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Higher Education CRM


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Infusionsoft logo
 
Infusionsoft is a cloud-based sales and marketing platform that brings Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Marketing Automation, and E-Commerce together in one centralized system, so small businesses can deliver personalized sales... Read More
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Infusionsoft is a cloud-based sales and marketing platform that brings Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Marketing Automation, and E-Commerce together in one centralized system, so small businesses can deliver personalized sales... Read More
 
Salesforce.com logo
 
The Salesforce cloud is an on-demand customer relationship management (CRM) suite offering applications for small, midsize and enterprise organizations, with a focus on sales and support. The Salesforce app has capabilities that... Read More
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The Salesforce cloud is an on-demand customer relationship management (CRM) suite offering applications for small, midsize and enterprise organizations, with a focus on sales and support. The Salesforce app has capabilities that... Read More
 
HubSpot CRM logo
 
With its cloud-based, customer relationship management platform, HubSpot helps companies of all sizes track and nurture leads and analyze business metrics. HubSpot is suitable for any B2B or B2C business in a variety of segments, including... Read More
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With its cloud-based, customer relationship management platform, HubSpot helps companies of all sizes track and nurture leads and analyze business metrics. HubSpot is suitable for any B2B or B2C business in a variety of segments, including... Read More
 
ProsperWorks CRM logo
 
ProsperWorks is a cloud-based customer relationship management tool that gives users complete views of their customers. The program is applicable to any industry, including advertising, distribution and real estate. The ProsperWorks... Read More
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ProsperWorks is a cloud-based customer relationship management tool that gives users complete views of their customers. The program is applicable to any industry, including advertising, distribution and real estate. The ProsperWorks... Read More
 
NetSuite logo
 
NetSuite CRM+ is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution for small and midsize organizations. NetSuite caters to thousands of customers across a wide range of industries including wholesale distribution, manufacturing,... Read More
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NetSuite CRM+ is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution for small and midsize organizations. NetSuite caters to thousands of customers across a wide range of industries including wholesale distribution, manufacturing,... Read More

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Less Annoying CRM logo
 
Less Annoying CRM is a customer relationship management solution that caters to the needs of small businesses. It offers cloud-based deployment, various configuration options and a dashboard that provides an overview of contact information,... Read More
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Less Annoying CRM is a customer relationship management solution that caters to the needs of small businesses. It offers cloud-based deployment, various configuration options and a dashboard that provides an overview of contact information,... Read More
 
Insightly logo
 
Insightly CRM provides small and midsized businesses with a way to manage projects and track contacts, communications, sales, projects, tasks and documents in a single platform. It is available via the Web and on mobile devices. Designed... Read More
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Insightly CRM provides small and midsized businesses with a way to manage projects and track contacts, communications, sales, projects, tasks and documents in a single platform. It is available via the Web and on mobile devices. Designed... Read More
 
Results CRM logo
 
Results CRM is a software solution designed for small and midsize enterprise customers. It offers sales automation, project management, service orders and billing management within the suite. It is available for both Web-based and... Read More
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Results CRM is a software solution designed for small and midsize enterprise customers. It offers sales automation, project management, service orders and billing management within the suite. It is available for both Web-based and... Read More
 
Claritysoft logo
 
Claritysoft is a customer relationship management (CRM) solution designed for midsize and large enterprise businesses. It offers sales automation, customer service and support, marketing automation and social CRM within a single solution. Claritysoft... Read More
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Claritysoft is a customer relationship management (CRM) solution designed for midsize and large enterprise businesses. It offers sales automation, customer service and support, marketing automation and social CRM within a single solution. Claritysoft... Read More
 
Freshsales logo
 
Freshsales is a sales automation solution offering multi-platform capabilities including a native app for iPhone and iPad.  Included in the system is a one-click phone; no additional hardware or software is needed to use this feature.... Read More
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Freshsales is a sales automation solution offering multi-platform capabilities including a native app for iPhone and iPad.  Included in the system is a one-click phone; no additional hardware or software is needed to use this feature.... Read More

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Hatchbuck logo
 
Hatchbuck is a sales and marketing solution designed for small to midsize businesses. The integrated solution offers combined sales automation, marketing automation and email marketing features. Hatchbuck is a good fit for a wide range... Read More
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Hatchbuck is a sales and marketing solution designed for small to midsize businesses. The integrated solution offers combined sales automation, marketing automation and email marketing features. Hatchbuck is a good fit for a wide range... Read More
 
Freshdesk logo
 
Offering multi-channel customer support, Freshdesk brings together every customer conversation into a centralized interface, helping customer support agents address and resolve trouble tickets. Whether the interaction occurs over... Read More
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Offering multi-channel customer support, Freshdesk brings together every customer conversation into a centralized interface, helping customer support agents address and resolve trouble tickets. Whether the interaction occurs over... Read More
 
TeamSupport logo
 
TeamSupport is a B2B customer support software that helps teams collaborate together by eliminating miscommunications, improving customer communication and swiftly addressing client issues. TeamSupport has several key features that... Read More
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TeamSupport is a B2B customer support software that helps teams collaborate together by eliminating miscommunications, improving customer communication and swiftly addressing client issues. TeamSupport has several key features that... Read More
 
Really Simple Systems logo
 
Really Simple Systems CRM is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) system designed for small and midsize organizations. The solution comes in both free and paid editions. The free edition offers only sales force automation... Read More
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Really Simple Systems CRM is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) system designed for small and midsize organizations. The solution comes in both free and paid editions. The free edition offers only sales force automation... Read More
 
Salesforce.com Service Cloud logo
 
Service Cloud from SalesForce is a cloud-based customer service management solution that is designed to initiate customer service activities from anywhere. Built on the Salesforce1 Platform, Service Cloud works to centralize and optimize... Read More
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Service Cloud from SalesForce is a cloud-based customer service management solution that is designed to initiate customer service activities from anywhere. Built on the Salesforce1 Platform, Service Cloud works to centralize and optimize... Read More

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Help Scout logo
 
Help Scout is a cloud-based help desk solution that helps small businesses and small teams manage their customer relationships. Help Scout is designed to look like a personal email. There are no ticket numbers, case numbers or impersonal... Read More
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Help Scout is a cloud-based help desk solution that helps small businesses and small teams manage their customer relationships. Help Scout is designed to look like a personal email. There are no ticket numbers, case numbers or impersonal... Read More
 
Vivantio Pro logo
 
Vivantio is a service management system that allows users to create a personalized solution that aligns with internal business processes. Key features of the software include dashboards, charts, and reports, routing and assignments,... Read More
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Vivantio is a service management system that allows users to create a personalized solution that aligns with internal business processes. Key features of the software include dashboards, charts, and reports, routing and assignments,... Read More
 
Supportbench logo
 
Supportbench is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution suitable for businesses in a variety of industries. Key features include case management, calendars, analytics. Supportbench enables users to define escalations... Read More
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Supportbench is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution suitable for businesses in a variety of industries. Key features include case management, calendars, analytics. Supportbench enables users to define escalations... Read More
 
Oracle Sales Cloud logo
 
Oracle Sales Cloud is a sales management application under Oracle’s umbrella of hosted customer experience (CX) products. An emphasis on modern interface design, simplified cloud-based implementation and a highly functional native... Read More
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Oracle Sales Cloud is a sales management application under Oracle’s umbrella of hosted customer experience (CX) products. An emphasis on modern interface design, simplified cloud-based implementation and a highly functional native... Read More
 
inContact Hosted Call Center logo
 
inContact is a SaaS-based call center software that helps businesses to maximizes the quality of leads and minimizes the cost of client interaction. The solution comprises of many features required to process inbound support requests... Read More
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inContact is a SaaS-based call center software that helps businesses to maximizes the quality of leads and minimizes the cost of client interaction. The solution comprises of many features required to process inbound support requests... Read More

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Buyer's Guide

by Craig Borowski,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: August 25, 2017


Customer relationship management (CRM) software is central to modern business. It helps maintain and organize all of a company's information on its relationships with customers and is the foundation for creating more valuable relationships.

But what about higher education institutions (HEIs)? They aren't "businesses" in the normal sense of the word. HEIs have a range of relationship types—with prospective students, enrolled students and graduates—that don't fit any of the standard business world's molds. So what exactly is higher education CRM software, and how are colleges and universities using it? Read on to find out!

What Is Higher Education CRM Software?
How Is CRM Different From Other Higher Education Software?
Common Features of Higher Education CRM Software
Key Considerations for Purchasing Higher Education CRM Software

What Is Higher Education CRM Software?

Higher Education CRM software, and CRM software in general, serves one overarching goal: to create more valuable customer relationships. This includes making existing relationships more valuable as well as creating new relationships to in turn create value.

In the business world, more value usually means simply more money. But few schools are entirely profit-driven, so what exactly does "creating value" really mean in the context of an HEI? It can mean:

  • Attracting new students and increasing enrollment
  • Increasing student engagement in school activities
  • Growing community involvement with school programs
  • Strengthening relationships with alumni and faculty
  • Improving relationships with donors and alumni

These are some of the broader goals of higher education CRM software. We'll discuss them, and the specific CRM applications used to meet them, in more detail below. Before doing that, however, it will be helpful to first distinguish CRM from the other software platforms used by institutions for higher learning.

How Is CRM Different From Other Higher Education Software?

There's no shortage of software designed for HEIs. Traditionally, the most common type used by learning institutions is called school administration software. Another commonly used term is "student information system." These systems are designed to manage the mission-critical aspects of school administration, such as:

  • The application process
  • Class enrollment and scheduling
  • Tuition invoicing and billing
  • Class attendance and student grading
  • Class credit and graduation requirements
  • Student and parent contact information

Screenshots of student-facing portals in STARS school management system

Example screenshots of student-facing portals in STARS school management system

As you can see, school administration software focuses on the nuts-and-bolts activities of school administration. It operates in relatively black-and-white contexts where, for example, a student is either enrolled or is not; a bill is either paid or is not; and classes are either attended or not.

Contrast this with HEI CRM software, which operates in the much larger and much less black-and-white areas of school administration. It can help schools in the following areas:

  • Finding and attracting applicants from different pools and groups
  • Improving course offerings to increase retainment and better meet student needs
  • Strengthening student and alumni relations to improve fundraising
  • Clearly communicating a school's mission statement and benefit to the community

Put another way, school administration software and HEI CRM systems are both used to manage information. While school administration software uses that information to facilitate the school's daily operations, HEI CRM uses it to improve relationships while working toward a school's larger strategic goals, such as those listed above.

Common Features of Higher Education CRM Software

Speaking very generally, most HEIs seek CRM software to improve their recruitment programs, improve communication (with students, parents, donors and the general public) and improve fundraising efforts by strengthening relationships with alumni.

To meet these goals, HEI CRM systems help with data collection and analysis and the launching and management of campaigns that are based on that data analysis. Features and applications that are commonly built into HEI CRM systems can include:

Email marketing Automate email campaigns, measure their performance and iteratively improve them based on data from previous campaigns.
Recruit management These tools manage the entire pipeline of new applicants and recruits, automating many of the steps in these lengthy processes.
Data integration tools These apps help integrate data from other systems (e.g., school management and student information systems) to improve the CRM and vice versa.
Social media apps Social media monitoring apps help school administrators keep track of relevant online discussions and help coordinate the school's responses.
Contact information management A core app in all CRM platforms, these databases ensure schools use the right details when reaching out to applicants, students and other interested parties.
Personalized communications Personalization tools help automate the above (and other) activities by helping schools customize communications based on a recipient's current status or success of previous communications.

While CRM as a type of software has been around for decades, only in the past five or so years have vendors begun tailoring it to the specific needs of higher education institutions. It's a relatively young market, and offerings vary greatly between vendors.

Give our advisors a call at (844) 687-6771 if you need help determining which vendors offer which specific applications.

Key Considerations for Purchasing Higher Education CRM Software

Adoption: Single department or entire school? One lesson learned from the world of business is that CRM systems work best (and return the most value) when they're used by all of a company's customer-facing departments. Before a school begins the selection process, it should first have a clear understanding of how the system will be used across campus, not only in one isolated department.

Deployment. Cloud or on-premise? CRM software is typically offered as a cloud-deployed (aka Software-as-a-Service or SaaS) or as an on-premise solution. With cloud software, the school subscribes to the platform and the vendor manages everything on the back end. With on-premise software, schools typically pay a one-time licensing fee but then manage the installation on their own servers.

Integration. Integrated or stand-alone? As discussed above, most colleges and universities already use multiple different systems of software. Before settling on a new CRM system, the school should determine what degree of integration it needs with existing systems. This determination should be made with help from the school's IT staff.

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