I suggest you ...

The 100% PERFECT SOLUTION for having MULTIPLE Phone Numbers and Email Addresses instead of using SUB CONTACTS !!!

Introduction: I have been spending the last MONTH brainstorming ideas for how to best optimize/clean-up the issues with sub-contacts not being “real” contacts (as far as the RS system is concerned) (see list of details below). I am very happy to report that I have a 2-stage overhaul solution that will ABSOLUTELY FIX EVERY LIMITATION/PROBLEM that exists with contacts, sub-contacts, and “business” contacts. I’m (almost) not joking when I say I should be paid for figuring this out. I call it: Linked-Contacts

References: These are the problems that exist that drive me crazy, and I know everyone else hates too:
- Sub-contacts of a business almost always need to reference data from the “main” contact (office phone, address, etc) which requires entering the same data multiple times into any sub-contacts. This requires excessive re-entry of information that is overridden when a new sub-contact is assigned to a ticket. (http://i.imgur.com/md7lfsx.jpg)
- Sub-contacts do not pull a CID lookup, even when set as the assigned contact for a ticket. (very annoying)
- Sub-contacts do not support customized phone numbers other than Phone and Mobile. (very weak. What about office numbers with extensions?!)
- Sub-contacts of a business often need to exist twice – as an individual and a business sub-contact, even though the info is the same.
- Sub-contacts have no way to reference their relation (assistant, mother, accountant, co-owner, etc) to the “main” contact (without changing their name, which is retarded)
- Sub-contacts do not support “sub-businesses” – like companies with multiple offices (eg. separate medical offices with shared staff)
- Sub-contacts for individuals (like family members in the same home) seems logical, but is super messy and is impossible to keep organized.

Deduction: I consider sub-contacts to be “piggyback” contacts and are a poor solution to connecting/grouping “real” contacts together. I know this is a serious overhaul of a module, but it CAN be done – and the sooner it’s done, the easier it will be. Sub-contacts as a feature needs to be ELIMINATED, even if that means we have to manually re-enter all data that is currently stored as sub-contacts. I would normally say “depreciated”, but it’s so horrible that I really think it needs to be taken out back and shot.

Metaphor: Sub-Contacts are Windows Vista, and “Linked-Contacts” are Windows 7. (Okay, enough mean words…)

Application: Instead of seeing “Sub-Contacts” in another contact’s page (which are required to be created/edited from within that “container contact”) – you would simply be able to “Link” contacts that already exist together (http://i.imgur.com/EbSSEpG.jpg). You could very quickly link or unlink related contacts to either a business “container” account, or even to other individual customer accounts (useful for families).

STAGE 1 – “LINKED” Contacts:

1. Every sub-contact that currently exists needs to be converted to a “real” contact – meaning they have their own customer page, their own phone number, their own email address, etc. (In reality, sub-contacts all should have this, but may not because they live in an imaginary world where they are not bound by the same security checks as real contacts.)
2. Businesses should not be attached to a “main contact”. As it stands currently, the business name is more of a “nickname” for the customer than what it should be – a CONTAINER! A business is nothing without a contact, and most contacts are not the business. (The only appropriate example is a sole proprietorship who never has plans to have another employee – good for them.) Otherwise, businesses are a “folder” for the employees – which are the “files”. (these metaphors are brilliant, I know)
3. A business and a contact are not the same thing. A business needs to be created differently that a contact. (While I love the convenience of being able to create a contact and have them associated with a business instantly, you should not be able to edit both the contact and the business as one).
4. Businesses should have their own “customer page” but should not be able to have any data (tickets, estimates, etc) assigned to them directly. The account page for the business would show all “linked-contacts”, along with ALL data (communication logs, tickets, invoices, estimates, etc) for EVERY one of the linked contacts, all in one central place (like a container).
5. Creating a ticket for a business would force you to choose one of the linked-contacts as the assigned contact. You would not be able to create a ticket just for “The Business”. This would ensure that someone is always responsible/assigned to the businesses ticket.
6. The business would be allowed to have address(es), and phone number(s) – which would automatically associate to any linked-contact that is assigned to a ticket for the business.
7. Individual contacts could be used for individuals as a personal account – showing only the contact’s private data (tickets, estimates, communication, etc). However, if a ticket is made for the business (with the linked-contact set as the assigned contact) that data would be linked only to the business container account, and would not show in the individual’s private customer account.
8. Any ticket/data that is associated with a business account would reference the business’s information, in addition to the linked contact – specifically the CID lookup feature. Meaning, the system would be aware that a ticket is “for” a business “on behalf” of a linked-contact.
9. Business “container” accounts would be able to link to other business container accounts – useful for businesses with multiple locations, but different owners (like franchises). You would be able to see that a call may come in from “Taco Bell Largo” but it’s actually going to be billable to “Taco Bell St.Pete”, which is part of the same franchise, but has a different owner and set of assigned contacts – which would help eliminate accidental association with incorrect contacts.
10. Individual accounts could benefit by linking multiple family members together. Even if they don’t live together, it’s nice to associate people who are part of the same family – especially when they sometimes pay for other family member’s invoices.
11. Although families would not be a part of a “container” account (like a business), you would have the ability to view ALL data related to all of the individual linked-contacts – in case one of them is referencing a ticket for a family member. This would be very helpful for cross-referencing work across different accounts.

***** SEE COMMENT SECTION FOR CONTINUATION OF “STAGE 2” (ran over text limit) ******

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    Ryan (CTO, Pinellas Computers) shared this idea  ·   ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

    63 comments

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      • Ryan (CTO, Pinellas Computers) commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Hey Troy,

        It's been two and a half months since your last update; is there any news on this? I'm assuming that since the status is still "Planned", the dev's are still finishing up other projects. Being that this was the #1 post on the "Hot" list of the forum for about 3 months, really anxious to see some of these features come to life. Looking forward to seeing this in "Started" status...

        Thanks,

      • Floyd Wagers commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I am just onboarding with Repairshopr also and trying to figure out how to assign tickets to employees but invoice the business. What is the status of this update?

      • Clifford commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Troy,

        Any status on this? We're just onboarding with RepairShopr and we're not sure if we should wait a couple of weeks to import our contacts and setup the new way, or just setup in the existing format and deal with the transition later.

        Do you have a approximate release date? or Beta we can join?

      • adam commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Yeah, the current system is a pretty big disaster in this area. This sounds like the way to do things.

      • Brian commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I very much agree with this; this would also separate the features specific to a business. On the other side, when creating a ticket based on the user, it should give you two options on the search: The user alone and the user linked to the company. This would allow for billing the individual user, vs the company, and reduce duplicate entries for when a user is coming to you regarding something personal vs. submitting a ticket for their company.

        This opens the door for some other fixes I've seen requested, so I'd say it's very worth investing the time to add this.

      • Ryan (CTO, Pinellas Computers) commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        @Greg - Thanks! Like I said, I spent a month drawing up all the details and then a good 3 hours transcribing it all with mock ups.

        @Tim - I figured AutoTask and ConnectWise probably had it set up like this, but I've never had the chance to use either. If you were a former user, could you perhaps take some screenshots and draw over some of their key features you'd like to add to this post? Thanks!

        @Neal - Feeling your pain :/

        @Chuck, @Kevin, @Matt - Crossing fingers...

      • Greg Williams commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Wow, this is a fabulous post, I was pondering coming up with a recommendation along almost exactly the same lines but I don't think I could have said it so well!

        I agree that a client should be a container where we get to nominate the "account name" whether it is a business or a private individual (or couple for that matter) and then choose the contacts who belong to that container whether or not they already belong to other containers Ie we have customers who deal with us as an indvidual, as a contact for a business or other organisation and often they also act for a social group or sporting club so we have the same person in our database multiple times. It would be heaven on a stick to be able to cross-link to all of the organisations a contact is connected to.

        I also agree that that a massive re-write of the client module but we too would see this as a crucial next step

      • Kevin commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Is this being considered yet? I didn't see any comments from Troy or Robert yet.

      • Neal commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I agree as well. I have one big customer with many locations but one main email point of contact. Because of these limitations I can't create one account per location (since I can't use an already used email address) so I'm stuck billing everything under one account and trying to make the invoices comprehensible regarding which location they're for.

      • Ryan (CTO, Pinellas Computers) commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        @Tim - Love it
        @Matt - Thanks!

        There's multiple topics on the feedback forum that are mentioning overlapping issues that this would fix. From "Allow duplicate email address between customers" to "Separate Tabs for Customers/Businesses" to "Expanding the Contact Module" and more...

        Let me know if you guys have anything else to add to this idea.

      • timothy meredith commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I know how Autotask handled contacts/customers was to allow you to link contacts as you said and allowed several granular definitions for each contact in how the workflow would be handled.

        For example, you could link contacts and set one as the "master" or headquarters contact, allow you to assign an office manager contact, billing/account manager contact, etc. You could define the contacts as you wished and set who would get ticket updates for that customer/client profile, who would get invoices, etc.

      • Ryan (CTO, Pinellas Computers) commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        @Tim - Wow! That's another issue I never even thought of that would definitely be fixed with this. There are so many things that are limited by the current sub-par sub-contacts feature that will be improved once it is upgraded.

        @Everyone - If you see any other topics on the feedback forum that may be remedied by this post, please link them here so they can vote to get this implemented ASAP.

      • timothy meredith commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I agree 100% with this. We really like the customer profiles but it's crippled by certain features that would be fixed with this post. For example, if we manage a companies IT and they have 50 employees, we instruct all of the employees to use the portal, they instantly get to see the billing information and anything created in any ticket which could have confidential information that only executives wanted to see. It also doesn't let them pick which contact they are so if they forget to say who they are in the ticket, it instantly creates problems, let alone the person who has the main email gets blown up with emails.

        Linked contacts are the only way to move forward that easily fix these problems, sub contacts are a bandaid like you said!

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