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How Scentia Saves 10/hrs a Week with Client Onboarding Automation

May 19, 2021 | 5 minutes

Education doesn’t end after you walk out of the premises wearing a mortarboard. The learning path continues when you enter the workforce, or when you take the plunge to start your own company.

Several years into your career, you might get an itch to resume your formal education and challenge yourself academically.

A doctorate is still in demand in many fields and professions. It shows prestige and can act as a career catalyst.

Finding a suitable program is the first hurdle to overcome. Many programs require students to attend compulsory lectures. This can be a challenge for people with family lives and full-time jobs.

In addition, Ph.D. programs are notoriously hard to get into. It’s not uncommon that hundreds of applicants hunt down a mere dozen of available spots.

Knowing the stakes, candidates who are serious about pursuing a doctorate need to go above and beyond.

To achieve this, nothing trumps meeting the minimum requirements and building an iron-strong application that increases the chances of making it to the select group.

This is where Hamburg-based company Scentia bridges the gap.

About Scentia

Scentia helps working professionals who want to advance their career through a doctorate find a suitable partner university for their Ph.D.

Clients get support throughout the process of writing and publishing their dissertation, from brainstorming the topic to the academic defense stage.

Furthermore, Scentia takes all the administrative matters of the procedure off their hands, so students can fully focus on their doctorate.

In this case study, we will explore how automation agency Makeitfuture helped Scentia streamline and improve the processes that sustain their business.

The bottleneck

Scentia’s lengthiest business process is applying clients and matching them with suitable European universities for which they meet the Ph.D. requirements.

The full process is composed of several tasks and stages, including:

  • Close communication with the applicant

  • The collection of a large number of documents during the contact and application process (such as birth certificates, degree certificates, academic transcripts, references, and letters of recommendation)

This customer onboarding process from first contact to the candidate’s acceptance to a Ph.D. program can take many weeks, if not months.

Before automation

Scentia’s pre-automation process was made up of three key components:

  • The contact form on the company’s WordPress website

  • Pipedrive as the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system

  • And all email communication occurring over Office365

Each time a lead contacted Scentia via the contact form, an email was sent to an Outlook mailbox. Then, a Scentia employee added this person as a new lead in Pipedrive, and replied to the email accordingly.

When a lead showed serious interest in Scentia’s services, any new information and status updates had to be manually transferred into Pipedrive by the Scentia employee. Each time, clients had to be asked to send in their documents.

When leads or customers sent their documents to Scentia, Scentia staff had to verify each document manually, and then upload it to Pipedrive. If the documents were suitable for a doctorate, they were bundled, prepared, and sent to Scentia’s European partner universities.

While this process might sound simple enough, it was riddled with inefficiencies. The two main issues were:

  • Lost time: Manually updating customer data in Pipedrive took a lot of time. Each time Scentia received a new email from a customer, it was necessary to change or check their status or data in Pipedrive.

  • Real-time availability of client data: Different Scentia employees can contact customers. That means the data in Pipedrive must always be kept up-to-date.

Failing to update a customer’s data could lead to information redundancies, or worse - missing on an important document. These mistakes could easily translate into losing a frustrated customer after the initial contact.

In short, all customer communication and the collection of the necessary documents were done by hand.

This constant back-and-forth took up a lot of time, and made the process error-prone.

It was clear that standardized processes were needed to collect all necessary documents and send them to universities.

How Makeitfuture future-proofed the customer onboarding flow with Make

To solve the lingering problems in their processes, Scentia turned to Makeitfuture, Germany’s first automation agency.

The goal was to create an end-to-end, automated workflow. For that to happen, Scentia needed to rely on the cloud-based apps they use on a daily basis, with Make acting as the integration solution.

Let’s see how they pulled this off.

1. Routing form entries

The first step was catching contact form entries on Scentia’s WordPress website.

To give you a vivid example of how this can be done: Make has a “Watch New Form Submissions” module for Contact Form 7 that is triggered each time a new form is submitted.

Afterward, the submitted form entry data can be sent to any app via Make.

In Scentia’s case, a new form submission triggers the following actions:

  • Send an email to the employee responsible for following up with the lead

  • Send a webhook that stores the customer’s information in an Airtable database

Since Scentia’s ongoing contact with leads and customers is handled via email, Outlook was also integrated into the automated workflow.

After the initial contact, contacts receive further follow-ups and valuable information at the right, predetermined times.

2. Automated lead tagging

Scentia’s current CRM tool, Pipedrive, was also integrated into the automation workflow. Clients would get assigned different customer statuses within Pipedrive.

This makes it easy to track each candidate, as well as the steps that need to be taken. It also ensures that no contact is left behind.

After automation

When thinking about processes, it’s important to remember the following: Even if a lengthy process is tolerated as the status quo, it can still represent a huge turnoff for customers.

Too much of a hassle can scare a customer away, even when there is a genuine interest in your services.

Customer onboarding, quality management, customer journeys - they’re all part of a close, successful customer relationship. Forward-looking methods are needed to achieve a competitive advantage.

By automating customer onboarding, leads can be more easily identified and attended to. The solution for Scentia and many other companies that have comprehensive onboarding processes is automation.

It’s about efficiency, but also to create unique customer journeys and personalized onboarding experiences without increasing administrative expenses.

Onboarding automation: The results

After automating the onboarding process, Scentia is reaping the benefits.

Customer outreach has since increased, and the company managed to shave around 10 hours off its workload each week. 

The time saved is invested back into optimized customer consultations, and also in testing new customer outreach methods. Both of these are positively affecting company growth.

Furthermore, Make’s “modular” structure allows apps to be added or removed to workflows at any time, without needing to adjust the entire process.

This opens up possibilities for further automation and individual adaptation to existing processes.

Scentia was already using apps such as Pipedrive and Outlook. Integrating these into the automated workflows ensured a seamless transition to automation. It wasn’t necessary to onboard a whole new tech stack, or even to roll out training programs for the team.

As a result, neither party feels pushed down by administrative hassles. Errors were minimized, as data is passed between systems automatically.

Most importantly, Scentia employees can now focus on guiding customers through the hurdles of getting their Ph.D. rather than on paperwork.

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Gracia Kleijnen

Freelance Content Writer at Make. Automation advocate, copywriter, blogger. Hobby filmmaker who loves slow travel and learning about productivity, psychology and marketing.

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