How to Begin Your Higher Ed Institute’s Digital Transformation

October 16, 2019 Kyla Farroll

In today’s increasingly digital world, students approach their higher ed experience with the same expectations they bring to any of their digital interactions. This has caused higher ed institutions to evaluate – and in many cases, transform – how they interact with students.  

Perhaps you’re in the evaluation stage and aren’t sure where to start your transformation. This graphic from Eduventures (published in May 2019) shows platforms commonly used to manage the student lifecycle at higher education institutions. Through all the information to unpack here, Salesforce stands out as making frequent appearances from Admissions through Advancement.  

From its native functionality to education-specific enhancements like the Education Data Architecture, it’s easy to see how Salesforce Education Cloud effectively supports so many aspects of the student journey.  

As I highlight a couple of areas, please keep in mind: 

One size does not fit all: Solutions need to be built — and be scalable — to each individual institution’s needs. Depending on your size and population, existing systems, and a whole host of other considerations, there are many options to choose from. 

Customization vs. out-of-the-box: When choosing and building out a platform, carefully weigh your needs and resources. Consider budgets, timelines, staffing, and your short-term and long-term goals.  

Admissions & Enrollment Management: Recruitment Management Solutions 

At its core, the very nature of Salesforce is . . . obviously . . . to support sales. Although it has evolved over time to accommodate so much more, it has ample functionality with Leads and Opportunities to aid Recruiting and Admissions with prospecting and enrollment.  

Many institutions don’t think of — or refer to — their incoming students as “leads.” From a capability standpoint, however, this is a great place to house inquiries and requests for information from individuals who might not make further contact with your institution.  

Lead data is easily captured from a variety of sources, from a form on your institution’s website to in-person interactions at a college fair. Furthermore, Opportunities can be used for prospects who communicate and express genuine interest: 

  • Recruiters can see a path with dedicated stages, for visibility into where prospects are in their journey. 
  • Including percentages with stages will create a funnel, so managers can see the probability and volume of prospects heading into an upcoming semester. 
  • Add more staff as Opportunity team members, so other members of the recruiting team or other types of advisors can be directly associated with the prospect. 

And if this weren’t enough, leaders in the higher education Salesforce community have taken this process a step further by creating an open source solution called Interactions for Student Recruitment, which tracks touchpoints from prospect nurturing and throughout the lifecycle. 

Student Success & Instruction: Advising Solutions 

One of my favorite things about Salesforce is Cases: flexible and diverse records for questions, problems to be solved, and advising. Cases can be opened in a variety of ways — manually, if talking face-to-face or on the phone with a student, auto-created via designated email address (Email-to-Case), or through an online webform (Web-to-Case). You can even automatically create a Case as a result of a chat from Live Agent.  

Cases can have types, categories, sub-categories, and a variety of other fields users can complete and utilize to properly route, track, and solve student issues:

  • Based on designated criteria, cases can be queued and routed to appropriate individuals for quick resolution. 
  • Milestones can be created to ensure Cases are resolved in a timely manner. 
  • More users can be assigned as case team members if students need collaborative advising from additional staff and multiple departments. 

While advisors are documenting sessions and recording student communications on Cases, departmental managers can utilize reports and dashboards to analyze caseloads, types, and resolution times. If your institution is looking for a robust solution to use Cases for advising but also to incorporate additional functionality, such as the ability to schedule appointments and create success plans, Salesforce Advisor Link might be an option to consider.  

The Eduventures graphic references Salesforce eight more times, but these two options alone could be the starting point of a true transformation at your institution, signaling the beginning of a campus-wide, 360-degree view of the student.  

We’d be happy to help evaluate your institution’s needs, define your vision, and prepare a roadmap for your future. If you’d like to know more, let's talk

About the Author

Kyla Farroll

Kyla Farroll is a Senior Consultant with Appirio after spending over two decades in higher education. Kyla has been a leader in Academic Advising, Financial Aid, Recruiting & Admissions, and Student Services, as well as championed student success initiatives and led system implementations. As part of the Digital Experience Strategy team, she helps guide higher education institutions to realize their transformational visions. Kyla is 3x Salesforce certified, is a Trailhead Ranger, and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and Master of Arts degree in media communications.

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