If your school is still making prospective families ccomplete their admissions information on paper, there’s a good chance you’re losing enrolments and starting off on the wrong foot with those who go to the effort to enrol.

Customer relationship managers (or CRMs) are tools used in many industries to build, manage, and nurture relationships with prospective customers. It’s the central hub for all of your customer data, including their contact details as well as any interactions that you’ve had with them to date. CRMs have completely revolutionised B2B interactions, and now forward-thinking school admissions teams are also taking advantage of this technology.

From our 2022/23 State of K-12 School Admissions report, we know that schools are struggling with a dramatic increase in communication. In fact, the burden was ranked as an average of 94/100! Despite the amazing technology that's available, many schools are still juggling prospective families and their questions without a tailored CRM, or worse - no CRM at all!

We also know that admissions teams are stretched thin. According to the report, 77% of admissions teams handle more than just their own roles! 

In this post, we’re going to take a look at the top five reasons to make the switch to online enrolments using a school CRM. Let’s dive in!

1. Small admissions teams can boost their capacity

Most admissions teams in Australia are operating with small teams and limited resources. Implementing a CRM can significantly improve the amount of work that a small team can produce.

This is because CRMs streamline manual processes. Does your current enrolment process leave your team drowning in a sea of spreadsheets? Having to keep track of new enrolments through manual data entry chews up valuable time that you could be spending on more high-value tasks, such as ringing prospective families or working on your outreach emails.

By implementing a CRM, you can automate tasks such as: 

  • Notifying key team members when a lead progresses in your enrolment pipeline.
  • Checking in with leads that have stopped interacting with your school.
  • Sending a 'happy birthday' email to a prospective student.

2. Parents will love you for it

As of a few years ago, there is scarcely a single daily task that can’t be completed from any location using a mobile phone. From ordering groceries and keeping up with our favourite sporting teams to banking and paying bills, we now expect all of our transactions to be simple, intuitive and user-friendly. Companies that don’t offer the best digital experience get left in the dust of their competitors.

Your school’s enrolment process is no different.

Your success in admissions all comes down to the customer experience. Customer experience, or CX, is the process of optimising every touchpoint that a consumer will have with your brand. If you want to stop prospective families from slipping through the cracks, you'll need to focus on removing any barriers that might be getting in the way. 

By giving parents an option to digitally complete the entire enrolment process using a mobile-responsive form, they can complete the form on the go at a time and place that suits them. (Bonus points if they can save the parts of the form that they've already completed and come back to it at a later time!).

Your form will ideally feed directly into your school CRM, to eliminate any need to chase up parents for any details in the future. It’s a fact — parents will appreciate not needing to provide your school with their home address over and over!

3. You won't lose track of leads

We discussed how manual data entry is time-consuming for small admissions teams, but there’s an even more important reason you should eliminate it from your processes. Entering and storing data manually leaves you vulnerable to missing important information and losing leads as a result. 

Your database is your ‘golden ticket’ to capturing, nurturing and engaging prospective and current parents, so your data must be as accurate as possible. Inaccuracies can prevent you from finding the information you need quickly. They can also affect your reports, meaning your team will be forced to make decisions based on incorrect information.  

Using a digital enrolments system allows you to use data validation to ensure your records are as clean as possible. Data validation means that parents won’t be able to submit their enrolment application if they haven’t completed all of the required fields accurately. No more incorrect email addresses, no more invalid phone numbers and no more chasing up missing information — sounds pretty great, right?

4. You'll have a holistic view of your applications

At the moment, you might be receiving some enrolment applications in person, some through the mail and some by email. This means that your school may not have a thorough and data-driven understanding of your enrolment pipeline (at least, not until all of the enrolments are entered into your school system). Having an online admissions system means that you can view your leads at every stage, all in one place.

The key to converting your admissions leads is a deep understanding of prospective families journey to get there. This is what's known as the customer journey and usually involves three fairly broad stages: awareness, consideration and decision. Once you have fully mapped out your journey to enrolment, you can then assess which marketing and admissions efforts are contributing to your bottom line.

5. You'll reduce your environmental impact

Finally, moving from a paper-based system to a digital one will have an undeniable impact on your school's environmental footprint. You'll remove the need to print paper forms, both on your end and on your prospective parent's end (and let's face it — the number of individuals who have a printer in their home is dwindling!). 

A recent report by the Sustainable Development Commission on carbon footprints for schools shows that greenhouse gas emissions from schools stand at 9.4 metric tonnes per year. With a few small changes (including being smart with paper resources!), the Commission estimates that schools can significantly reduce their carbon footprints. 

It also reduces the need to purchase more and more filing cabinets to effectively store all of your records. Win, win, win! 

Getting started with a school CRM

If you want to ensure that prospective parents aren’t slipping through the cracks during the enrolment process, implementing a school CRM is the place to start. 

Some CRMs, such as Digistorm Funnel, now offer automation functionality. Automations allow you to set up a workflow that will automatically perform several repetitive processes based on your defined user actions. Automations can also clean up your data by automatically checking for inconsistencies and inaccuracies. 

Ready to ditch the spreadsheets?
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Published 5 October 2021