5 Tips to Help Your CRM Work to Its Full Potential

Posted: March 27, 2023

Joy George Proofreader

Spring has officially sprung, and you may be filled with that sense of dread about too many things that need doing. We get it. Adding CRM maintenance to your mile-long to-do list is the last thing you want to do. But there’s no better time to start cleaning than in the spring, right? And with us here to help you, we’ll have your CRM sparkling and functioning properly before you know it. And using our advice below will help you from feeling overwhelmed with this potentially huge project.

Note: The tips we’re offering here are specific to Technolutions’ Slate, but they are translatable to whatever CRM you’re using. And, we’ve got some free resources to help you out at the end of this blog post!

These five strategies are where we suggest you start to “spring clean” your CRM. Read through and implement them all, or choose the one you need to focus on the most and start there!

  1. Consolidate records
  2. Check naming conventions and folder structures you defined during implementation
  3. Assess user permissions, realms, and populations
  4. Monitor automation/rule health
  5. Build retention policies

So, without further ado, let’s jump right in!

1. Consolidate records

We’re all guilty of letting records in our CRM get a little (or maybe a lot) out of hand. In all honesty, it can get a little embarrassing. Before you know it, you’re sending varying streams of communication at the same time that have conflicting messages. Imagine a prospective student being denied admission, but due to a duplicate record with an incomplete application, they are still being encouraged to apply.

Not to mention, interactions, phone calls, and emails can be stored on duplicate records for the same student, leading to incorrect tracking data which can cause its own issues.

It’s also important to check and consolidate records after major list uploads to ensure you have them all cleaned up before the next drip communication begins to run on imported records.

Tips:

  • Split large import lists into smaller lists to save time.
  • Edit source format to clear up historically bad data.
  • Consolidate frequently, if not daily, to assist in managing your workload. Remember, once you’re all up to date, daily management of this should not be a time-consuming task.
  • Check queries frequently to search for bad or missing data such as first, last, birthday, or email, which are all elements Slate uses to flag potential duplicates.
  • Add additional data elements to your Consolidate Records windows to help you compare student data and determine which should be kept as the correct info. **Link to this**
Adding a custom dashboard to your Consolidate Records window can help you quickly compare information to determine which record should be kept as the main record.

2. Check naming conventions and folder structures you defined during implementation

Now’s the time to go and check to ensure that the naming conventions are accurate, working for you, and are still being used correctly. But, don’t worry! If you didn’t establish naming conventions and folder structures during implementation, now is a great time to get started. 

We recommend a strong organizational system within your CRM, especially for reporting and querying purposes.

For example: If you build a report on mailing statistics, and filter the report by folder structure (as in, you’re asking for all of the mailings within that folder), then, if you add any messages to this folder in the future, this report will automatically include them.

With a strong naming convention, fewer updates are required for regular additions and maintenance.

Tips:

  • Use consistent and clear naming conventions to lead to a system that’s easier to navigate, letting you find what you need faster.
  • Notice how all messages are in a specific folder for that campaign and contain a common naming convention in the example above, making them easy to understand at a glance:
    • Campaign name, email number, and a general description of each message.
An example of a well-named and foldered drip campaign in Deliver.

3. Assess user permissions, realms, and populations

Assessing user permissions, realms, and populations is something you should do at least once a year – but more frequently if possible. This ensures that all active users are still currently at the institution, that their role hasn’t changed, and that they need the level of access they have. Any users who no longer need access should be deactivated. 

Once you’ve identified those who should still remain active, it’s time to look at their current permissions and roles to make sure each user has access to what they need (and doesn’t have access to information they shouldn’t have). To do this you’ll want to look at permissions, populations, and realms.

Permissions are the broadest level of access. They allow access to everything within the permission granted to them. So if someone is given general “query” permission, they have access to all of the queries in the system.

Tip: Create “Roles” to which you attribute a set of permissions. For example:

  • Counselor role = access only to queries, deliver.
  • Administration or VP role = only see reports.

Populations are often thought of when working with communications, but they can also be used to limit access of information to certain populations. For example:

  • Use your graduate population to limit access for graduate recruiters; if you set this, they can only see the graduate records that fall into that population.

Realms are typically used to restrict access to events, forms, queries, campaigns, etc. They allow you to apply locks or permissions around particular objects. For example, if you have staff from an external office that deals with housing or orientation, you can set realm permissions for them to only see events or other objects that are relevant to them. That way, orientation staff, for example, won’t have to scroll through all of the campus tours and admissions presentations just to find the orientation event. Similarly, they will only be able to edit events assigned to them, so student services staff won’t be able to make changes to admissions-specific events and vice versa.

Tip: Automate this process:

  • Create a system Deliver message that automatically sends to security admin by using a query to identify users who have not logged in for 30, 60, or 90 days. We’ve made this for you and will share it in the Suitcase section below.
Staff Notification Email: Users that haven’t logged in in the past six months.

4. Monitor automation/rule health

It’s important to check the rules you set up in your CRM to ensure they are set up as efficiently as possible. Since Slate runs records through rules at 100,000 records at time, multiple passes may be needed. “Check Rules” can preview all rules running in real time. It can tell you:

  • How long it takes each rule to run.
  • If any are running slower than they should.
  • If any have errors that are causing them to not run.

This is especially important because sometimes when a rule is broken, it can cause the entire system to slow down or cease functioning. Another way to monitor rule health is to filter the timing of rules to see if that is affecting another part of a task you have implemented.

Tips:

  • Complicated rules (or statements or subqueries within one rule) are not the most efficient way to build rules.
  • Consider breaking up each component into separate rules within the same exclusivity group. This helps rules run more efficiently because each component takes less time and limits the ability of your system to slow down.
Use “Rules Health” to visualize the performance of all of your automation.

5. Build retention policies

It’s important to stay consistent with legal requirements, deleting records after expiration dates based on regulations. It’s also best practice to remove documents from your CRM once ownership of that information has transferred to another department within the school.

Retention policies can be used to fix incorrect data or to delete test records from your system. Retention policies are built in groups that can contain multiple policies under a single umbrella. When the Retention group is executed, all of the policies will be run in order. This is helpful because retention policies can be picky about the order in which you delete objects. For example, the system won’t let you delete a person record that has an active application. Therefore, you have to have a policy for deleting applications that runs before the policy to delete person records.

An example of a well-built retention policy.

So what now?

We’ve created CRM Quality Assurance and Maintenance Toolkit to give you a place to start. Remember that regular maintenance is more manageable than trying to clean up your CRM once a year and getting completely overwhelmed. Also, remember that not all of these items need to fall on your shoulders. They can be assigned to people in your department. Here are our recommendations:

Daily

  • Clear consolidate records.
  • Run quality assurance queries and look for missing names, missing term code, incorrect staff assignments, and incorrect person/application status.

Weekly

  • Check on imports for data-matching accuracy.
  • Check on exports to ensure they’re running as expected.
  • Review the past week’s events to ensure they are concluded after dates have passed.

Monthly

  • Run rule health.
  • Compare data between CRM and SIS to ensure matching biographical data, address/contact info, application information, and decision codes.

Cycle prep

  • Start planning early.
  • Make a spreadsheet with tasks and checklists.
  • Set a timetable so you aren’t doing everything at once.
  • Divide and conquer between staff.

We hope this post on “spring cleaning” your CRM will give you the guidance you need to take a huge step in making your life, and the lives of your admissions team just a little bit easier.

Work With Us

Taking the time to understand your CRM and making it work for you is, well, time-consuming. If you don’t have the time or if you just need a bit of extra help making it all work for you, we can help! Email info@visionpointmarketing.com or fill out the form below to start a conversation about how VisionPoint’s CRM services can help you succeed in meeting your enrollment goals.

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