Serving more than 5,000 students, Hennepin Technical College (HTC) is one of the most innovative and diverse higher education institutions in the state of Minnesota. In addition to being a nationally recognized and award-winning institution, HTC is also a leader in value and affordability, with 64% of its learners coming from underrepresented populations.
With a mission to further put student success at the center of the picture and provide world-class service and support, HTC recognized that it had an opportunity and a need to better understand its constituents’ primary needs.
HTC’s Enrollment Services department leveraged the power of Education Cloud to improve its recruitment and admissions processes, streamline workflows, improve collaboration, and harness its data to make better decisions and support students along their journey.
10%increase in new student enrollment (from summer 2020 to summer 2021)
47%decrease in abandonment rate at the HTC Call Center
Reducing Barriers Through Better Visibility
To provide better support to prospective students, especially those unfamiliar with the application process, HTC needed stronger insights into how those students were engaging with the enrollment lifecycle.
“We needed a tool to gain visibility and dissect every step of the prospective student experience, so we could help reduce barriers and make sure students were taking care of their enrollment items and successfully getting registered and ready to start their program,” said Debra Newgard, HTC’s Dean of Enrollment Services.
With HTC’s existing system, admissions and enrollment was a very manual process consisting of disconnected spreadsheets and databases, on top of an archaic student information system that was not user friendly. The system lacked flexibility, and silos between departments made it difficult to track a student’s progress or see what conversations were taking place.
The result was poor customer service and undervalued interactions. There was an urgent need for a tool that could provide greater visibility into the interactions students were having with the college.
”We just knew we had to do something to make sure that our staff could answer every question and provide exceptional service to every student,” said Newgard.
“In terms of proactively communicating with students and documenting interactions, we went from zero percent to one hundred percent.” Dr. Turner Berg , Associate Dean of Enrollment ServicesHennepin Technical College
Filling In Information Gaps with a Customizable Platform
HTC’s decision to implement Education Cloud was based on its power, customizability, and capacity to fill in the information gaps and bring visibility to the enrollment experience.
HTC developed a clear vision for integrating data and embarked on a phased implementation. To achieve the customizability they needed, they built from the ground up, working with an implementation partner to round out their expertise.
In phase one, HTC focused on integration and the ‘interest to application’ points of the recruiting cycle, starting with the prospecting process. They used Salesforce to improve how students request information and how recruiters connect with those students and manage caseloads. This included launching new tools to track interactions, share calendars, and produce reports. HTC also leveraged Salesforce’s mobile capabilities and enabled recruiters with texting capabilities so that they could better reach students on the communication channels they prefer.
In phase two, HTC addressed the ‘application through enrollment’ aspects of the cycle. The team used Marketing Cloud Account Engagement to design drip email campaigns to funnel students through each step of the enrollment cycle to the point of being ready to register for courses.
Marketing Cloud Account Engagement
Transformative Results in Serving Students Better
Despite national trends toward declining community college enrollment numbers, with Salesforce in place, HTC realized a 10% increase in new student enrollment (from summer 2020 to summer 2021). The admissions and enrollment team made significant improvements to their operations, including new efficiencies, enhanced collaboration and data-driven decision making. As a result, HTC has transformed its capabilities to reach, engage and support prospective students and new learners on their journeys.
Automated Tasks and Enhanced Workflows
Within the Enrollment Services department, Salesforce helped streamline administrative functions and automate manual tasks. The department reorganized and enhanced many facets of their workflows, including the call center and queuing system as well as the student appointment calendar. This has helped move students through the enrollment funnel faster and enriched the level of service students received. After implementing Salesforce, HTC’s call center saw an average decrease in abandonment rate of 47%.
Communicating With Students Where They’re At
On the engagement end, Salesforce aided in optimizing HTC’s enrollment communications, automating tasks such as email reminders and developing features like dynamic checklists and registration buttons. On top of saving time and freeing up staff to focus on in-person connections, it’s made the experience easier and more engaging for students.
“We can now communicate with our students and prospects where they’re at, instead of where we’re at,” said Shannon Thomas, Associate Vice President of Technology Research and Planning. “This has really shifted the landscape for HTC.”
“In terms of proactively communicating with students and documenting interactions, we went from zero percent to one hundred percent,” said Dr. Turner Berg, Associate Dean of Enrollment Services. “We can now connect and receive responses earlier in the interest cycle and this improves the odds of them successfully enrolling and being more prepared to start their program.”
Groundbreaking Integration and Collaboration
With better data integration, internal stakeholders across the college are now more involved in the student lifecycle. Staff and faculty can now share notes, appointment records and interactions on each and every incoming student.
“It’s been groundbreaking in how we collaborate and much more organic and holistic,” said Elizabeth Gieseke, Project Manager. “Instead of starting at the beginning with each new student interaction, we can now see what conversations have already taken place and we can work together much better as a team.”
A Tactical Approach to Admissions
Unifying its data and gaining greater visibility into the student experience made it possible for HTC to proactively identify issues and make informed decisions.
Users now have rapid access to a single source of truth and can easily build custom reports and dashboards. The insights have led to more effective resource allocation toward strategic priorities and key services areas, such as diversity and inclusion or admissions marketing.
“We’re now able to customize marketing dollars towards certain majors due to the insights we’ve gained and the ability to trickle that back up the line to the decision-makers,” said Dr. Berg.
“We are much more strategic now and we can do better planning,” said Newgard. “The ability to gain a holistic view of each student has allowed us to be very tactical on the front end of admissions and make multiple key decisions.”
About Hennepin Technical College
Hennepin Technical College (HTC) is a nationally recognized, award-winning technical college with two campuses in the suburban Minneapolis, Minnesota metropolitan area. HTC’s mission is to provide excellence in career and technical education to help students find employment and advance in an ever-changing global environment.
A leader in value and affordability, HTC is among the best in the nation for producing graduates who earn high salaries and have low student loan debt. The institution is dedicated to student success and inclusion, strategically aligned to help academic advancement, and removing barriers for historically underrepresented populations.