Fordham University

Founded in 1841, Fordham is the Jesuit University of New York, offering exceptional education distinguished by the Jesuit tradition to approximately 15,000 students in its four undergraduate colleges and its six graduate and professional schools. It has residential campuses in the Bronx and Manhattan, a campus in Westchester, and the Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station in Armonk, N.Y. as well as programs in the UK and China.

Challenge

Implement a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform that easily integrates with academic and business software and drives a business transformation toward the customer journey.

Solution

Sugar Professional, with cloud and on-premise options; integrated with about 30 other software solutions, including Banner, an Enterprise Resource Planning tool widely used by the education community. Sugar is re-labeled as “Fordham Connect.”

Results

  • 360-degree view of students
  • Improved response time to constituent needs
  • Empowered university users to be proactive in working with constituents
  • Enhanced relationships and increased loyalty among students and alumni.

Creating the User Experience with ‘Constituent’ Care

Shaya Phillips’ business on-boards about 3,800 new customers each year – and most start within the same few days. That’s in addition to serving a base of about 11,000 customers who carryover annually.

The new customers are freshmen and first-year graduate school students at Fordham University, a private New York City Liberal Arts school where competition for admission is fierce, academic excellence is a given, and personal attention is expected.

The challenge for Shaya and his IT team is to make sure these customers have what they need when they need it, and to track their journey through college life and beyond.

Fordham, which also operates graduate schools and a law school, depends on Sugar and its integrations to ensure it has a complete view of its students.

“We call them constituents – our students, parents, alumni and others who interact with us – and we use CRM to manage those constituent relationships,” says Shaya, associate vice president for Information Technology.

Modern CRM Focuses on Customers

By using a modern approach to CRM – one that has evolved beyond sales tracking and marketing and instead focuses on customers – Shaya and his team have put constituent experience at the heart of the university’s efforts.

“We track students throughout the whole system. We recruit them, maintain them, give them the best customer service possible through graduation and keep them informed as alumni,” says Shaya. 

“We build a relationship from beginning to end and establish that relationship not just with the student but with the extended family; a relationship that fosters giving and helps build a reputation as one of the nation’s best universities,” he adds.

Because of some easily written application program interfaces (APIs), Fordham officials can see a complete picture of a student or graduate without leaving the Sugar platform: transcripts, completed courses, required courses, academic standing, advisor notes, expected graduation date – even passport status.

“A lot of what we learn and collect with Sugar helps us to target students at different stages in their education.  We can see what courses they take, when did they pay, if they are at risk: actionable information that helps us serve our constituents,” Shaya says.

“Sugar has made a great different in the ways our users work with our constituents,” he says. “It has empowered our users in ways we never thought about because we can make constituent lives better and easier with the way they interact with the university.”

CRM as the Information Hub

Choosing an easily customised CRM that was hefty enough to handle all those integrations was a factor in Fordham’s decision to implement Sugar. About 80 percent of the software is cloud-based.

Says Shaya: “We liked the fact that Sugar was modular in a way that we could interact with it for our integrations. We had a lot of information from different systems that we wanted to bring into it, and it was customisable for the way we wanted to use it.”

With more than 15 integrations and about 30 APIs helping paint the Sugar customer image, administrators and staff are empowered to help students and alumni because they have a 360-degree view of each constituent.

Fordham uses two types of API calls (APIs that can be called on demand and APIs that allow you to make a call and retrieve a batch of data).

Because Sugar’s dashboards are easily configured and convenient, financial aid officers, administrators or professors have immediate insight about a constituent’s status. It’s a customer journey view at the click of a mouse.

“In Sugar, our people can easily see the current grade-point-average, the course schedule and the grades associated with each course,” Shaya says. “If we had to just use our Enterprise Resource Planning system, the administrator would have to go to different screens to view a full student picture.” 

About Fordham University

Customers: 15,200 students in undergraduate and graduate schools

Location: New York City

Website: www.fordham.edu