Old Dominion University Processes Applications Up to 14 Days Faster with Salesforce
About Old Dominion University
Old Dominion University (ODU) is Virginia’s entrepreneurial-minded public doctoral research university with more than 24,000 students, rigorous academics, an energetic residential community, and initiatives that contribute $2.6 billion annually to Virginia’s economy. Founded in 1930, ODU has grown to encompass eight academic colleges and a graduate school offering more than 150 degree programs.
Searching for Centralized CRM
To manage recruiting and admissions for its diverse student body, ODU implemented three separate CRM systems over the years: one for undergraduate admissions, one for graduate admissions, and one for retention purposes.
“Getting a single CRM system that could handle all those areas was one of our main goals,” said Matt Newton, Director of CRM and Integrated Systems Enrollment Management. “Having three separate systems – and a ‘one record per person’ data model – limited the amount of data we could capture on students, which prevented us from having a seamless, single view of the student and being able to service them in the manner we’d like to.”
After forming a committee and evaluating several options, ODU selected Salesforce.org Education Cloud as the ideal solution to help it make new strides around recruiting and admissions.
“Salesforce is a true enterprise solution, so it can really solve a lot of different challenges,” said David Kozoyed, Executive Director, Enterprise Systems Information Technology Services. “It was flexible and customizable enough to address our needs around admissions, recruiting, and retention – but it also had the potential to solve other offices’ challenges. Having a platform that we could build upon – and that could easily be customized, modified, and extended – was a big draw for us.”
Serving Students Better with the Timely Responses They Expect
Having this foundation in place has allowed ODU to make several important enhancements around its recruiting and admission processes.
For starters, they’ve been able to significantly streamline the application process for students, shaving days – and even weeks – off of application turnaround. Education Cloud products like Sales Cloud – as well as 3rd party products available through the AppExchange, like TargetX – have been critical in this area.
“Salesforce really changed the way that we process applications, allowing us to act more rapidly and complete applications quicker,” said Newton. “We have a centralized repository for what information has been received and what information might be outstanding, and we can quickly share that with students. That allows faster decision making. We can be quicker out of the gate to give prospective students the information that they need. That’s the kind of experience students want these days – they want more of a real-time response on where things stand after they submit that application.”
Since implementing Salesforce, ODU has been able to assign decisions to applicants on average five days faster than it previously could. Additionally, using Salesforce, ODU implemented a process to evaluate applicants based upon self-reported test scores. For those applicants, they are assigning decisions 14 days faster, on average, than traditional applicants.
“There are a lot of different educational institutions out there for students to choose from,” said Newton. “The customer service aspect that we can provide them during their ‘shopping experience’ as they’re looking at schools helps differentiate us. We’ve been able to use Salesforce to process almost 60,000 applications thus far and provide that enhanced experience and faster service to them.”
Supporting First-Year Students at Every Step
Creating an experience more tailored to the students includes taking extra measures to support incoming first-year students as a whole – and first-generation students in particular.
“We realize that first-generation students require additional resources, as they may be unfamiliar with the college selection process,” said Newton. “We adopted a yield coaching model and have really worked to integrate it into the students’ application experience. We find it’s very helpful to our first-generation students and their families.”
Yield coaching – which ODU provides to the majority of its incoming, first-year freshmen – is the practice of sustained engagement from the point of admission through enrollment. ODU staff proactively assists students with financial aid preparation, scholarship opportunities, concerns about moving, academics, living on campus, and other matters.
By using tools from Salesforce to support the university’s commitment to the growth and development of this important population, ODU increased its outreach capacity to these students by 37% as compared to the previous year.
“For us, yield coaching is the way forward for institutions looking to build stronger, more engaged first-year classes,” said Newton. “With the continued support of Salesforce, the number of students benefiting from this valuable service at Old Dominion University will continue to increase.”
Taking advantage of Salesforce’s customizability, ODU even created a financial aid calculator within Salesforce that students can easily access, making it easier for prospective students and their families to understand what type of financial aid package is available and the implications that it might have on them.
“A family going through the financial aid process for the first time might not be as familiar with the process of what makes up a financial aid package, and all the pieces and parts involved,” said Newton. “This lets us really break it down for students, and it’s just another way that we can provide a really custom, tailored experience to the students we’re interested in and that are interested in us.”
Enhancing Events, While Cutting Costs
Using Community Cloud, ODU has been able to reimagine the way it approaches orientation events, ensuring that student information is captured within Salesforce to provide a comprehensive view of the student.
“When students register for orientation events or campus tours, that process is handled online via Salesforce, and information for any attendees is captured and centralized,” said Newton. “Salesforce can even accommodate an integration with our payment processing system, so that it’s an entirely frictionless experience for registrants. I don’t know a lot of other institutions that have integrated their payment system.”
Beyond providing an enhanced experience, leveraging Salesforce for orientation and other events has saved money. ODU previously used an outside vendor to help manage event reservations, and bringing that function in house – where Salesforce has helped process 26,000 reservations for student events – has the potential to save $25,000 per year.
Meanwhile, Marketing Cloud allows ODU to follow up with anyone who has attended an event, sending them emails and custom content tailored to them.
“People might attend a handful of different events and tours over a span of time,” said Newton. “With Salesforce, we can see all the different events that they’ve attended and inquiries they’ve made. The ‘shopping around’ process can take up to 18 months for some students, so Marketing Cloud allows us to stay in touch with them and stay top of mind.”
Overall, ODU feels that it has been able to get a lot of value out of Salesforce in the relatively short time that it has been deployed.
“From an IT perspective, having a CRM that is so powerful but so easy to work with has been a real win-win,” said Kozoyed. “We are easily able to manipulate the Salesforce platform and make changes to it. It’s really a tool that you can completely make your own to meet the needs of different teams. At the same time, that simplicity allows IT to focus on more strategic things, like developing new experiences around financial aid or orientation events.”
Newton concluded: “From the first enquiry about the university, through to actual enrollment, we want to be able to leverage information about prospective students throughout the entire process to add value and create a superior experience. That’s the purpose of having a single CRM system: to have a more cohesive conversation with our prospective students and talk to them like we know who they are – and Salesforce is allowing us to do that.”