Why customer loyalty is one of the most valuable lessons in higher education right now

Mark Britton
by Mark Britton 21 June 2018

Building customer loyalty isn’t easy, but it’s widely accepted that it can be an extremely rewarding experience for both the organisations involved and the customers themselves.

Loyal customers can be found far and wide across all industries, with the onus on converting customers into brand ambassadors playing an increasingly important role, particularly within the world of higher education. Students who may have once attended former polytechnics are now being swayed by more prestigious options, with more elite institutions offering reduced fees and extending their unconditional offers in a bid to widen their recruitment nets.

But while universities may be switching up their tactics in an effort to welcome their quota of students through the doors each year, there’s also another side to the equation that’s impacting them equally as hard – student retention.

According to figures released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency earlier this year, drop-out rates among university students have risen for the third time in a row. The stats show that 26,000 students in England, who started studying for their first degree in 2015, didn’t make it past the first year.

Furthermore, there’s been mounting speculation around the impact Brexit will have on overseas students. It’s anticipated that the number of European students studying in the UK could plummet when Britain leaves the EU next year, with a Higher Education Policy Institute think-tank forecasting that numbers could drop by as much as 60%.

Like most organisations, universities and other higher education establishments are under increasing pressure to remain competitive and relevant to their customers

But with customer behaviour evolving at a similar pace as up-and-coming technologies, establishing loyalty in today’s 21st century digital era is no easy feat. Unless you’re one of the establishments that are turning to tech to determine your destiny…

The detail’s in the data

Some institutions are now using data to understand and get closer to their students, as well as paint a clearer picture of how their customer journey’s panning out.

How often they’ve logged into the virtual learning environment, attended lectures, visited the library and which subjects they’re more engaged with, are just some of the areas that universities can glean more details about with the right Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform in place. And it’s this level of insight that can then enable them to go away and establish who’s struggling and may need support sooner and, more importantly, who’s at risk of dropping out.

London South Bank University and Nottingham Trent University are just two institutions that are using technology to get closer to their students. LSBU are reportedly hoping that this approach will reduce their drop-out rate by 25% and Nottingham Trent is running a pilot that’s aimed at helping shed further light on students’ engagement levels.

Aside from establishing a greater level of insight, CRMs are being used by higher education institutions to deliver more targeted and responsive communications, respond to and follow up enquiries in a timely manner and ultimately, provide students with an exceptional customer experience – factors that can make all the difference between their students being customers and loyal customers.

Crimson has a complete series of Discovery Days, Review and Audit Workshops, and one-to-one consultancy that will help you get the best return on your CRM investment. If you want to enhance your existing technology or processes or find out which platform’s best for you, talk to us. For more information about using technology to attract and retain students now, and in the future, contact us on 01675 466 477.

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics CRM, microsoft dynamics 365, higher-education