What does Success look like?

They say “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and this certainly rings true based on an analysis of Crimson’s CRM implementations within HE over a recent 12 month period.

Crimson is a specialist supplier of CRM-based solutions to the HE sector and the 12 months between June 2017 and May 2018 yielded a flurry of new business with Crimson winning orders from 9 universities. Although higher education is a relatively homogeneous sector it is interesting that each of these new customers perceives the relevance of CRM and the way they will use it in a number of different ways.

Group of students sharing with the ideas on the campus lawnMaybe this shouldn’t be surprising as CRM is a highly configurable and customisable solution and can be used to support many facets of a university’s business. Similarly CRM can deliver many benefits at both the institutional and operational level.

A review of the most common benefits achievable with CRM and the perception of each of Crimson’s new customers makes for an interesting analysis.

Marketing, recruitment and conversion

At the institutional, or decision-maker level, CRM will deliver more effective marketing, generating a greater number of higher quality enquiries which are more easily converted into enrolments via the recruitment process. The universities of Cardiff, Northampton and Derby have all chosen CRM to transform these aspects of their business.

“The First Choice Programme is a major initiative by Cardiff University to improve the effectiveness of its student recruitment and admissions functions and improve the service offered to prospective students. There is a particular emphasis on offer conversion to encourage students to make Cardiff their first choice.”


“In a phased implementation, Northampton will deploy Accelerators for Student Recruitment, Admissions Management Event Management and Schools & Colleges Liaison. Crimson will also use the powerful new features within Dynamics 365 to design and deploy an Admissions Portal to provide an exciting new experience for direct applicants”.


“Earlier this year (2017), the University decided to procure and implement in partnership, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to allow it to better manage a range of disconnected, often manually produced, contact and enquiry lists”.


Recruitment, Retention & Re-engagement

These may well be the 3-R’s of higher education and it is not surprising that CRM is perceived as having a role to play in all aspects of the student lifecycle. Once recruited, the emphasis moves to retention with all the welfare and support processes that this entails. Following completion, the objective shifts to re-engagement either in an alumnus capacity or for CPD. University of the West of Scotland and University of Northampton are all investing in multi-phase implementations which will encompass all these aspects.

“A key part of the University’s ‘far-sighted approach to technology’was its aim to implement an end-to-end CRM system to support the student lifecycle so that it could get a better understanding of areas where students were having a good or bad experience and could react accordingly.” 


“In a phased implementation, Northampton will deploy Accelerators for Student Recruitment, Admissions Management Event Management, Schools & College Liaison, Student Welfare and Alumni & Fundraising. On the business and enterprise side of the University it will implement Accelerators for Business Development and Employability.” 

Customer Experience

The very basis of good customer engagement is a positive customer experience and this is achieved by the operational benefits of CRM which empower staff to achieve the enhanced service levels on which this is based. Central to this is the “single customer record” principle of CRM which tracks all customer interactions and presents staff with a 360 degree view of the customer. Sheffield Hallam, UWS and Cardiff University all see this as key to their transformational approach.


“We’re very much focused on the student experience.”


“Other Universities have multiple CRM systems because different faculties cannot agree on how it should be set up, but this is not cost-effective or easy for students to use.”

“Cardiff University’s Centre for Student Life will create an inclusive and integrated model that enables seamless service collaboration and referral, drawing on a rich student enquiry evidence-base to deliver targeted, personalised and proactive services within a culture of intelligence-led continuous improvement.”

With this in place, specific, timely and relevant communication is achievable and this confirms to customers and potential customers that you have their best interests at heart.


“Additionally, this will aid in deployment of essential student communications…”


“…the University is particularly keen to ensure that every student enjoys a rich blend of learning during their residency and offers a wide range of co-curricular and extra-curricular learning. Crimson’s Event Management Accelerator will provide the backbone of this service along with a purpose-built Portal…”


Process led

In addition to having all the relevant information to hand is the ability for the system to truly support staff with their key business processes so they can provide a top level service to customers in the most efficient way. Sheffield Hallam, Northampton, Derby and Kingston have all highlighted this as a key factor not just in using CRM, but working with a partner like Crimson who brings a wealth of HE experience and specific functionality.


“If you notice the technology, something’s wrong – it should just be there. Previous attempts to use CRM haven’t been as successful as we’d hoped, so finding a partner like Crimson who is prepared to work to our agenda, bringing CRM and sector knowledge is invaluable”. 


“Universities have somewhat unique requirements when it comes to relationship management as our networks are extremely diverse. Because of our pre-existing relationship with Crimson, we were confident they could deliver a system with enhanced functionality to ensure our teams can manage their contacts in a streamlined way.”


“The University of Derby is excited to be working with Crimson on the roll out of Microsoft Dynamics and the Accelerators and is eager to embrace the positive changes this will bring to the business as a whole”, 


“We were particularly keen to select a partner which could provide sustainability by investing long term in their core solution and we found that with Microsoft at the platform level and Crimson for HE-specifics.” Kingston University.

Digital transformation

Despite these varying perspectives, there are some reassuringly consistent themes. CRM is widely recognised as being able to transform the recruitment process. Many also recognise the role it can play throughout the student lifecycle by improving retention rates and subsequent re-engagement for continuing study or alumnus activities. At the solution level, Crimson is recognised as having a significant lead in its ability to support all these processes with its range of functional Accelerators. These deliver sector best practice, “out-of-the-box” and enable staff to quickly attain the high service levels which translate into the positive customer experience so essential to recruitment, retention and re-engagement.