Schools, universities and other educational institutions have one challenge in common. They need to constantly communicate with their students and often the parents as well.
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Software for Communicating with Students and Parents
Obviously, the students and their parents are different generations; and guess what, that means they have different communication styles, prefer different communication channels and are on different timeframes. They also have different information needs.
What they have in common is:
- They do have a smartphone and do not necessarily want to see yet another app on their phones’ home screens, or anywhere at all on their phones.
- They want and need timely information and an easy and simple way to supply information or, in the case of the students, work results.
- It is a valid assumption that the members of both stakeholder groups also have and use services like text and one or more messengers.
- Naturally, they all have email addresses.
- An increasing number of people also use unified communications software like MS Teams or Slack
And, let us not forget about the personnel on the other side, the teachers, assistants, or members of the school boards.
Why Higher Education Needs Better Communication Software
Higher education uses outbound communication for:
- Attracting new students
- Ongoing information on offers and events to parents and students alike
- Requests for information
- Work assignments to students
- Notifications about upcoming deadlines for pending work
- And many more.
Higher education uses inbound communication for:
- Requests for information
- Submission of information and work results, again amongst many other use cases.
And then, there is collaboration; virtual “classroom” education, townhall meetings, briefings, etc.
Given all this, how can an educational institution effectively and efficiently communicate with its two main external stakeholder groups, the students and their parents around admissions?
The Solution: CRM + Communications Platform for Phone and SMS
Without spilling the beans, the solution lies in using a CRM in combination with a communications platform that can combine CTI (phone), SMS, and other channels.
There are a number of CRM systems that address education needs, but with Salesforce being the best known, let me use their education cloud as an example to start with.
From here most, if not all, communication needs with the stakeholders can get organized and maintained. This provides staff with a single consolidated view on communications and interactions that happened with parents and students.
Salesforce for Higher Education CRM
The Salesforce Education Cloud is focused on the “Student Journey.” Salesforce offers an out of the box solution for Higher Ed institutions.
The Education Data Architecture (EDA) is a data architecture designed specifically for the higher ed community. EDA includes a set of best practices and makes it even easier for institutions of any size to become a Connected Campus. The goal is to enable richer and dynamic, 1-to-1 engagement across the student journey.
The student journey starts with admissions and that’s where Salesforce Admissions Connect starts as well. The CRM software helps admissions meaningfully engage applicants and streamline admissions management — all on the trusted Salesforce platform. The goal is to spend less time on manual processes, and more time building relationships.
This is where school-parent-student communication comes in. Although Salesforce owns with Slack one of the prime unified communication tools. But as said, not everyone has Slack on the smartphone, so the ability to communicate by text and voice via phone that is directly integrated with and embedded into Salesforce is important.
Slack provides the chat conversation further along in the relationship. At the rarely recruiting stages, ecosystem partners like Fastcall effectively enable the admissions teams to spend less time on manual processes like calling and sending SMS, and more time building relationships.
Fastcall for Higher Education Communications
Fastcall is a communications solution that is natively built on and exclusively available for Salesforce. Fastcall allows to actively call or text stakeholders from within Salesforce as well as enabling video conferencing and screen sharing.
Incoming calls can be routed to the right recipients and callers are immediately identified. Inbound as well as outbound calls are captured by the built-in interaction logging. Fastcall helps the admissions team save time and be more efficient.
Use Salesforce and Fastcall Together
The combination of Salesforce and Fastcall allows the educational institution to reach out to registered prospects for follow-up purposes and “close the deal” by taking advantage of Salesforce’s segmentation, marketing and sales functionality and Fastcall’s communication abilities. Parents of students can be supplied with current information, reminders and status updates as these become available while students can be informed about assignments and reminded about approaching deadlines.
Classes, parent groups, meetings, events and so on could still be implemented using Salesforce owned functionality like Slack, or alternatively other tools like MS Teams or even Zoom.
Still, this way it is possible to accommodate many of the communications needs and wants of all three involved parties, the educational institution, the students and their parents, without forcing anyone to install an additional app on their smartphones.