Higher Education Heroes: Showcasing CRM Impact in Student Recruitment

Posted by Daniel Barrass

The University of Derby 

The University of Derby implemented Tribal's Student Marketing and Recruitment solution to improve its marketing, recruitment, schools liaison, and event management programs. The solution has centralised and streamlined the University's process of managing enquiries, with over 140k enquiries managed since its launch in April 2018 and over 50 mailboxes managed through the CRM. The University's Central Enquiries team operates an SLA of 24 hours for initial response and aims to close all enquiries within 48 hours. Tribal's solution has improved the University's ways of working, including managing complex data, tracking activity with key schools and colleges, providing a stable system for holding data, and offering better reporting capabilities. Over 500 outreach events have been set up and managed successfully, improving the visibility of outreach activity and its contribution to student recruitment. 

The Student Experience Manager in the Online department explains: “CRM has enabled us to more easily and accurately track conversations with our students.  The use of templates has not only improved efficiencies, it has enabled us to reinforce standardised practices.  We are also able to target the most urgent emails through the use of cases. Dashboards enable us to more accurately record peak periods of activity and identify the most common queries sent through to us. This supports more effective resource management and proactive communications to students to reduce the number of queries received.” 

In addition, the University of Derby has also been able to harness the functionality in the area of business development to better support the institution’s commercial activity, and engagement. Their Enquiry Centre Co-ordinator for business development explains some of the benefits they are seeing: 

Tribal’s CRM based on Dynamics 365 has been rolled out across a number B2B areas of the University. The Business Enquiry team were the first team to trial Dynamics from a B2B perspective and they are already benefiting from the results. “The Enquiry Team use a variety of CRM functionality to record the level of engagement that the University has with external commercial contacts and organisations through recording of event registrations, enquiries, opportunities and by keeping future lists of contacts to notify about a new product/service through the utilisation of Marketing Lists.  Through the reporting functionality, we are able to see real time data on the number of enquiries coming into the University from businesses and where they are being referred on to.” 


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Durham University  

Durham University aimed to improve its recruitment and retention process for both domestic and international students and replaced its spreadsheets and point solutions with a CRM platform. It chose Tribal's Marketing & Recruitment solution based on Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform to drive recruitment conversion rates and improve student engagement. The solution provided a seamless process from capturing enquiries to application and offer and was crucial during the Covid-19 outbreak for business continuity. The university also improved the experience for agents and increased its marketing capabilities for open days. The implementation of the CRM was seen as transformational by stakeholders, however, it was a long journey and it was important to gradually deploy the platform to avoid overwhelming people. 

John Hemingway, appointed as CIO in 2019, has dual responsibility for the university’s strategic direction and oversight of digital Information Services (IS), as well as directing the university’s core IS provider and co-ordinating the others. He explains the decision to implement Tribal’ solution:

Ultimately Durham University was looking to meet ambitious recruitment targets that were only achievable if we had a platform that enabled growth plans through efficiency gains. The university is now positioned to achieve those growth targets in international markets, but of course, the world has since changed and this market is under unprecedented stress due to a global pandemic... Thankfully, with the move to the cloud comes resilience and availability.” 


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University of Aberdeen 

The University of Aberdeen needed to update its student engagement and conversion processes, as its manual enquiry management processes lacked performance measurement and follow-up communication with enquirers. To improve student recruitment, they implemented a CRM developed specifically for higher education, which integrated with their student management system and delivered more effective marketing, enquiry management, admissions tracking, and open-day management. The CRM system, based on Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform, was selected to facilitate the proactive engagement processes needed. The University digitally transformed their enquiry handling and broader student recruitment support in a 3-phase approach and achieved cost savings, improved customer experience, enhanced data insights, and better decision-making through improved Business Intelligence. The CRM system was recognized with awards for best use of data and insight, and the University achieved objectives for both the short-term and their longer-term approach. 

In a 3-phase approach, the University has digitally transformed its enquiry handling and broader student recruitment support all on schedule and within budget. Both internal and external awards have been won by the project team in recognition of their achievement. In the HEIST Awards 2021, the University achieved the bronze award for the best use of data and insight. The judges’ commented “This entry provided a detailed plan of action which led to strong results and had a positive impact on the university, achieving objectives for both the short term and their longer-term approach. Well done University of Aberdeen.” 

In this room we handle all incoming enquiries to the University in our amazing new CRM system. We also manage all outbound communications and conversion projects. One of the biggest benefits of the CRM system is the ability to see all enquirer, applicant and engagement data in one place. This allows us to put our energies into the right projects. These digital advances have allowed us to enhance the personal service we are known for.” Megan McFarlane from the University of Aberdeen ethusiastically says of her workplace


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