Understanding CRM contacts

Updated on 20-October-2016 at 10:16 AM

Business Catalyst End of life announcement - find out more details.

Customers are simply put site visitors that have some interaction with your site. Whenever somebody submits a webform, comments on a blog or forum post, signs up to a newsletter or makes a purchase the system creates a contact in the CRM for this particular site visitor and stores the information he submitted to the system the order, the comment he posted or the text he entered in a feedback form against that CRM contact.

Note: The customer database is not available on all site plans. See Detailed plan breakdown

In Business Catalyst there are two main types of CRM contacts: customers and companies. Both contacts and companies can be interconnected to one another using "relationships" - we will cover this in a different section.

Note: For the best experience using Business Catalyst we recommend creating a maximum of 100000 CRM records. For more details please see the Business Catalyst limitations .

There are several ways you can populate your CRM database, you can use one or all of them, here is how you can add contacts:

Add a contact from the Admin Console

  1. Select CRM > Customers.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • To add an individual contact, click Add Contact
    • To add a company, click Add Company
  3. Specify the customer details and click Save or Save and Finish.

Populate the contacts organically from the front-end

This is the most commonly used way of populating the CRM database. Whenever customers perform any of the actions below the system checks whether a contact with that particular email address exists and if it exists it adds the newly submitted information to it.

The system uses the email address submitted by the site visitor to determine whether it creates the contact or only attaches the information to an existing contact.

The most common ways of creating contacts from the front-end of your site include:

  • webform submissions - whenever somebody submits a webform on your site the system creates a CRM contact (if it does not exist already) and stores the webform's information in a case associated with that contact. We will cover this particular scenario in the Managing customers & cases article
  • newsletter subscriptions - if a person subscribes to your newsletter the system creates a CRM contact and marks it as subscribed for that particular newsletter list. Take a look at the Managing customers & subscriptions article for more details on how to implement this setup
  • purchases - if you have an online store and a site visitor makes a purchase the system will create an order and associate it to the site visitor's CRM contact. Take a look at this article for a more detailed description at how customers and orders work together
  • comment on your site - comments can be added to pages, blogs, forum posts, and so on. Whenever a site visitor submits a comment the system creates a contact and stores the comment itself against this contact. Take a look at this article for more info on how to enable customers to submit comments

Adding contacts in bulk

Contacts can also be added to the system by importing them in bulk. You can use any of the two import templates -the basic one that contains only the mail address, title, name and company fields and the advanced one which contains all the fields you can add to a contact.

The download template files contain a few tips and tricks on the first sheet, please go through them to get accustomed. To download the import template go to CRM -> Customers and click any of the 2 "Import" buttons at the top the at the top, this will open the Import panel:

Before importing a large number of contacts into the CRM database we recommend you first import a few of them, then go the CRM -> Customers panel and confirm the contacts are properly created and all the fields you need are in place. If everything looks good you can go ahead and import the rest of them.

The customer details panel

After you have created a contact you can click it and pull up the detail view:

In this view you can manage everything that is related to this particular contact, see the customer's activity on your site - this is like a log of what he does in the front-end, open a campaign, log into a member only area, make a booking, they are all logged under the "Activity" tab.

The other tabs contain the Cases, Orders and Bookings associated to this particular contact. In the Subscriptions panel you can see:

The campaigns the contact has been sent and the dates they have been sent on are logged under the "Campaigns Received" tab.

Managing and filtering contacts

The most convenient way of interacting your customer database is using the CRM -> Customers panel.

A more complex method you can use to manage customers would be to use the "Customer" types reports. Using the reports you can display custom fields associated to contacts and filter and sort the contacts using custom conditions.

Let's create a report that shows all the customers, their email address and their phone numbers:

  1. first off go to the Reports -> Custom reports panel and click the "Add Customer Report" button. Depending on the types of records you have in your database you can choose any of "Contacts Only", "Companies Only" or "Customers (Contacts and Companies)". Let's choose "Customers (Contacts and Companies)" for this example and click "Next"
  2. in the next screen you can choose the columns you want the report to have, let's check "Customer Name with Details", "Email 1 (Primary)" and "Cell Phone", then click "Next"
  3. in this screen you can add additional filtering criteria, for this example we will not use additional filters nor display only contacts that have a particular custom field filled in
  4. click "Generate Report"

After the report is generated you can go ahead and sort it using the table headers, export it to Excel, in PDF format to to a CSV file or do something with the results - add them to a campaign list, a secure zone or an affiliate program. You can also save the report for later use.