It is nice when you can duplicate complicated records carrying extensive metadata. However, duplicate records of the same dataset hanging around in your Salesforce system can cause more damage than you can imagine.
Imagine call notes and customer requests partially updated across multiple records. Bad data, especially duplicate data can prove to be costly in terms of missed sales opportunities. Imagine the time lost when your sales team is pursuing leads with duplicated data. Duplicate records will also hamper employee experience. Your team’s effectiveness and productivity will dip despite being armed with a powerful tool like Salesforce.
According to IBM’s estimate, organizations lose up to #3 Trillion annually due to bad data. (Source)
Challenges in duplicate data management in Salesforce
There is a worldwide data explosion happening as you are reading this article. The volume of data or information created has increased at least threefold in the last 5 years. And it is expected to reach 180 Zettabytes by 2025 (Statista).
Even at an organizational level, there is a significant amount of data being created and managed on a daily basis. As a result, even if you manage to keep your data clean today, there is a high probability that it will get contaminated with duplicate records, incomplete records, or even erroneous records in the near future. Bad data comes with a price.
Fortunately, Salesforce offers duplicate records management. There are third-party applications as well that help purge and manage duplicate records. But, if you want to stick to native tools within Salesforce, these are some of the limitations:
- Finding and merging duplicate records requires manual intervention
- You will have to manually select parent records for editing or purging
- There is no logic to find hidden duplicates
- You cannot merge custom or standard objects
Due to these challenges, it is necessary that your organization puts into place certain duplicate data management strategies that will keep bad data away from your system.
Strategies for effective duplicate management in Salesforce
Let’s take a deep dive into some effective strategies that will help keep your Salesforce data clean and free of duplicate records.
1. Define duplicate records
In simple terms, a duplicate record is one where the same information is stored in two different records. For example, a single client record could have multiple records. However, it is necessary to inspect closely to determine whether it is a duplicate record or an account with multiple attributes. If it is the latter case, deleting any of the single records could actually lead to critical data loss. To avoid such accidental deletion, it is necessary to define what duplicate records mean and the best practice to eliminate them.
The basic thumb rule would be to check if the duplicate records have separately identifiable purposes. If not, an ideal thing to do would be to purge them.
2. Determine the source of duplicate records
In any organization, data that enters that Salesforce system is created internally. However, there could be instances, especially those related to marketing campaigns, where external data could enter the system. The chances of duplicate data entering the system from outside is higher than through internal sources.
However, this changes from organization to organization based on their data sanity checks. A detailed analysis of where duplicate data originates from would help in eliminating them at the source.
Most common instances of external data entering the system include sign-up form, newsletter subscription, email collected through external websites, emails collected through events, etc.
3. Perform data cleansing before importing
The best way to prevent a problem would be to eliminate the root cause. The best way to eliminate bad data from getting into your system would be by cleaning it before it becomes part of the system. This is necessary especially if you have multiple stakeholders regularly importing data into your system.
It may not be feasible to assign dedicated personnel for data cleansing. An easier thing to do would be to train individual stakeholders in data cleansing tactics that they can follow before importing data into the system. They can also be made aware of how duplicate data gets created, the damage it causes, and how to prevent it.
A thorough data cleansing will protect data integrity and ensure that your sales team or other stakeholders will have to spend less time dealing with duplicate records.
4. Use Salesforce Global Search
The Salesforce Global Search tool lets you search any record in Salesforce that is marked as searchable. The search tool also lets you search across the database or in specific objects. It is perhaps the simplest way to narrow down duplicate records.
Further, the Global Search tool also has AI-powered Einstein built-in which can even return records with nicknames. This helps crackdown on duplicate records which otherwise could be missed due to mismatching identifiers.
In addition to name, you can also use the company name, location, phone, email, etc. to filter duplicate records. After an analysis of the duplicate line items, you can decide to purge them or remove them altogether from the system.
5. Activate matching rules and duplicate rules
Matching rules and duplicate rules in Salesforce can work together to help you reduce the frequency of duplicate record creation. Matching rules help identify individual fields that you would like to check against to find a match. Check out these matching rules examples from Salesforce.
Duplicate rules work with the help of matching rules. You will need at least one matching rule to create a duplicate rule. Duplicate rules help prevent a duplicate record from being created, alert the user when they are about to create a duplicate record, or proceed with its creation if it is warranted.
Using Matching rules and duplicate rules together will help you in effective duplicate management. Salesforce also lets you create custom matching rules and duplicate rules for all objects, including custom objects.
If you are not sure where to get started to set duplicate rules, check out these six rules that Salesforce recommends.
6. Set up rules to ‘Allow’ and ‘Report’ data
As discussed in the previous point, it is vital to set up matching rules and duplicate rules. However, sometimes it may be easier to allow for data to be created than to have rigid rules around it.
Hence, the need to set up duplicate rules that ‘Allow’ and “report’. The duplicate rules will give you a report of possible duplicates that need to be taken care of. This is especially useful when you are importing data from third-party applications. However, if you want stricter control over internal data, it is better to turn on the ‘Block’ condition based on selected user profiles. This will also help in reducing duplicate records created internally.
Towards cleaner data: Getting rid of duplicate records in Salesforce
Having a clean dataset that is free of duplicate data records itself is a tremendous boost for your sales team. It will translate into higher benefits including increase in revenues, reduced customer churn, and better employee experience.
Salesforce as a business engagement software does offer some level of protection against duplicate records. However, to reduce duplicate records to a bare minimum and to ensure data hygiene, it is necessary to take some proactive measures outlined here.