Top 7 Tips for Smart Contact Management for Your Business
By Jolene Rutherford, Last updated: 2023-01-11 (originally published on 2021-05-19)
Modern-day businesses are on the constant lookout for new and effective digital solutions. Things like effective contact management systems will help manage their companies better. Technology has evolved to such a great extent, that most of our day-to-day processes within an organization are practically unimaginable without some use of tech. From advanced product management tools to help evaluate and design appealing products, to project management software that helps organizations thrive remotely as well as in offices, a vast array of tools and gadgets helps businesses move forward.
Do you use the same logic when managing your contacts? Few businesses do, at least for the time being, but a revolution is underway. Now that so many companies are rapidly moving towards remote and hybrid business models, improving and streamlining communications with smarter contact management is on the rise.
Smart, effective contact management through software as well as best practices means a world of difference for your productivity, transparency, and problem prevention. To complement your existing communication systems, we’ve compiled a few of the most powerful, yet seamless contact management tips and ideas that can elevate your business productivity. They can easily match your current setup, so they won’t disrupt your procedures – they will only improve them.
Build a clear and concise contact management policy
In much the same way your business needs a dedicated social media policy to ensure proper and appropriate interactions on different platforms, you need a policy for managing your contacts. This is a useful foundation for all interactions, be they internal or external, and they provide a legal basis for your employees to understand what they can or cannot do with your contact base.
- Contact management policies should outline all rules of conduct when representing your brand in any interaction.
- Make sure to let everyone know under what circumstances they can or cannot share the contact information from your business database.
- Depending on the person’s clearance level, they should know if they should add a superior or a team lead into an email thread.
- Use the policy to remind team members to regularly update and maintain their contact information, such as their valid email address, their profile photo, contact phone number, and the like.
- Provide clear guidelines as to which platforms your teams can use when interacting with customers from your database – this will secure transparency and eliminate issues, as you’ll be able to track and monitor the interactions when they are logged in the same software and tools.
Creating a policy will also depend on the tools you intend to use for managing your contacts, so make sure to write a flexible policy or adapt it as you shift to newer, more comprehensive platforms.
Avoid chaos by merging your contact duplicates
Many people use more than a single phone number, email address, or social media account when interacting with brands, business partners, as well as colleagues. With that in mind, you might find yourself storing these details as separate contacts in your address book, within Google especially, since it only takes a second. However, if you and your employees or colleagues continue with this practice, you risk overloading your database and contacting the same people multiple times without even realizing it.
Make sure that everyone who has access to your business address book is aware of this best practice, especially the people with the permission to edit existing contacts, add new contacts, or delete existing ones. Encourage people to merge duplicate contacts from their own address books and check if the information matches that of other people in your organization.
Delete unneeded contacts and outdated names to avoid sending emails to the wrong person, while adding to the clean look and feel of your contact platform. Whichever contact management system (also known as customer relationship management platform) you decide to use, this mindset will prevent clutter and chaos. If possible, use automation whenever you can to avoid storing duplicate contacts, if your platform can recognize existing names and information in your address book.
Use a trusted CMS/CRM for sharing contacts
Just like avoiding duplicate contacts in your address book helps with contact management, contact sharing in your Google address book is another useful, but underused feature available with the right integrations. For most businesses that use Gmail and the many available and connected Google features, the need to share contacts is all the greater in order to enable easier communication, collaboration, and tracking interactions.
For that, you can use a dedicated Gmail CRM tool that enables contact sharing in your address book, allowing you to share and edit contacts across your organization. Everyone in your business can use the integration to gain access to your business contact list, but also to communicate safely and seamlessly across a variety of tools, including their phones, laptops, PCs, and tablets.
A CMS/CRM tool of this kind gives you much more flexibility in how you manage your contacts, as well as permissions in your organization. You can also benefit from this unified system because you can track interactions and keep everyone in the loop when you’re engaging new leads, refreshing old conversations, and the like.
Divide and conquer your Google Contacts
A dedicated CRM for Gmail also helps with cross-departmental collaboration. Although not everyone has the permission to edit/delete contacts (and rightfully so), you can use the tool to get some clarity on which employees are in touch with different clients.
- You can set up contact categories and filters to help people distinguish with whom they should interact.
- Using other Gmail integrations, you can help your teams communicate not just via email, but also via chat tools, apps, and social media networks.
- You can track your sales efforts, marketing campaigns, and other interactions with more ease and clarity with a single tool tracking it all.
Setting up these categories doesn’t mean eliminating, let’s say, the marketing team from the loop of the sales team. On the contrary, it gives people clarity on where they can find relevant contacts for themselves, and where they can get updates on how certain interactions are evolving.
Set up categories and manage permissions
Smart contact management doesn’t refer exclusively to your external or customer-facing interactions. In fact, your HR experts can utilize this approach and the tech involved to streamline internal interactions, employee engagement, benefits programs, and training opportunities. Keep in mind that your outward-facing success is heavily dependent on your inward-facing engagement efforts.
To help your internal communications benefit from your contact management options and tools, you should allow your HR managers and teams to have a dedicated section for tracking, analyzing, and managing their internal conversations.
Make sure that only your HR department has access to this portion of your internal communications, since you don’t want to jeopardize anyone’s privacy, sensitive information, and performance reviews. You can set up separate strings of communication between your HR representatives and individual employees, as well as group feedback interactions to boost your brand’s performance, if you wish.
Enable the “unsend” option within your Gmail account
For Gmail business users, the godsend that is the “unsend” option is so widely underused that too many companies still need to deal with the repercussions of sending typo-filled emails and angry, rash responses. To make sure that all your interactions are handled with greater care, you should leverage this simple, free feature that is easy to set up.
Although you want your policy to do the majority of “guiding” when it comes to giving your employees direction, the unsend option is a lifesaver that can help you protect your reputation and preserve your professional relationships.
In fact, make sure that your policy encourages your employees to do this for their own accounts, too. This will help maintain consistency across your organization and maximize conflict prevention in case some of your customer support agents lose their patience.
Data and contact backups can save the day
Finally, managing your contacts also boils down to that technical, practical level of data backups. No matter which contact management system you choose and what kind of equipment you have within your business, you still need to conduct regular data backups.
If your employees regularly store contacts via their phones primarily, make sure they know how to sync their data with their Google Contacts and keep everything updated. This provides them with a solid basis to avoid duplicates in your organization, but it also allows other people to help maintain the integrity of your contact database.
Check with your IT experts if there’s anything you can do to make sure that your contact data is stored safely and updated regularly within your organization. They can organize seminars for your employees to help them gain some basic knowledge on how they can update and backup contact data, and everyone can contribute in their own way.
Some best practices outperform the others, while some tools can help complement such processes and elevate your business efficiency to great heights. It doesn’t matter if you’re running a small operation with no more than a dozen people, or a large corporation with teams dispersed around the globe.
Managing your contacts with great care, better policies, and smarter tools is a necessity that will help make your business a more prominent one in your industry, as it improves your communications and all your relationships.
This article does not constitute legal advice.
The opinions expressed in the column above represent the author’s own.