A cool customer

First things first. Before I get started on writing about our forthcoming CRM system I'd like to make mention of us making (another) awards shortlist!

This one is at the first ever Prospectus Postgraduate Awards where we are finalists for Best Website. The ceremony itself will take a bit of a different format from what we're used to as it's due to take place on 19th November in Manchester over a lunchtime! We're all excited that we're in the running for another website award, so watch this space for a write up of how we get on...
Anyway, on with the main event! Our new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software...

Our system of choice. We're currently
being trained on their new 'jazz' interface.
As far as marketing in the 21st Century is concerned no big company can be without a system like this! We are currently in the position where we have been relying on stitching together a number of different solutions (some online, some offline) in order to deliver our own CRM. However, soon after I began in this job it was decided that we needed a system which bought all this together in one place and made it more manageable.

And so began the tendering process... As a result of this the provider which we chose to go with was a Canadian company called Azorus. What swung it for them was the fact they offer integration into our SITS database and also have a good portfolio of existing university clients. We'd just have to work on ways to manage the time difference between us and them (and remember the dates of thanksgiving!)

We then needed to define exactly how the system would work. In short, it requires applicants to sign up (either online or via iPads at our open days) to access personalised content on the courses they are interested in (including student blogs and videos). We were very cautious at the planning stage to ensure that they would get some quality content which is also helpful to them (i.e. a calendar of UCAS deadlines etc.)

What is in it for us is that we can then send out targeted communications based on when they signed up (e.g. 'Thanks for coming to our open day' emails) and chart their progress through the application cycle to becoming fully fledged students. The SITS link is vital in this so that they don't continue to get communications from us once they have started university or have removed their applications for any other reason. We'd like to thank Leicester who have given us some great pointers on how they use the system and work with other teams to ensure it's success.

My team have been heavily involved in the implementation of the system which has now been named 'Belong at Bedfordshire' and will offer full support to staff on adding content, the design of the communications and overseeing the quality and production of the media rich content. Also, we're developing a plan for rollout on our website and are now looking into running both prospectus requests and sign ups via our course pages through it. It's exciting times but we need to remember to learn to run before we can walk as a system like this can have so many uses. The plan is that we have the complete system up and running for our community roadshows - the first one of these will be in the Watford Mall W/B 4th November.

Right - that's the introduction! No doubt, I'll be posting again soon on how the launch went. I now need to get back to writing my presentation ready for this Thursday's Squiz and Funnelback User Summit 2013. Knowing I'm going to be presenting in a room full of web professionals is quite a daunting prospect...!
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