5 Reasons to Take Your School's Admissions Process DigitalFebruary 9, 2021
A note from Digistorm: This post was originally published in July 2019. We've updated it to include more recent information and resources.
As a result of the unforgettable events of 2020, we are now a society who live the majority of our lives online. From ordering food, paying our bills and even keeping up with our friends, the majority of our daily tasks can now be performed from any location using a mobile device. We expect all of our transactions and enquiries to be simple, intuitive and user-friendly — leaving companies who don't offer the best user experiences in the dust of their competitors.
Your school's enrollment process is no different.
If you find yourself still requiring families to complete their admissions information on paper, the unfortunate reality is, you are likely losing out on a large number of prospective enrollments. Not convinced? In this post, we're going to dive into our top five reasons why you need to take your school's enrollment process digital. That's right — a digital admissions form is no longer a 'nice-to-have', it's a must. Let's dive in.
1. You'll improve your customer experience
Have you noticed that prospective families seem really excited about your school up until the point where they need to enroll? Suddenly, they appear to drop off the face of the earth. We’ll let you in on a little secret: it all comes down to the customer experience you're providing. Customer experience, or CX, is the process of optimizing every touchpoint that a consumer will have with your brand to make it the best possible experience.
If you want to stop prospective families slipping through the cracks, you'll need to focus on removing any barriers that might be getting in the way — such as clunky, time-consuming enrollment processes.
Start by examining what your school's current process looks like. What are the steps involved? Are parents required to download PDF documents, handwrite information, and manually scan it back to you? Those are a lot of steps, considering that your goal should be to reduce the effort it takes to enroll, not increase it.
The enrollments process has changed, and schools need to change their thinking in response.
To find out more, read our post: Changing the Way Schools Think About Enrollments
Instead, a great CX offers parents an option to complete their whole enrollment digitally, using a mobile-responsive form. This means they can complete the form on-the-go at a time and place that suits them. Bonus points if they can save the parts of the form that they've already completed and come back to it at a later time!
2. You can streamline your manual processes
Did you know that 40 per cent of workers say at least a quarter of their workweek is taken up by repetitive tasks? Let’s take a moment to think about this in the context of your school — what manual tasks are taking up your valuable time and resources? If we were to take a guess, we'd say data entry and manual follow-up would be on the list.
Does your current enrollment process leave you drowning in a sea of spreadsheets? Having to keep track of new enrollments through manual data entry not only time-consuming, but it also leaves you vulnerable to missing important information and losing leads as a result. By moving your admissions online, you can automate this process and reclaim hours of your back, leaving time for more high-value and personal tasks, such as calling a prospective student's family or working on your email copy.
Some enrollment management solutions, such as Digistorm Funnel, now offer automation functionality. If you haven't heard of automations before, they are a tool whereby you can set up a workflow that will automatically perform a number of repetitive processes, based on user actions that you define. Some examples of common automations include:
- Notifying key team members when a lead progresses in your enrollment pipeline
- Checking in with leads that have stopped interacting with your school
- Sending a 'happy birthday' email to a prospective student.
3. You'll improve your data integrity
Your database is your ‘golden ticket’ to capturing, nurturing and engaging prospective and current parents, so it’s essential to ensure that your data is accurate. As fallible humans, it's a given that collecting and entering enrollment data from a handwritten PDF document into a spreadsheet isn't always going to end in 100 per cent accuracy. Unfortunately, when it comes to your school’s data, mistakes can wreak havoc on your bottom line.
Want to get the most out of your school database?
Make sure your read our post, Working Your Database to Leverage Enrollments
'Dirty' or inaccurate data can prevent you from finding the information that you need quickly, and it can also affect your reports, meaning your team will be forced to make decisions based on incorrect information.
Using a digital enrollments system allows you to use data validation to ensure your records are as clean as possible. Data validation means that parents won’t be able to submit their enrollment application if they haven’t completed all of the required fields accurately. This means no more incorrect email addresses, no more invalid phone numbers and no more chasing up missing information. Sounds pretty great, right?
4. You'll have a holistic view of your applications
Receiving some applications in person, some through mail and some by email means that your school doesn’t have a thorough understanding of your enrollment pipeline (at least, not until all of the data is entered into your school system). Having an online admissions system means that you can view your leads at every stage, all in one place.
The key to converting your admissions leads is a deep understanding of the journey prospective families take to get there. This is what's known as the customer journey and usually involves three fairly broad stages: awareness, consideration and decision. Once you have fully mapped out your journey to enrollment, you can then assess whether your marketing and admissions efforts are contributing to nudging families along the path to enrollment.
5. You'll reduce your environmental impact
Finally, moving from a paper-based system to digital will have an undeniable impact on your school's environmental footprint. You'll remove the need to print paper forms, both on your end and on your prospective parent's end (and let's face it — the number of individuals who actually have a printer in their home is dwindling!). A recent report by the Sustainable Development Commission on carbon footprints for schools shows that the emission of greenhouse gases from schools stands at 9.4 metric tonnes per year. With a few small changes (including being smart with paper resources!) the Commission estimates that schools can significantly reduce their carbon footprints.
In addition to the environmental impacts, having your enrollment data stored safely and securely online, rather than in print form, is one big way that schools can improve data security. It also reduces the need to purchase more and more filing cabinets to effectively store all of your records. Win, win, win!
Wrapping it all up
In short, if you want to ensure that prospective parents aren’t slipping through the cracks during the enrollment process, creating a great customer experience is key. If you’d like to learn more about how you can streamline some of your clunky administrative tasks, get in touch with one of our friendly Digistorm team members and ask us about Digistorm Funnel — our innovative enrollments portal that is custom-built to suit your school requirements.
Want more resources about improving your enrollments process? Check out these posts: