While some university professors view smartphones as a competitor for students’ attention, the most innovative schools are jumping at the opportunity mobile devices create for a new level of engagement and learning, both inside and outside the classroom. Smartphones, they’ve realized, can be used to make students smarter.
Top Hat has emerged as the favourite bring-your-own-device student engagement solution for higher education, used at three-quarters of North America’s top 1,000 universities and colleges. The company was founded in 2009 by two engineers. Their cloud-based platform makes the learning experience more engaging and more productive, allowing professors to easily deliver interactive content, poll and quiz students during lectures, and motivate students to collaborate through team learning. As CMO Nick Stein explains: "Keeping a room full of students engaged can be difficult at the best of times – especially in the smartphone era. We've developed a platform that turns mobile devices into a teaching aid instead of a distraction."
Top Hat’s cloud-based platform also enables teaching staff to share learning materials, both in class and for home study. More than 80% of students say Top Hat helps them understand course material more effectively and stay more focused during lectures.
Strong metrics are not just a feature of the platform; they're also a core part of Top Hat's culture. "We're a very data-driven organization. We want to ensure our business decisions are based on accurate data not guesswork,” says Stein. “And that means we need complete visibility of our performance, customers, and prospects.”
The professors and students who use Top Hat constantly changes with the start of new courses and semesters. This fact complicates both the buying and renewal process.
“We’re a fast-growing company, and securely tracking of all our contacts was challenging. We needed a more automated and centralized approach that would give us greater visibility of our performance,” says Stein.
With Salesforce, the world's #1 CRM company and Intelligent Customer Success Platform, Top Hat’s leaders can track its entire user base in real time. "Sales Cloud is critical to our success," explains Stein. "Our team of 100 sales reps live and breathe Salesforce every day and log all prospect and customer interactions on the platform."
Sales Cloud is integrated with Top Hat's VOIP system and Service Cloud, which is used for customer support. "Having an integrated solution was fundamental for us. With such a complex business model, we need the whole team to have full visibility of everything that's happening so we can deliver the best customer experience possible," says Stein.
Top Hat’s customer success team uses Service Cloud to provide multi-channel support to teachers inside the classroom. "We want people to make the most of our platform," says Stein. "We're not just selling a product; we trying to improve student engagement and education through digitalization."
Service Cloud also helps to manage subscription renewals, which would be incredibly complex to do manually for such a massive user base. “Salesforce gives us the insight to keep renewals simple and helps us to ensure schools remain Top Hat users going forward,” comments Stein.
With the entire customer journey tracked in Salesforce, Top Hat has visibility into a range of key performance metrics – from lead conversion rates and open support queries to renewal volumes. "Real-time insights help us take our business and our products in the right direction," says Stein. And Top Hat has the growth record to prove it is following the right path.
Named one of Canada's fastest growing companies by Deloitte, Top Hat is doubling in size every year. Thanks to Salesforce, on boarding new members of staff is a quick and easy process. "Salesforce helps us scale our business at speed," says Stein. "We can respond rapidly and proactively to emerging teaching trends as well as customer demand for new products, which gives us a real advantage in the marketplace."
To sustain this advantage, Top Hat will be making greater use of mobile devices and apps in the future. The company is already using the Salesforce1 Mobile App to provide sales teams with access to customer data while attending meetings on campus. “With Salesforce in their pocket, our people are more productive,” says Stein. “We want to keep expanding our capabilities by tapping into the Salesforce App Exchange.”
Top Hat has already achieved considerable growth in a short timeframe. The platform is being used by 7,000-plus professors and millions of students. More and more schools are adopting Top Hat as the standard student engagement software. “By increasing our reach, we can help more teachers deliver more compelling lessons to more students,” says Stein. “The job market is becoming increasingly competitive; students need to maximize their time in education so they can follow the career of their dreams.”