Relationship Management: So Long, and Thanks for All the Hamsters

The final meeting for the JISC Relationship Management Programme was held in the beautiful surroundings of York St John University a couple of weeks ago. Simon Whittemore, JISC Programme Manager, has written an excellent summary of the event – The Pleasures and Pains of Managing Relationships and Changing the Habits of Information Hamsters – and as it’s such a good overview, I’ll try not to repeat anything here.

From a personal point of view, it was lovely to finally meet all the project teams and in some respects it’s a shame that it’s all coming to an end, as I’ve really enjoyed chatting to everyone and following project progress over the past 10 months or so. Because there were 20 projects in the Programme, it was decided to put them into groups, so they could each create a collaborative presentation for the final meeting. I know all the project teams have worked really hard and I must confess to feeling a bit like the producer of play on its opening night, who just wants all the efforts of that hard work to shine through.

Notes and presentations from the York meeting are now available, and I have tried to summarise some of the key issues for the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and SLRM (Student Lifecycle Relationship Management) strands of the Programme.

The three key issues I see for CRM are:
* Buy-in from senior management is essential to ensure that the CRM approach is successful.
* Cultural change is inevitable but is challenging to manage.
* Data (around contacts and the customer relationship) must be shared, yet this is often a stumbling block. For example, some people are very happy to view other’s data, but not share their own (information hamsters?).

For SLRM, the issues are slightly different:
* The student must be put at the centre of the process.
* What the student wants is not necessarily what the institution thinks the student wants.
* Service design techniques can help to identify failpoints in the student experience and areas for improvement.

There is some work to do now on synthesising the findings across the Programme, but it’s been such a pleasure to work with everyone, that I will miss following their progress. So good luck – I wish you all every success with continuing your CRM or SLRM approaches in your institution.