Have you finally gotten users to start creating contacts in CRM only to find out that they are often forgetting to associate them with an account? For B2B organizations, this can become a significant data quality issue. Most B2B organizations are business centered rather than contact centered. What this means is that users tend to use the account entity in CRM to search for information. So if a contact is not associated with an account, then users are not nearly as likely to find it. This problem is exacerbated by Outlook integration features, such as the ability create a new contact directly from an email address. In this blog, I’ll offer a couple of practical solutions to aid you with creating higher quality data by ensuring that the Parent Customer field is always populated on contact forms.
The first tip seems fairly self-evident, but it is worth pointing out in case you missed it. If you are a B2B firm, then you should consider making the Parent Customer field required on the contact form. This enforces requiring that the user populate this form before they can save the record. This is the first, easiest, and most important step you can take towards ensuring that you always have a value in the field. Unfortunately, however, this step alone is not enough to guarantee that the field is always populated. If a contact is created by clicking the “Create as contact” option from an Outlook email, it is possible for the user to exit the record without saving it (thus avoiding the requirement of filling in the Parent Customer field). Data imports and other functions can also result in creating orphan contacts. So what is a CRM administrator to do?
CRM to the rescue! It’s pretty easy to create a workflow to remind users that a contact needs to have a parent customer assigned. If you’d like a copy of a CRM solution with the workflow, please just ping me on the contact us page of our website and I’ll email this to you. For those of you who are do-it-yourselfers, here are the steps to take:
That’s really all there is to it. Just remember to have a little bit of fun with the text of the email alert. Tell your users that “CRM is very happy that you created a contact” or other funny comments that will help them remember to enter data correctly the first time (these funny comments have the added benefit of really annoying those users who require constant reminders!)
One thing to bear in mind, no matter how you get users to remember to "parent" their new contacts, is that nothing gets mapped down from the parent account to the contact unless it is created in the Account context in the first place.So you either want a workflow triggered on [re-]parent which will check if the Contact has, say, an address, and fetches it from the Account if not, or give the user tools to do this interactively through dialogs, or using something like the Attribute Mapping tool available from Codeplex:
(NB: This is not my solution, I'm just sharing for those who may find it useful)
Great point Adam. Thanks for the comment and for the link to the codeplex project.
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