Since its founding in 1867, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) has earned a reputation as a world-class leader in research, teaching and public engagement. More than 30,000 undergraduates are enrolled in over 150 fields of study offered by the university, which is ranked as one of the top public universities by U.S. News and World Report. It’s no wonder that 31,454 prospective freshmen applied in 2012, according to the Chicago Tribune.
With admissions officers stationed across the country, and internationally, one of the university’s main challenges was organizing the communication across each region. The 31,000 applicants pales in comparison to the number of prospects these admissions counselors interact with on a daily basis – whether it be at a school or at a college fair – and being able to reach out to and respond quickly with personalized information is crucial in finding the right candidate.
To help manage the communication volume of this magnitude, UIUC, which is now ranked as the “number-one wired college” according to PC Magazine based on the value it places on new and innovative technologies to enhance its practices, was in search of a platform that would enable it to centralize, automate and personalize communications across multiple pathways.
“We needed to be able to enter candidate information into the system and have it as part of the permanent record of interaction for that prospect,” said Stacey Kostell, the university’s director of admissions. “Our problem was that we didn’t have good prospect data. We could have been sending information to a prospective student who had already been denied admission.”
To solve these complex communications issues, UIUC turned to Campus Management’s Talisma Constituent Relationship Management (CRM), a strategic enrollment software solution, to enhance the admissions department’s ability to engage candidates, manage territories, stage and track events, and meet its recruiting objectives.
By implementing a universal CRM system to consolidate the communication between admissions counselors and prospective students from all over the world, UIUC is now better able to coordinate communications among other departments and territories. For example, if a student is interested in the music program, the admissions department and the music department are now sending complementary messages rather than bombarding the candidate with the same messages and materials.
“Talisma CRM enabled our admissions counselors to view information about student interests as well as all previous contact or interactions, whether it was a phone call, a letter, or a conversation or at a college fair,” continued Kostell.
The result was improved recruiting and retention due to a more personalized and automated communication process. The platform also gave UIUC the ability to track the progress and the effectiveness of specific events used to attract applicants. For example, the admissions department was able to gauge the effectiveness of its annual Orange and Blue Days to attract prospects, allowing them to compile data, determine which aspects of the event resonated with each prospect, and find a way to personalize the follow-up interaction.
“Before Campus Management deployed the Talisma CRM solution, if a prospective student visited our Website, he or she might get three identical emails from three different departments or counselors over a weekend. It wasn’t a very efficient process,” said Kostell. “Now we know who’s talking to whom.”