In a nutshell, CRM stands for Customer Relationship Manager, and what this means is it’s a type of software to organize, build, and maintain strong relationships.

At OSU Extension, it’s true we refer to the people in the communities we serve as something other than“customers,” so we will find another way to describe that part. Yet we know the nature of Extension getting work done across Oregon continues to be reliant on relationships. Thus, the ability to efficiently manage the ties by which we relate with individual communities becomes more and more critical.

A sample image of analyzing visits to a web site

The CRM development for Extension will be driven by the goal of strengthening relationships.

So, a big motivator to use a CRM software platform is to allow our organization to act more efficiently with, about, or on behalf of a contact—i.e. a relationship with a constituent or program partner—and in the long term, increase the overall value of that relationship over its lifespan.

Have you ever found yourself wondering “How often did I connect with this person on my region’s programs?” If so, as you begin to open up the CRM and review its reporting tools, you will find that answer!

Adding a set of technology tools that organize and analyze information about activities in your region allows OSU Extension Service to perform work efficiently, having an impact on more people over time without overtaxing existing resources. The eventual aim is to provide improved services to Oregonians by engaging in data-driven decision making, relying on information that shows us what has been relevant and successful in the past.

Salesforce logo

How does Salesforce fit into this conversation?

As far as CRMs go, they happen to have many shapes and sizes. The cloud-based software company, Salesforce, is at the top of this category. In recent years, OSU has made significant investments in Salesforce CRM infrastructure and this investment is growing.

The reasons to have selected Salesforce include the fact it offers many valuable and flexible features. And I am personally excited to begin exploring the benefits it can provide to your own operations.

As Extension’s impact grows, so does the need to manage relationships

As we apply a thoughtful process—informed by conversations that draw upon Extension Service faculty experience and expertise—to roll out CRM features to help you do work, the potential benefits include:

  • 360-degree view of constituents and partners
    Awareness of all the points at which you interact with constituents can help you find and focus on individuals and what they truly need.
  • Enrich the relationships, person by person
    Insights drawn out by a CRM report will pinpoint potential program enhancements to deliver benefits to specific people or communities. That sense of individualized attention, known to be time consuming using current tools, can become a powerful communication method inside the CRM-driven outreach efforts.
  • Enhancing communication
    As you know from experience, learning all we can about people and their distinct needs matters. It makes it easier to add  relevancy to the information they receive from Extension. As new people come your way with perhaps more complex questions, a trove of details inside the CRM means you quickly see more about them in one place, making your response and advice more informed.
  • And many many more!

My name is Mark Kindred, and I am in the newly-established role of Salesforce Developer for OSU Extension Service and the division of Outreach & Engagement. In the coming months, many of you will hear from me as I begin a “needs assessment” phase of a longer-term CRM platform strategy. I look forward to talking with you and ensuring my work is in alignment with the business needs of your unit and the long-term strategy of the university.

The digital engagement strategy team looks forward to talking with you about how CRM is aligned with your work and can provide new benefits to you.

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