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What’s the best way to merge customer records?


Q. What’s the best way to merge customer records?

A: In every DMS there are many duplicate customer records. In dealerships it’s a frequent occurrence for customers to be entered into the database more than once. Sometimes they get married, sometimes the name is misspelled as it’s entered, or dealership staff may do a quick customer search using a phone number. If that phone number has been changed, the search function won’t return any results so the customer is entered again.

Duplicate customer records create problems. Service may be attaching all service history to one record while sales attaches a deal to another customer record. Accounting and parts may view entirely different records for the same person. It’s impossible to gauge a comprehensive history and value of a customer without seeing all dealership transactions attached to their record.

Historically speaking, merging customers in a DMS has been difficult because you had to choose one record and manually add all the history from the other records. This takes time; so much time in fact that there are entire businesses devoted to merging customer records.

Fortunately, this has changed. Auto/Mate has recently released a utility designed to make merging customers records easy and fast! We are incredibly excited about it. The utility is designed to be used on the fly, so as you’re making an appointment on the phone or talking to a customer in the showroom you can merge their customer records in an instant.

Whenever you use the customer search function to enter a name, a list of records is presented to choose from. As you view that list you may see several records that appear to be the same. Example: John C. Smith, J.C. Smith and John Smith.

Similar to how you would select multiple names in Windows, simply click on one of the names, hold the shift key down and use the arrow key to select the three names. Click the “Merge” button and a dialogue box will pop up in the window.

The dialogue box presents the differences between the customers in a user-friendly graphical format. If “John Smith” is a completely different person than “John C. Smith” that will be immediately apparent and you can de-select John Smith.

If “John C. Smith” and “J.C.Smith” are the same person, the dialogue box will display the differences between them. You can easily pick and choose which element is the correct one by selecting that field. The utility will suggest which data is correct based on the date of the last field entry. So if a cell number was entered in one record in 2012 and the other in 2015, it will suggest the most recent phone number as the one that is probably correct.

All it takes is a few clicks on the appropriate fields, and the records will be merged. All history and transactions attached to each record will be retained in the single merged record.

Merging customer records no longer has to be a time-consuming and expensive process. Auto/Mate’s new utility reduces the transaction to 30 seconds or less, so it can be performed while the customer is right in front of you or on the phone.


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