Lorne Henne: building relationships through messaging

Rachel Marciano
April 20, 2017

For 25 years, Lorne Henne has helped people across the university connect with each other and the broader DePaul community. As a CRM business analyst for Information Services, Henne coordinates and tracks email communications from groups and departments to faculty, staff, current students and retirees to provide timely and targeted messages that help maintain and build relationships.

"Last academic year, users sent out nearly 4.5 million emails to members of the university community, so we do manage to stay fairly busy," Henne laughs.  

Customer relationship management, or CRM, is a strategy and technology used to manage interactions with constituents with the goal of creating, improving and retaining relationships. Henne and his team work with nearly every office and department at DePaul, from assisting Alumni Relations with bringing graduating students into the alumni community to issuing compliance related communications to helping Human Resources throughout the employee lifecycle: onboarding, communication updates about Healthy Vin-cent$, 403(b)s and other benefits, and the exit survey. Henne's team even provides CRM training to some departments so they can create and send their own mailing campaigns. 

"I'd be hard pressed to find an office that hasn't worked with us in one form or another," Henne says. "We're very fortunate at DePaul to have such an engaged and involved community. Everyone I deal with has developed a strong web of contacts and is deeply committed to providing a high level of service to others. It's those everyday connections fostered by faculty and staff that really make our job easier."

Though Henne is now part of a small team of three in Information Services, he first started his career at DePaul as a manager of Classroom Technologies for University Libraries. In 1991 Henne was tasked with designing and equipping classrooms with technologies to facilitate teaching. As the use of technology grew, Classroom Technologies moved to Information Services and Henne's role shifted to supporting faculty experiencing tech issues. In 2005 he officially became part of the CRM team, which, in addition to managing messages, oversees software for the Technology Service Center, DePaul Central for student issues and a small call center for Advancement.

Through the nature of ever-changing technology, over the years DePaul's use of CRM has grown from simple text messages to more complex html messages, customized for each department or group and their specific audiences. Though the technologies have changed, Henne reiterates the core purpose has never shifted.

"One of my favorite campaigns, as we call them, is a small one, but reinforces the importance of making personal connections," he says. "Every year, International and Student Scholar Services sends a birthday greeting to each of their international students, who typically are isolated from family and friends in a foreign country on their birthday. A few years back, one student responded, telling us how much that simple email meant. Fostering that feeling of connectedness has always been why we do what we do."