended who interacts in a suitable way with the new technologies and devices cited before is the SAP CRM for Higher Education & Research.

There are some variables that influence the information managed by the university such as the total of student registered, courses, staff, financial data, teaching resources; hence the importance of adaptability and suitability if this CRM package in different environments and the possibility of maintaining an effective relationship with the students, who are the final customers.

Finally, this CRM Package has been implemented not only at Universities in United States, but also at Universities in United Kingdom that managed the information of 18,000 students in 2007, and implemented the SAP CRM application to optimize their process.

The key Benefits were (SAP, 2007)

  • 25% increase in firm acceptances(postgraduate) year on year
  • Faster decision making (by a factor of 7)
  • Streamlined administrative processes - elimination of manual tasks such as copying, logging, collating, and searching for files
  • Overwhelmingly positive feedback from student applicants
  • Ability to plan university budgets with more certainty, thanks to accurate management reports.

6. Conclusions

This document contains the illustration of the steps in a Student lifecycle process, the technologies that can be used in order to improve the education service with the students and a recommendation of a suitable CRM package. Universities are registering an increase in the number of applications every year, and viewing students as customers will gives a competitive competition in the Higher education industry. The core business of every college is to attract new students, provides the courses and services that fulfil their expectations with the assistance of the new technologies from the application process until the graduation. (Seeman, 2006).

CRM Packages provides different solutions to improve business process and also to manage information in an effective and efficient way the relationship with the final customer. Universities must consider the implementation of the CRM package not only regarding the software, but also as a opportunity to re-design the internal process and to improve the service with emerging technologies available for the Higher Education Industry

7. References

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Musico, C. (2008). Market Focus: Education -- Making CRM Mandatory for University Administration. [online]. Last accessed 9 December 2009 at: http://www.destinationcrm.com/Articles/Columns-Departments/Insight/Market-Focus-Education----Making-CRM-Mandatory-for-University-Administration-50142.aspx

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