CRM as Technology and Strategy: A Core Value of Student Success
A few months ago, the Chronicle highlighted recent efforts by the University of Maine to centralize its processes and programs through an initiative called “One University.” This initiative not only creates system-wide efficiencies, but also breaks down barriers to student success. As Lee Gardner wrote in the piece, “bringing more students into a traditional ecosystem of individual state universities that duplicate the same sorts of programs and resources,” might tentatively improve enrollment, but it could never fix systemic issues relating to student recruitment, persistence and overall satisfaction. “One University” represents an effort to merge disparate operations in a way that ultimately benefits students. Before, “every campus in the [University of Maine] system used the same software to manage their student databases, but they had all implemented it differently, making it difficult to share data,” however, “over the past two years, the system has worked to [make] it easier to cross-list courses, transfer credit and budget across institutions.” In other words, the concept of “One University” functions by constructing a seamless customer experience across multiple modalities.
As my esteemed colleague, Sam Waterson, argued in a previous post, the customers of today set the expectations that will govern their interactions with providers of various products and services. That is, contemporary relations of exchange are customer-centered. One of the primary goals of companies and institutions that facilitate exchange is (or should be) creating seamless and flexible ways for customers to engage with their products or services. Put differently, the reciprocity of the exchange between customer and industry is a kind of relationship that needs to be adequately sustained and nurtured for both parties to benefit from the exchange. This is the basis for CRM (Customer Relationship Management), both as a technology and as a strategy.