Universities have been on a digital transformation journey for a number of years. Many early digital projects were stand-alone initiatives that replaced a specific system or added a digital front door to a largely siloed existing system. As the pandemic fundamentally changed how universities engage with students and prospects, the institutions saw an accelerated need for more-holistic digital transformations. Embracing a comprehensive approach is now necessary to provide a meaningful exchange, as most student interactions have moved completely online. Where can universities begin?
Make Communication Personal to Stay Engaged
Today’s students come from a “digital native” generation. They have grown up on mobile devices and are more comfortable researching, evaluating, applying, and engaging with others online.
This new student cohort expects organizations to know who they are and how they want to engage. They are familiar with on-demand customized content that resonates with them and their specific interests.
To respond to the needs of this generation and the changing digital environment, universities need to bring all data together from different parts of the organization, from admissions through alumni relations. Having access to all this data empowers universities to tailor messages and content specifically to each person and his/her unique journey. This is key to having an engaged audience.
Digital First, But Mobile Before That
For educational institutions, being “digital” is no longer enough. The ubiquitous nature of mobile devices – which are now engrained in our everyday life – means universities must meet students, prospective students, and alumni were they are – on mobile.
The 360-degree approach to a digital transformation must put mobile engagement first. Enable systems to engage students on any platform and at any time. Design student journeys that make all interactions customizable and device agnostic. Put the student experience at the forefront and build experiences that excite them, keeping them engaged and encouraging them to return to perform more and more tasks that move them through the prospect journey.
Take a Unified View of Each Contact
Educational institutions engage with different types of stakeholders across the learning lifecycle, from prospective or current students to graduates, donors, and parents. Any individual can be in any of these groups at any given time. To ensure the best contact is made with each, and that the most-relevant content is provided, a complete view of every contact is necessary.
A current student may be interested in post-graduate study, or a parent may be an alumni and also a key industry contact. Most universities have multiple siloed systems that may not share this information and hence cause delays in responses. Worse yet, the silos may cause the institution to offer incomplete or irrelevant information to a contact. Providing university teams with a full picture of all previous interactions requires integrating multiple different systems with the goal of providing fast, customizable user experiences. With a tool like the Salesforce 360 customer platform, all customer interactions and all the data is on one system, enabling anyone to view it simply by managing employee authorization rights.
Moving From In-Person to Online Interactions Improves the User Experience
With the temporary shutdown of live recruiting events, many universities had to quickly pivot to deliver these programs in a digital format. Traditionally, education and career fairs had been the primary source to engage with potential students, learn more about prospects, and provide information about the school, available programs, and campus life.
When converting these events to a digital format, make sure all the information is in one place. This is essential to ensure the right people are informed about the right content at the right time. In fact, centralized data can make it possible to address inquiries faster and with more personalization than would be possible at an in-person event.
For online events, being able to track who registered, who has attended, and who has engaged with what content allows the university to continue engaging students and prospects with next steps or arrange a more-detailed interaction. For those who didn’t attend a virtual event, universal access to all interactions makes it easy for the university to re-engage these students and keep them moving along the prospect journey.
Proven Experience in Higher Education Digital Transformations
Wipro, a global Salesforce Higher Education partner, has enabled multiple educational institutions to transform their student experiences into a 360-degree digital journey. Through long-term partnerships, Wipro has helped these institutions achieve comprehensive all-digital journeys that allow the universities to quickly assist, deploy customized interactions, and host digital events with platform-agnostic solutions. These accelerated digital transformations have ensured that these organizations can continue to meet the challenges of a digital-native generation and a rapidly changing market.