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CRM Software for K-12 Education: How to Make the Right Choice
Connor Gleason

In recent years, customer relationship management (CRM) software has transitioned from a “nice to have” tool to an essential platform for schools. And, as we become more reliant on digital communication, the need for a reliable CRM for K-12 education will only continue to grow.

Working in busy admissions and enrollment office, you know keeping up with candidates and their families using manual processes is tedious and exhausting. From sending out carefully timed emails to tracking forms and applications, this seemingly incessant clerical work can consume a significant chunk of your workday (and your energy).

Worse, it can detract from your ability to build genuine connections with potential students and families.

Too often, despite your best efforts, critical information disappears from a folder’s journey from one department to the next, or a parent misses a form deadline — which can slow your timeline and frustrate everyone involved.

Now, imagine you have access to technology that automates many of these processes, allowing you to streamline the admissions and enrollment process, take the weight off your shoulders, and free up time for crucial relationship-building efforts.

That’s precisely what a CRM can do for your team.

But what, exactly, is a CRM and which factors should you consider when comparing solutions? And how can you convince senior leadership teams to invest in one of these powerful tools?

What is a CRM?

A CRM (customer relationship management) platform is a type of software that helps organizations of all sizes across a vast array of industries manage their contacts, contact data, and contact communications.

Just like a CRM, enrollment management software for schools is useful for tracking communications and engagement between families, generating enrollment reports, and performing data analyses for important enrollment metrics.

There are many CRM solutions on the market today, but only a fraction are built specifically for schools — and even fewer were explicitly built for K-12 admissions and enrollment purposes.

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What can a K-12 CRM do for schools?

Contact/prospect management

A powerful admission and enrollment software for schools will help you build out profiles for each prospective student and keep their data organized, safe, and easily accessible by approved parties.

Communication tools

Many enrollment management systems give you the ability to send messages to students and their families directly from the software so you can track those messages within the students’ profiles. The best enrollment management tools also provide automated, personalization to enhance the candidate experience.

And when it comes to automating internal tasks and reminders, these helpful features can assist the enrollment team with manual tasks and keep the focus on deeper-level engagements with families.

Powerful Reporting

CRMs give you the power to run custom reports in real time so you can analyze whatever data you’d like, measure campaign performance, and identify areas of opportunity within your admissions processes. In most cases, you can export data to easily share with other teams across your institution.

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Benefits of CRMs for Schools

The right CRM can help you save time and eliminate time-consuming headaches by automating many tedious admissions and enrollment processes. Plus, it provides greater visibility into your efforts and keeps data centralized so everyone can stay on the same page.

After all, when all teams have access to the same information, it’s much easier to collaborate and make decisions.

Empty School Room

Streamline your efforts

CRMs give you both high-level and granular views into your processes and track communications with each individual candidate. This way, you can quickly pinpoint and resolve obstacles to alleviate bottlenecks in your operations.

Improve the candidate experience

Instead of sending generalized emails that often fail to engage candidates, CRMs with personalization tools allow you to tailor messages directly to prospective students and their families. And you can codify your efforts with custom workflows to ensure contacts are receiving exactly the right message at whichever point in the process makes the most sense.

Keep the process moving

Enrollment professionals know how challenging it can be to keep applications on track and moving forward. By scheduling automatic touch points and reminders, you can prevent stalls and identify whether candidates’ parents have questions/concerns you need to address.

Power personalization

Personalization works because most people want and expect it. Once you’ve gathered and compiled data within your CRM, you can use that information to create highly personalized messages and continue to optimize your communications around contacts’ behaviors.

“What we’re seeing from our families is the expectation that we really understand their child,” Dianne said Dianne Dunning-Gil, St. Joseph’s Academy’s Director of Enrollment. “Even in that first engagement, there needs to be the expectation that communications are customized to what they're looking for. From what’s collected in an inquiry form to every phone call — all of those interactions need to be cultivating a very personalized experience.”

Keep reading about how St. Joesph's Academy partnered with Finalsite Enrollment to provide a tailored experience, helping see a 46% boost in inquiries and a 24% increase in enrollment.

Eliminate messy data

Gone are the days of file cabinets, sorting through paper forms, and manually trying to keep everything in order. A CRM will help you clean and organize records for easier access and fewer headaches.

How Do You Know It’s Time to Switch Admission and Enrollment Software?

Even if you recognize what a CRM can do for you, it can still be challenging to justify the money and time investments associated with any software implementation. And if you’ve already purchased technology to help manage your contacts, you may feel stuck — even if it’s not yielding the results you expected.

Keep Reading: 4 Questions to Ask When Choosing School Enrollment Software

Signs it’s time to invest in a student enrollment management system

Your current solution is too complicated

Anything adding an unnecessary layer of complexity to your processes is siphoning your resources. Your enrollment management solution should make you and your team more efficient, not slow you down.

You still employ people to handle data entry

Manual data entry is a burden for every admission and enrollment professional. Just imagine how much faster and more productive you and your team would be if you didn’t have to dedicate employees to data entry duties.

You have no centralized communication system

In many schools, communications happen across multiple channels and platforms — from “snail mail” and in-person chats to phone calls and email. With no easy way to record these communications, you never know who has been in touch last, or when. CRMs track all this activity for your admissions team, preventing duplicate efforts and ensuring no one slips through the cracks.

You can’t run a report without help from IT

What do you do when you need to analyze a specific data set? If you always have to ask for help from your IT team just to run reports, you don’t have the right software. A CRM should be so user-friendly, you and your team can manage it alone — and your provider should offer their own support for moments when you need extra assistance.

Sharing papers

You’re still using paper files to track admissions/enrollment documents

Paper can be lost or damaged, and files can be misplaced — plus, they’re a pain to organize. A CRM will help modernize your processes and ensure you can access the data you need, even if you’re miles away from the office.

Keep Reading: Convincing Your School to Invest in Enrollment Management Software

Key takeaway

The burden on your admission and enrollment teams is growing heavier as candidates and parents begin to expect constant, highly tailored communication, and a digital-friendly experience. By investing in a CRM designed for K-12 education, you can ease your burden and streamline your candidates’ journeys, too.

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