In Timeline, add external contacts who don't exist as Contacts

  • 7
  • Idea
  • Updated 3 months ago
  • Under Consideration
Our CSMs can never be quite sure when someone's going to end up on a customer phone call who they've never spoken with before. If that person doesn't exist as a Contact on the Account, they'd like to still be able to save the name in the External Contacts field. The process of adding a contact is far too bothersome to do on the fly.

Consider tagging people in a picture on Facebook, where it autocompletes with the names of people you know, but, if you type something that doesn't match any of your friends, you can still hit 'enter' and that tag will remain in the photo.

I would be wary of having a separate plaintext field for people-who-are-not-Contacts, since some CSMs may not bother with the search functionality, and just jot down names in that field, and then we would have lost structured data that we should have. It would be best to have one field that does live search, but also accepts text as-is.
Photo of Seth

Seth, Employee

  • 14,480 Points 10k badge 2x thumb

Posted 12 months ago

  • 7
Photo of Marcelo

Marcelo, Champion

  • 3,412 Points 3k badge 2x thumb
This is a very good use case. It would be cool if when contact is not found it pops up a window where you could actually create the contact on the fly.
Photo of Lauren Tallerico

Lauren Tallerico

  • 250 Points 250 badge 2x thumb
Agreed - would be a great to automatically add a contact from within Timeline like you can in the regular contacts section. 
Photo of Seth

Seth, Employee

  • 14,470 Points 10k badge 2x thumb
Or maybe that functionality pops up when you Log the activity? That way, you may know more at that point about their title, role, etc.
Photo of Dan Ahrens

Dan Ahrens, Official Rep

  • 24,802 Points 20k badge 2x thumb
Hi Seth, as an end user of Timeline myself, I share your pain around new contacts. :)

I'll give you my personal workflow that addresses both convenience and contact hygiene for me. If I have a call with someone that is not in our SFDC contact database, I definitely agree that adding them on the fly is a bad idea - my focus needs to stay on the call.

What I do in that case is I'll note at the top of the plain text notes field "NEW CONTACT:" and then verify spelling of their first and last name as well as their email. Our SFDC org allows those as the bare minimum. After the call concludes, I pop open the contact list for that account and add the contact using the information I jotted down. 

This is important as arguably the #1 failure of CRM systems is bad accuracy on contacts or missing contacts. This step makes sure I do it before I can add them as an external contact to the timeline activity. 

Finally, since Timeline pulls data in real time, I don't need to refresh the page or browser after I've added the contact in SFDC. Just start typing their name in the external contacts pane and it now appears. :)
Photo of Seth

Seth, Employee

  • 14,470 Points 10k badge 2x thumb
Thanks, Dan! This is more of an edge-case for us, since all users of our product are automatically pushed into Contacts, so I think it'd be unlikely for our CSMs to build the muscle-memory on a specific workflow. I did point out to them the crux of your trick, though -- that the field is a live-search, which works stupendously with multiple browser tabs.
Photo of Angela Domenichelli

Angela Domenichelli

  • 1,402 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
This would not work for us, unfortunately.  We need to add free-text contacts to Timeline Activities as our non-clients should never be added as Salesforce contacts.
Photo of Dan Ahrens

Dan Ahrens, Official Rep

  • 24,802 Points 20k badge 2x thumb
Hi Angela, we love that you are planning on using Gainsight as your Customer Success CRM system!

Can you explain a bit more about your business logic that determines when a contact should be added to the SFDC CRM system vs the Gainsight CRM system?
Photo of Angela Domenichelli

Angela Domenichelli

  • 1,402 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
Thanks, Dan.  One example is when our CSMs need to track non-athenaNet users who are not in Salesforce at all and never should be.  These might include an insurance company representative that might join client meetings to help resolve issues with claim submissions.  It will be important to note that person attended the meetings and be able to filter for meeting when this person attended, but we would never add this person to Salesforce since their relationship is with the client and not with us directly.  Salesforce is used by all departments at athenahealth and we would not want to create any confusion about who we can speak to.
Photo of Nitisha Rathi

Nitisha Rathi, Employee

  • 14,556 Points 10k badge 2x thumb
Hi All,

Thanks for post and ideas. We are planning to add the functionality to add attendees who don't exist as a contact.
Would you also like us to automatically add these attendees as a contact? Along with automatically adding them as a contact, would it be useful if we show a small pop-up to add additional data of the contact e.g. full name, role, etc.

Thanks,
Nitisha
(Edited)
Photo of Seth

Seth, Employee

  • 14,470 Points 10k badge 2x thumb
Thanks, Nitisha. I'm checking with our CSMs on what they'd prefer.
Photo of Angela Domenichelli

Angela Domenichelli

  • 1,402 Points 1k badge 2x thumb
No, please do not add as Salesforce contacts automatically.  This might be a good toggle for admins to have.
Photo of Mara Leal

Mara Leal

  • 106 Points 100 badge 2x thumb
I'm with @Angela Domenichelli - Please don't add.  SFDC should house only those contacts/clients we have direct contact with at the Account level.  As she states above, "It will be important to note that person attended the meetings and be able to filter for meeting when this person attended, but we would never add this person to Salesforce since their relationship is with the client and not with us directly."  Makes or better data hygiene.