The Secret to Fordham University’s “Game-Changing” Salesforce Search

Fordham University
Reading Time: 3 minutes

"When you hear advisors saying they're hearing angels singing, you know you're on the right track."

Katherine Gomez, Fordham University

Key Takeaways:

  • Fordham University’s new education CRM, Salesforce, had everything but optimized search, and it was costing the college both time and money.
  • After a frustrating internal development process, Fordham’s applications team decided to work with Kona Search on a solution.
  • The new platform delivered on all fronts: Advisors have the easy, fast, and powerful search of their dreams, and Fordham can put the resources saved to better work.

With 17,000 students, five campuses, and a 180-year history, Fordham University isn’t just a school; it’s an institution.

Consequently, Fordham’s academic advisors carry a high charge. Responsible for guiding future leaders “in a global society,” the team is foundational to the university’s reputation and continued success.

So, when advisors needed a new education CRM, Fordham took the request seriously — and delivered a platform that exceeded all expectations.

Here’s how they did it.

Challenge

"A lot of higher education institutions are coming up against this same issue.”

Raymond Belanfante, Director of Application Services

The applications team at Fordham had hit a snag. The university had recently moved to Salesforce because it had far more capabilities than its previous education CRM, Navigate, but the new platform wasn’t optimized for search.

This meant that the platform’s primary users, Fordham’s academic advisors, were spending too much of their valuable time behind monitors and too little working with students.

“A lot of higher education institutions are coming up against this same issue,” said Raymond Belanfante, the university’s director of application services.

“One solution was to build out a series of Salesforce reports for the advisors,” Raymond explained, “but we quickly realized that it was a never-ending task.”

“And that report-building,” added Katherine Gomez, assistant director of core applications, “was gobbling up all of our consultant’s time, which really should be spent on higher value tasks.”

Another solution they tried was reporting software, but it also had major problems. The advisors couldn’t use it in the Salesforce ecosystem — creating numerous usability issues — and the tool had a significant learning curve.

The applications team knew what a dream solution would look like, they just didn’t think it existed. “What we wanted was a search solution that’s easy to learn, keeps the experience in Salesforce, and can help advisors find whatever they need no matter where it was,” Raymond explained. “And requirements like that are hard to meet, to say the least.”

Solution

"Facets are a game changer. We can now search and filter on anything."

Katherine Gomez, Assistant Director of Core Applications

Katherine met the Kona team at a Salesforce conference in New York and left the conversation wondering if the flexible and powerful Salesforce search app might just be what they were looking for. While the follow-up meeting with Kona and Raymond only fueled that excitement, the applications team remained cautious.

“We were asking KonaSearch to help us make our Salesforce-driven student hub a one-stop shop, where the advisors can go in and not have to go back out to some other tool,” said Raymond. “It was a tall order, so when the KonaSearch team told us they could do it, we were skeptical.”

“But Kona delivered the POC in a matter of days,” Raymond continued, “and Katherine was wowed.”

The new, Kona-powered education CRM was…

  • Powerful: Kona’s custom filters and facets enabled comprehensive, precise, and tailored search. Advisors could search for one student or all students — or for any documents anywhere on the platform regardless of format. In other words, the search engine could conform to advisors’ needs, not the other way around.
  • Efficient: Kona’s automation capabilities would be a massive time saver for advisors. Advisors could accomplish key tasks (like finding student groups and adding them to actionable campaigns) in just a few clicks. And, because Kona integrates directly into the Salesforce UI, the entire experience was seamless.
  • Easy to use: Perhaps most importantly, Kona is dead simple. While other solutions had significant learning curves, advisors could use all of Kona’s capabilities on day one.

The application team was impressed. Now the question was, “What would the advisors think?”

Results

"We found a true partner in KonaSearch."

Raymond Belanfante, Director of Application Services

Once they got their hands on the new platform, Fordham’s advisors were not shy about sharing feedback. The advisors reported that Kona’s ease of use, custom filters and facets, and automation features were exactly what they were looking for. Searching on the platform had gone from slow and complex to fast and easy, and this improvement directly translated into more advisor time with students.

“When you hear advisors saying they’re hearing angels singing, you know you’re on the right track,” said Katherine, laughing. “And with KonaSearch in place, our consultant was finally freed up to do the more high-touch work that’s of greater value to the university.”

“If we didn’t find them,” said Raymond, “I don’t know what we would have done.”

Kona is the secret to world-class search on Salesforce. Contact our team today to get on the path to a super-charged education CRM.