Through Cloud for Good’s services, Western Michigan University (WMU) has successfully implemented Salesforce Student Success Hub to support the institution’s advising activities and improve retention goals. This implementation serves as the second phase of a larger Connected Campus project seeking to unite students, staff, and faculty across fields of study through technology.
Phase one of this project saw Cloud for Good successfully implementing Service Cloud, Experience Cloud, and Education Data Architecture to upgrade the institution’s GoWMU Portal through enhanced student service capabilities and enriched case management. With the new GoWMU Portal creating direct positive change in institutional efforts and student success, Cloud for Good began the initialization of phase two to grow and scale the Salesforce technology even further.
“The overarching goal of phase two was to leverage Student Success Hub as a way to better track, engage, and communicate with our students,” said Dr. Edwin Martini, Vice Provost for Teaching & Learning at WMU and Dean of Merze Tate College. “It was also important for us to streamline processes for staff and reduce the number of screens they interact with on a daily basis.”
How WMU Leverages Student Success Hub
Student Success Hub is a premier Salesforce product helping to deliver holistic and equitable student support through engagement, collaboration, and connection. For students, information located in the WMU hub includes scheduling software to book appointments with career advisers and staff experts from financial aid, fitness and wellness, multicultural affairs, and student engagement. Advising notes from success team members are also included, as are personalized success plans, follow-up information from appointments, and live chat functionality connecting students with academic advisers or student success navigators during the day and a chatbot after hours.
For WMU staff, the hub allows for greater collaboration between departments and creates access to shared data instantaneously. It also builds capacity for service with students, as it reduces redundancies in interactions and helps students before they even get to a higher education professional.
Making An Immediate Impact
In just a few short months following Student Success Hub’s go live in early 2023, WMU has sent out over 15K alerts, which notify students about missing application requirements, class registration reminders, and tuition payment deadlines, among many other types of alerts. To track these many alerts, as well as other key performance indicators, Cloud for Good has configured reports and dashboards that make data clearly visible and actionable.
“I love being able to come in every morning, open up my dashboards, and put my finger on the pulse of our operations,” Martini confides. “It’s certainly made my life easier, and I know it’s done the same for our staff.”
Students have also intuitively booked over 4K advising appointments through Student Success Hub since its initial launch, and a new “Thriving Survey” has been designed to check in on students to ensure they receive the right support to facilitate their success. One recent version of this survey focused on juniors and seniors to make sure those students reaching the end of their time at the university have everything they need in order to graduate on time.
“I’ve been working on trying to get us an early alert system for over 10 years,” said Martini. “Now we have a customized system with centralized data that’s already starting to pay dividends on the retention front. We’ve built a really strong foundation.”
One of the main key metrics driving WMU’s Student Success Hub implementation was focused on improving both undergraduate and graduate student retention. More specifically, how to improve two-year retention, and four- and six-year graduation rates, while reducing equity gaps, through improved advising capabilities.
Since Student Success Hub’s launch, WMU’s FTIAC (first time in any college) retention rate has increased by 5% over the previous year. Additionally, every class from freshman to senior is experiencing a retention increase, and every demographic group is also up, including six points for Black students, six points for Hispanic students, and 10 points for students who identify as two or more races.
Creating Empowered Experience
The seamless nature of Student Success Hub’s functionality and interactivity has had a profound effect on student empowerment, while also greatly benefiting the working lives of university staff.
“Our academic advisors used to navigate between three or four different applications, all with separate logins, now it’s a one-stop shop,” explained Martini. “Having everything in one place has been absolutely fantastic for our staff.”
Prior to Student Success Hub, administrators would have to ask staff for massive amounts of data that then had to be manually reported and compiled for presentation. WMU utilized seven separate scheduling systems for each of the seven academic advising offices on campus during this time. What used to take days of pulling data, reporting data, and then sending that data across offices has now been consolidated into one, solitary system through the Salesforce Student Success Hub.
“There’s a lot of minutiae in reporting, tasks that eat up your whole day. Now that has been completely streamlined, allowing staff to do what they do best: help our students succeed,” said Martini.
Helping Staff Help Students
One particular facet of Student Success Hub’s functionality, Cloud for Good’s proprietary custom advising notes accelerator, has proven to be a major difference maker for the health and well-being of shared data across campus. These highly customizable advising notes include data visibility rules for which individuals and departments on campus are able to view and interact with student notes. This translates to better control of sensitive student information (like that related to the institution’s health center or HIPAA protocols, for example), ensuring that only the most necessary staff members can view such information.
One of the most impactful benefits of a single, shared database of advising notes has been the elimination of what Martini described as the “Bronco Bounce,” named in reference to the university’s mascot.
“The Bronco Bounce would happen when a student was trying to get help with something over the phone or through chat. They’d talk to one person at one department, then get bounced to another person at another department, then to another, then back to the first person, etc., all the while having to retell their story or the problem they’re trying to fix to each person along the way.”
Through the custom advising notes in Student Success Hub, staff has access to a unified data system recording each instance of communication between students and staff, regardless of each respective staff member’s department. This allows WMU to be more responsive to students while also empowering staff as they juggle multiple cases, effectively eliminating the Bronco Bounce for good.
With plans to launch a new mobile app in the near future that will allow students to connect with the Success Hub from anywhere, at any time, it’s clear WMU will continue to blaze new trails through technology that make it easier for Broncos to excel and prosper.
Looking back on the considerable success achieved through multiple phases of Salesforce implementation, Martini reflected that he was “most proud of the fact that we’ve been able to build this expansive and powerful system with the help of Cloud for Good. We really developed a great working relationship and we’ve learned so much. We continue to be very grateful for our partnership with Cloud for Good.”
To learn more about Western Michigan University, visit wmich.edu.