I do believe my marketing and marketing technology experience gives me some unique value to add to the educational conversation—at least in this instance.
Marketing 101: The Customer Experience
Before I came to Motivis, I worked at a large marketing services agency that was in the process of rebranding itself as an expert in smarter customer interactions. The company chose to pursue this identity because any good marketer today knows that reaching prospects, turning them into buyers and developing them into brand advocates in the digital age is a whole new animal.
That is to say that every single interaction matters. Before and after the sale.
All of those interactions ultimately add up to how consumers perceive your brand—the customer experience. A positive customer experience means that they’re more likely to continue interacting with the brand to build a quality relationship. A negative customer experience—well, we know how that ends up.
The CRM: Tracking the Customer Journey
In order to optimize customer interactions (and the overall experience), each interaction needs to be carefully tracked, the data stored in an accessible, meaningful fashion, and the correct data needs to be floated up to the employees responsible for the various interactions to drive improved decision making. All of these moves and interactions can be carefully watched and acted upon from within the framework of a customer relationship management system (CRM).
For example, if an account manager at a software company has the data to see that his client has made three calls to customer support in the past week, he might choose to proactively reach out to the client to find out if there is a larger issue at hand and how he might be able to help. Such an interaction would likely impress the client and expedite the effort to solve her technical complaints, improving her overall experience of the company and increasing her likelihood to remain a customer.
Translating to Education: The Learner Experience
Optimizing the customer experience is extremely similar to what savvy schools are trying to do with their learner experience—the entirety of it must be managed and optimized, from prospect through enrollment and financial aid; through academics, career, graduation and alumni engagement.
And to optimize these interactions, each interaction that the student has with the institution—from checking out a program on the website to interacting with student groups—needs to be consolidated into a useful, holistic view of that learner, available to a variety of stakeholders.
Harkening to our earlier example, let’s imagine that a student calls your technical help desk three times in a week. Most faculty and academic advisors would never be aware of these calls; the help desk is not typically integrated with the student information system, the learning management system, the advising system, etc. However, this student’s issue may be impacting her ability to complete her work, and it would behoove other stakeholders to be aware so that they can reach out with appropriate support.
The Future of Education: How CRM becomes LRM
I’ve been lucky that marketing and sales technology has been developing at a faster pace than educational technology. The CRM platform, which plays a significant role in managing the customer experience, has been evolving since the late 80s. Many CRM providers, such as Salesforce, Oracle and Microsoft, have realized that end-to-end integrated technology and seamless data transfer is crucial for a consistent customer experience. Vendors have therefore been developing, buying and integrating complementary products—marketing automation, customer service and social platforms, for example—to assist in managing and optimizing all customer interactions.
And the best CRM systems, while offering end-to-end suites to manage the entire customer lifecycle, still allow users flexibility through the easy, seamless integration with other systems.
The education industry has not been so lucky. Most educational technology solutions are silos that, to date, have been designed for specific administrative, functional or educator needs—while largely ignoring the student and creating a disjointed experience for learners and educators alike. Ed tech today typically mirrors how schools work internally, not how students interact with their schools naturally.
Oh, and all of these siloed systems rarely get along well (in other words, they’re not easy to integrate). Your school may have a stellar IT team that has been able to string together some systems for minimal, often one-way, conversation. But there’s no easy data flow across courses, departments, disciplines, etc.
The result of this traditional technology environment is that no one at your institution has a clear, complete view of the student. This means it’s impossible to optimize interactions with the student, end-to-end, across the full student lifecycle—and that the student experience is not under institutional control.
There’s (finally) a better way.
The advent of the CRM revolutionized the way businesses interact with their customers, and has placed said customers at the center of the experience, storing all end-to-end data on one record, accessible to a variety of stakeholders based on their roles.
LRM Will Do the Same for the Learner Experience
Learning relationship management (LRM) is the natural evolution of siloed, course-centric technology to a fully-integrated, student-centric platform that combines elements of LMS, SIS, community engagement, coaching, career, and alumni engagement. It integrates student interaction data and makes it accessible to a variety of stakeholders to improve their decision making and optimize each student interaction.
It’s the CRM for education.
Through optimizing interactions, stakeholders (educators, advisors, coaches, etc.) build relationships with the student and improve her overall experience as a learner—encouraging her to continue interacting with the school as a student, graduate, and eventually alumnus.
The parallel between CRM and LRM is not just theoretical. We believe in the power of CRM to transform the student experience so much that we have built our LRM product on Salesforce—perhaps one of the best-known CRM platforms. In case you’re wondering, no, CRM is not just for business. Education has unique needs, but there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel when CRM has made such great strides in interaction and experience management. We’re taking the best of CRM and customizing it to a learning environment.
Why I Chose Motivis Learning
The parallels between customer experience and student experience are what excited me about making an industry switch and joining the team at Motivis Learning. Instead of helping companies delight buyers with their customer experience, we’re helping schools delight students with their learning experience. Instead of working to progress people along their individual buying paths, we are working to progress students along their individual learning paths.
That’s a bit more fulfilling, if you ask me. And there is so much room to grow.
(And if I do my job correctly, you will hopefully someday associate the name “Motivis” with “LRM”, just as you now associate “Salesforce” with “CRM.”)