The Community College and Customer Relationship Management

Article excerpt

Triton College was founded in 1964 in River Grove, Illinois; Triton College district encompasses 63 square miles in the western suburbs of Chicago and includes approximately 320,000 residents and 25 communities. Triton College is known for its modern, attractive campus; the diversity of its career, university, and transfer and continuing education (non-credit) programs; and the quality of its faculty. The College's low tuition and open admissions policy ensure that postseco ndary education is accessible to more than 18,000 students each semester.

Triton's average class size is 20.5 students; the average age of enrolled students is 30.4 years; the median salary of Triton graduates is $35,000; and more than 88 percent of the College's graduates are employed within a year of graduation. Triton College has a diverse student body: 52 percent white, 27 percent Hispanic, 17 percent African American, and 4 percent Asian Pacific Islander. The College also enrolls a large population of English as a Second Language students, including many native Spanish and Polish speakers.

In 2005, the Enrollment Services division of Triton College restructured the purpose and function of the Admissions Telephone Center. The restructuring was the culmination of six months of process review and analysis of current and future service needs. In addition, conceptual and financial support was garnered through the College's strategic plan process. Recognizing the need to connect our students and community with high-quality personalized services equally on campus and via telephone, we moved forward with the creation and implementation of what now is known as the Admissions Call Center.

The goals of the new unit are to:

* Serve as a centralized hub for campus information and resources;

* Be prepared and willing to direct students to the resources they need;

* Improve communication with prospective and current students;

* Reduce the number of misdirected telephone inquiries;

* Automate the delivery and timeliness of information in response to inquiries; and

* Provide person-to-person registration services

The restructuring of this service unit was all-encompassing. Changes included upgrading staff positions by requiring attainment of at least an associate degree; preferring bilingual staff (Spanish or Polish and English); increasing the number of call center personnel in order to support increased service hours; and creation of a manager position to provide leadership for the new department. The Admissions Call Center would be the focal point of Triton College's effort to improve communications with current and prospective students as well as to collect and process information in a different way.

While talent management was important to the success of the unit and required the greatest amount of time and resources, it soon became apparent that a new technology solution would need to be acquired to facilitate that success. A number of vendors were marketing "Customer Relationship Management" software to support the processing of client information. These turnkey solutions usually focused on the specific aspects of management they were designed to facilitate (e.g., sales, marketing, event management, project management, finance). Most also included a customer component, but none addressed either the unique needs of an educational environment student issues and

In an effort to meet Triton College's unique needs, the Enrollment Services and Programming Services areas partnered to develop a custom solution that now is known as the Communication Management System

Several high-priority goals were identified as the fixations for this system were developed. The system had to be:

* easy to

* able to interface with the college

* web-based;

* expandable

* inclusive of a reporting

The primary function of the cms system is to provide automated support for front-line staff in the Call Center. …