Duplicate check and data maintenance in CRM: Interview guest Robert Hawke from the USA
Robert Hawke is Project Manager at OMICRON electronics for more than 13 years and an expert in his field. The specialist answers Markus Klapprodt, Head of Operations at snapADDY, questions about CRM, among other things.
Business Process Manager
OMICRON electronics is an international company headquartered in Austria and has about 20 locations worldwide. OMICRON products are found almost everywhere where electricity is mentioned – test and diagnostic equipment, monitoring solutions and everything for the electrical power industry.
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Marcus Klapprodt: What did you want to improve in Dynamics and what problems did you want to solve with snapADDY?
Robert Hawke: I was involved in our first CRM project in 2011. At that time, we had the same problem we have today, and we couldn't find a solution either. When we started implementing the CRM system two years ago, we looked for a solution again. Our main problem was that we had a relatively large amount of data coming from external sources over which we had no control regarding the data quality. The data came from address lists, events, and trade fair lists, contact forms at trade fairs, registration for our training courses, customer portal, or business cards. In the old system, we had the option to import the data into the CRM via an Excel list or enter the data manually. The problem was that the basic information was available, but the same contact could exist without being detected. In addition, we classified the contact into three possible categories: “Account”, “Contact”, or “Opportunity.” As a result, we had to manually search to find out if the contact already existed in the system. In addition, we had to verify that no typing error had been made and try several times if we did not immediately find what we were looking for. If the contact was already in the system, the data had to be corrected. However, the “Opportunity” category does not need to be checked for every data entry because that is not the purpose of signing up for a training course. The problem was the complex and, above all, time-consuming process, so we started looking for a tool that would automate the work and considerably reduce the manual effort.
Klapprodt: There is no out-of-the-box solution from Dynamics?
Hawke: That would have been our wish, of course. Microsoft also offers a duplicate check, but there are some issues associated with it. For example, the first name and last name fields must match identically to be recognized as duplicates. In addition, special rules with and/or cannot be mapped. snapADDY is much more flexible in this case. In addition, the user must also check everything manually, which means that there is no automation at all. In addition, country and state recognition is also a big issue, as we have predefined values that Dynamics cannot work with. snapADDY already had the technology for this with the BusinessCard recognition logic. Likewise, phone numbers play a role as you never know what source they come from or what they look like. Therefore, it would be better if it were standardized throughout the process. For a small support Dynamics is ok, but for our requirements it just hadn't been enough.
Klapprodt: How did OMICRON electronics notice snapADDY's solutions?
Hawke: We had already worked with snapADDY VisitReport and snapADDY CardScanner in other CRM projects and subsequently found the other solutions on your website. Our Microsoft consultant said that the business application Microsoft Power Apps would solve our problem as well. After comparing both options and finding almost no differences, the high cost of Microsoft’s solution was not justified. In addition, I had searched the entire Internet for a solution to duplicate check and other issues and did not find anything. Our service provider, Avenade, wanted to program everything for us. However, a second consultant who looked at the entire CRM project considered that it would be very time-consuming. Furthermore, a standard solution like snapADDY would have the advantage that it is supported and we could quickly change again if the needs change. Our consultant was familiar with snapADDY, and that's why I got in touch with you and explained our problems.
Klapprodt: What was the decisive factor for choosing snapADDY DataQuality?
Hawke: On the one hand, we couldn't find anyone who could implement what we wanted. On the other hand, I was delighted with the snapADDY team, as you were very open to our suggestions. You guys offered snapADDY DataQuality as your standard solution, which already met many of our requirements. However, automation was still missing, for example, and snapADDY was immediately ready to take on our specific requirements and respond to us. Even in the first meetings, I noticed that you were passionate about moving things forward and that the teamwork was very cooperative. It was also important to the IT that we have a solution that is supported and that we don't have to check ourselves after every update whether it still works. We are also happy with the decision to use snapADDY, as we found out that our previous business card scanner from Power Apps was not as good as the snapADDY CardScanner. In the meantime, we are using DataQuality and also VisitReport, so it has been worth it for us all around.
Klapprodt: We're glad to hear that! What exactly does the integration of snapADDY into Dynamics look like?
Hawke: We started with the external sources. The address lists are still done manually via an Excel upload since there is no snapADDY solution (yet). However, we handle the registrations for our events and trade fairs with VisitReport. We can capture reports, scan the business cards, attach notes and transfer them to the CRM system. For all the data coming from the website, we built an API interface with Avanade to automatically record the data in the CRM as a lead. There is no control of the data here, which means that spelling mistakes end up in the system as well. For the emails and business cards, we now use snapADDY DataQuality, which saves us a lot of time. Instead of manually entering and checking data, a new address is added in just a few seconds with an automatic duplicate check beforehand.
Klapprodt: What specific project have you carried out with snapADDY?
Hawke: We have implemented the snapADDY standard solutions mentioned above. In addition, with your help, we have implemented lead-to-account or contact-to-opportunity automation. Instead of manual search, we now have a duplicate check that verifies if a matching lead or account already exists. The best part is that the tools are customizable, and the check is also reliable. Even with typos or a slightly changed address, the duplicate is found. The same goes the other way around, so if the lead doesn't exist yet, it won't find anything either. Occasionally snapADDY is "unclear", so we have configured that in this case we manually check for a duplicate. However, this is rarely the case. If an account has been recognized, then Auto Merge is run and you can add individual fields. Finally, there are two possibilities: Either the user does not have to do anything because everything is done, or he has to do a manual update if there was a conflict between two field values, which prevented the rule from being resolved automatically. In this case, we use DataQuality, which we can open from the lead and then transfer the changes to the account. Exactly the same thing happens with Contact to check for duplicates and do the auto-merge. In addition, we have added the function "Auto Create" to create a contact immediately if snapADDY reports, for example, that the contact does not yet exist. Otherwise, there are again the two options of doing nothing or a manual adjustment. In "Opportunity" it is generally set up for manual editing, so we have left that as it is.
Saving time thanks to snapADDY
Klapprodt: Can you draw a first conclusion on how the changes have influenced OMICRON in practice?
Hawke: The system works practically very well and also saves time, as we expected. We have done the calculations for an event. This clearly shows the time difference, as you can see in the graph below. Suppose we have 200 contacts from an Excel list. It takes about 40 minutes to distribute the leads to the corresponding inside sales colleagues by country. Subsequent checking of duplicate accounts and contacts takes about 300 minutes and it takes the same time to create or adjust new accounts or contacts. Therefore, we already spend more than 11 hours on data maintenance and preparation for the actual profitable work with the customer, which is then limited to fewer contacts and requires another six hours. This means that 65% of the time is spent on data processing rather than on the customer. So the ratio is not right here. In comparison, with snapADDY we only need a little more than six hours in total, although we spend the same time on the customer. The reason is that we save the manual data processing. For example, snapADDY VisitReport recognizes the country and can assign the lead fully automatically to the appropriate inside sales colleague without any additional time investment. snapADDY can even assign the account already and therefore the lead is automatically assigned to the right person without having to manually enter the contact. Also, thanks to the API, no one has to check for duplicates manually, snapADDY checks them automatically and shows whether the lead exists or not. We save a lot of time in these two cases as these processes are fully automated. With Auto Merge, we were able to automate certain fields when updating and creating contacts or accounts, for example, a new job title or a registration for a mailing. We analyzed other changes, but in any case, there are far fewer contacts than before. So, instead of spending over eleven hours, we only spent half an hour on data maintenance. This does not mean that we had to fire the people who were doing the manual entry before we implemented snapADDY. We simply optimized the time we needed and had to spend on data maintenance. We often didn't have time to maintain lots of data, so we often lost data or didn't process it. This means that the big advantage for us is not necessarily time, but the fact that the data is properly qualified and goes correctly into the system.
Klapprodt: That means you now spend your time on what really matters: Making the customer happy.
Hawke: That's right! snapADDY has also improved the turnaround time a lot. At events or trade shows, we often had contact with a customer in a day. But the sales representative didn't see it in the system until five or six days later, because it took so long to get the data into the system. With snapADDY VisitReport, the sales representative receives the contact data in a few minutes by clicking on "Export to CRM" while he or she is still at the trade fair, so that the follow-up process begins much earlier.
Klapprodt: How does snapADDY's duplicate check work compared to Microsoft's, which you had criticized?
Hawke: Thanks to Fabian [Streicher, Technical Consultant at snapADDY] almost everything we had asked for was implemented to adapt the duplicate check even better to us. Thanks to snapADDY, the country and state detection allows a lot of automation that would otherwise not be possible. We have also been able to find a solution for the phone format, e.g., the country code is added automatically, and, in addition, phone numbers are now easier to find thanks to a standardized field. snapADDY has also added the nickname function for our search - especially in the American region - which means that nicknames are taken into account in the duplicate check, e.g., Bill for William. In addition, duplicates are even found based on "phonetic sounds" if a name is misspelled. At the field level, it proved how large a match to a duplicate was found. The result is, for example, five contacts found, which are evaluated with points. At 100 points, the contact is considered identified, up to 50 points it is unclear and fewer points means no duplicate. Of course, it takes time to optimize, but I am already satisfied. In the cooperation, we have not only shared our ideas, but you have often expanded them, even leading to exceeding our expectations.
Klapprodt: What does Auto Merge mean and how does it work?
Hawke: When I have a record and a contact has been identified, an Auto Merge is performed as it only works if an exact match is found with the right contact. In the following graphic, you can see an example of the fields available in the lead. There are different strategies for this: “LowQualitySource”, “HighQualitySource”, and “CustomerPortal”. With snapADDY we have made a mapping to store which source has which strategy. There is a difference between “complement”, “compare only” and “overwrite”. This means that when a “Customer Portal lead” is modified, we allow a lot to be overwritten. We assume that the information in the system has already been verified. In the case of “HighQualitySource”, the focus is more on “creating new” information in the sense of “adding” information, and in the case of “LowQualitySource”, the focus is on the comparison. If “overwriting” is required but is not planned in the strategy, the user must manually redo it with snapADDY DataQuality. Overall, snapADDY provides us with the lead and shows us exactly what the user still has to do manually. We even have a “business process flow” that reacts to the output. Here, the result can be that the user doesn't have to do anything with the lead. The lead is no longer shown to the user if there is nothing else to do for the “opportunity”. In the case of the “CustomerPortal”, 70-80% of the changes are made without the user having to re-verify them.
Klapprodt: How do you decide which strategy to take for which field?
Hawke: Well, it's necessary to find a balance because, on the one hand, you're afraid of losing data by overwriting it during the automation process. On the other hand, of course, you want to have data. To decide, I built a dashboard with Power BI that reads our leads. This allows me to analyze the duplicate check as well as Auto Merge. ( Do you want to know more about the exact analysis? Then feel free to watch the explanations in the video)
Klapprodt: Who did the integration of Microsoft Dynamics at snapADDY?
Hawke: This was a collaboration of snapADDY VisitReport team, OMICRON electronics CRM team and Avanade. The IT provider built the interface to our CRM system so that our leads would get to you.
For more insights, watch a live data transfer process from OMICRON here.
We thank Robert Hawke for sharing with us more about the processes at OMICRON electronics and why snapADDY DataQuality plays a key role in the lead management process.
The interview was recorded on 30/06/2021 and is available here.