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Personalized experiences: an incentive for the digital transition of universities

Published May 10 2021
Damien Dumas, Digital Advisor (Higher Education)
Damien Dumas
Digital Advisor (Higher Education)
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For many, digital transformation consists of having access to a variety of services through a mobile platform. A modernized and simplified user experience helps facilitate and democratize access to information. This measure also makes it possible to offer personalized services on a timely basis according to the preferences and habits of customers. Therefore, one of the main benefits of digital transformation lies in the personalization of the experience.

To that end, it’s important for educational institutions to gain a better understanding of their student clientele. Presently, that knowledge is limited, to say the least, because universities tend to manage information in very targeted ways, with the emphasis placed on student progress. Additionally, information outside of those parameters is often poorly integrated and quite fragmented.

I am always surprised at the volume of printed information that fills university filing cabinets. Quite often, this information can only be delivered in person, or by entering the content into an Excel file. Without virtual access, this vital information is not being used to its full potential. During the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous universities have found that to be true.

Large digital organizations have long implemented CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools in order to better understand their customers. Those tools allow for better management of communications and customer engagement. Their customer data integration features and analytical capabilities provide greater intelligence for delivering relevant services.

Nowadays, universities use CRMs to manage student recruitment. They also use different solutions to manage external relationships, primarily to keep graduates engaged, to seek donations, and to organize fundraising. However, very few institutions use CRMs to manage interactions and relationships during the academic journey. The data collected would allow university management to better understand the participation of students in co-curricular activities, to identify their interests, and to acquire better overall knowledge of their profiles in order to adapt their pedagogical advice.

Several institutions are still reluctant to digitally store this information for fear of violating confidentiality. However, being born in the digital age, students do not have that same relationship with data sharing. To the contrary, students want their educational institutions to understand them better. They want to facilitate interactions with various departments and to avoid having to repeat themselves. They want to be known and recognized.

Personalization promotes engagement, which in turn promotes academic success. Adopting that approach will allow universities to remain the suppliers of choice for continuing education.

What is your plan for personalizing student experiences?

Every interaction counts. From recruitment to retention and development, all touchpoints contribute to the student experience. Every experience builds or erodes trust; we build that foundation of trust through constituent experiences that are based on principles of human-centered design.