What is a CRM?
CRM stands for Customer/Client Relationship Management. It is a tool that professionals in nearly all organizations or industries use to help manage and keep record of their work and processes. Sales and support professionals typically use a CRM to log interactions that we have with clients so that we know where we left off in our last conversations and to keep a pulse on how things are going.
Unfortunately, this type of tool is not a priority for many residence life departments. If we consider residential students as clients, residence life professionals are there to help with the growth, safety, and development of their residents. And when you have a range of 150 to 13,000 residents that you’re responsible for, doesn’t it make sense to have some kind of software designed to manage the interactions and processes that occur?
Why is it important?
CRMs are universal in almost any and every organization. Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, and small businesses all have some variation of a CRM that’s tailored to their industry and field. Your institution’s alumni relations department likely uses a CRM. So let’s ask this question: Do you have a CRM for your work as a residence life professional?
If you don’t already have a third party software in place, you probably have some form of a “homegrown system”. Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones where university IT created an application specifically for proposing programs or logging weekly reports. But most likely you’re one of the hundreds, if not thousands of ResLife departments using a mixture of form builders, spreadsheets or some paper processes to do 95% of the work you and your student staff do.
This is such a ubiquitous problem that we see across our industry. Is ResLife not important enough to warrant a software that specifically supports the department? Is it really effective to use a tool designed for housing assignments to see if a resident is doing well or not? Why are one-on-one conversations or program evaluation data getting lost in the abyss? How many hours do your staff members spend trying to piece together information when a supervisor asks for a status on a student? How much data do you have to guess for your end of year assessment?
If the rest of the world are at a point where they use software to track and analyze their everyday work, isn’t it time that residence life departments do the same? Something a little bit more advanced and streamlined than a dozen spreadsheets?