A few weeks ago a colleague casually mentioned that he thinks of alumni relations "as a form of customer relationship management," also called CRM. At first I agreed, but later I felt less certain – and realized that I don't know enough about CRM to argue one way or the other. That same day I repeated my colleague's comment on Twitter and asked what others thought.
I received responses from several @alumnifutures Twitter followers. Some of them agreed with the idea, while others rejected it. It was also clear that people are using slightly different definitions of CRM.
Here's sampling of reactions from each side:
Some who agreed (or seemed to):
"The alumni relations business needs to spend more effort on data management. Track everything and (important) use it."
This person continued with a follow up tweet:
"'CRM thinking'" adds structure to data capture so that institutional knowledge outlasts the office inhabitants."
"Read Ultimate Question 2.0 by @rgmarkey for a great answer to why we need to treat alums as customers."
"It's very much like (if not exactly) CRM."
"AR is very similar to CRM. Deeper, though: Client/Rep, not Customer/Sales (ongoing, not one-time relationship)."
Some who disagreed:
"Not sure I like the comparison. Relationships, sure, but CRM feels so...automated, not personal."
"Disagree...you can't reduce the alumni to experience to a transactional one (which is a customer experience)."
"That would be like saying Apple should stay in touch with everyone who's ever owned a Mac..."
What do you think are the differences or similarities between alumni relations and CRM – customer relationship management?
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