How To Article

How to Merge Contacts: A Complete Guide

Petrina Jo
Content Writer, Respond.io
March 4, 2022
How to Merge Duplicate Contacts on respond.io

Seeing double Contacts where only one should exist? It’s not your vision that’s the issue — you just have a case of duplicate Contacts. Avoid unnecessary trips to the optometrist with Contact Merge. We’ll show you how to merge Contacts and their Conversations for a holistic view of customers in your Workspace. We will also explain how duplicate Contacts occur and best practices to adopt when merging them.

Contact Merge: Addressing Duplicate Contacts

First, let’s talk about Contact duplication. To understand the value of the Contact Merge tool, you need to know how duplicate profiles are created and noticed on respond.io, as well as why companies should merge Contacts.

A Common Cause of Contact Duplication

A major competitive advantage of respond.io is that it connects businesses with customers on any Channel. Each first incoming message from a Channel — be it email, web chat or messaging app — creates a new Contact as a practical way to build a Contact list.

This image shows how each first incoming message from a Channel — be it email, web chat or messaging app — creates a new Contact. This is an easy and practical way to build a Contact list for business use..
Each first message from a new Channel creates a new Contact

There are a few reasons why Contacts would reach out on different Channels. For one, impatient Contacts will message a business on a few Channels at the same time, hoping that one has quicker responses.

They could also initiate conversations on different Channels over time according to convenience. Perhaps they prefer using WhatsApp when on mobile and web chat when on desktop. This would result in separate Contact profiles.

Duplicate Contacts Detected by Repeat Email Address or Phone Number Use

So, how does respond.io recognize Contact duplication? The platform treats phone numbers and email addresses as unique. Repeat use of either alerts the platform of overlapping key properties between two profiles.

This is an image of how Contact duplication is detected by fr.respond.io. The platform treats phone numbers and email addresses as unique. Repeat use of either alerts the platform of overlapping key properties between two profiles.
New messages from the same Contact on different Channels create duplicate Contacts

Let’s say a Contact reaches out to a business on WhatsApp and Telegram. If both Channels are registered to the same phone number, respond.io will detect the coinciding Contact properties.

The Trouble with Duplicate Contacts

This brings us to the next question: Why should you merge duplicate Contacts? There are a couple of reasons why you may not want Contact duplication to go unchecked.

This is an image depicting the issues that are raised when duplicate Contacts are not handled. They include an inefficient use of resources and the increased risk of spamming them by sending a Contact the same message or broadcast multiple times. Businesses should merge these profiles if they are the same person to facilitate better user and customer experiences.
Leaving duplicate Contacts unchecked raises a couple of issues

Firstly, interacting with duplicate Contacts is an inefficient use of resources. Let’s say a customer enquires about a sales promotion on both WhatsApp and Telegram. Addressing the same customer afresh on each Channel would cost you time and manpower.

If the profiles were merged, you would immediately notice they had asked the same question twice. Letting them know you received both messages and replying them just once indicates a high level of attention to customer handling.

Another potential downside of duplicate Contacts is the increased risk of inadvertently spamming them. For instance, sending the same broadcast to a Contact multiple times could get you reported for spam, which lowers your quality rating on Channels like WhatsApp.

Elegant Contact Merge Solutions with respond.io

Contact management is a valuable piece of the operations jigsaw for most businesses. While many platforms allow users to merge contacts, the unique way respond.io approaches Contact merging has several advantages.

This is an image citing the three benefits of the unique way fr.respond.io allows users to handle Contact merging. These include prompting merge suggestions, consolidating conversations across Channels for both profiles and retaining Contact data such as properties and all Channel connections for both Contacts after merging.
The advantages of merging Contacts on respond.io

Let’s briefly explore some of these merits.

Contact Merge: Prompts Suggestions to Merge Contacts

Most platforms require users to manually search for or discover duplicate contacts themselves. In contrast, respond.io does the heavy lifting by alerting platform users about duplicate Contacts and prompting merges.

Contact Merge: Merges Conversations Across Channels

Contact Merge not only merges duplicate Contacts and their properties, but also consolidates all Channels, Messages, Events and Comments associated with both in a single profile.

This is an image of how all conversations on any Channel linked to the Contacts are also consolidated  during a Contact merge. These conversations will then be displayed in chronological order on a scrollable interface in the messaging console.
Messages exchanged on all Channels associated with the duplicate Contacts will also be merged

Conversations across Channels are then displayed in chronological order on a seamless, scrollable interface in the messaging console. This creates a comprehensive overview of the Contact and all their interactions with a business.

Contact Merge: Retains Contact Data After Merging

Instead of only saving a single property per field and automatically deleting other data, respond.io retains the properties and Channel connections for both Contact profiles when merging.

This is an image showing how fr.respond.io retains all Channels linked to both Contact profiles after they are consolidated. The Channels can be accessed in the Channel Selector of the messaging console in the Messages Module.
All Channels linked to the duplicate Contacts can be accessed in the Channel Selector after merging

You can choose which Channel to message Contacts on from the Channel Selector in the message composer.

Now that you’re up to speed on why you should merge duplicate Contacts, here is a rundown on the various methods to merge Contacts on the platform.

How to Merge Contacts on respond.io

Contact merging can be done in certain modules by Users with the relevant access levels. You can merge multiple Contacts together, but only two profiles at a time.

This is an image of the platform modules and users that can merge duplicate Contacts. According to their access levels, Users can verify the identity of duplicate profiles and merge duplicate Contacts once they are sure both profiles belong to the same person. While multiple Contacts can ultimately be merged into a single profile, combining all their Channels and conversations, only two profiles can be merged at a time.
The platform modules that support Contact Merge and the Users who have access to them

Read on to learn how to merge Contacts in the different modules.

Agents: Merge Contacts in the Messages Module

Agents are typically the first in line to attend to Contacts who reach out. If duplicated Contact properties are detected during an inbound conversation, the platform will prompt Agents about a merge opportunity.

This is an image showing how merge suggestions are prompted when duplicate properties such as phone numbers or email addresses are detected during inbound conversations. An indicator will appear in the Channels tab of a Contact's profile, alerting Agents of a merge suggestion. Agents can verify if the duplicate profiles belong to the same person and then consolidate them..
An indicator in the Channels tab of the Messages Module will prompt Agents about a potential merge

A merge suggestion will be indicated in the Channels tab of the Contact’s profile in the Messages Module. Agents can examine the validity of the merge suggestion and proceed with the merge if the Contacts are indeed duplicates.

This GIF shows how Agents can merge duplicate Contacts in the Messages Module during inbound conversations. A merge suggestion will be indicated in the Channels tab of the Contact’s profile in the Messages Module. Agents can examine the validity of the merge suggestion and proceed with the merge if the Contacts are indeed duplicates.
How Agents can merge Contacts in the Messages Module

1. Navigate to Merge Suggestions

In the Channels tab, scroll down to the bottom of the connected Channels list until you come to the Merge Suggestions section.

2. Verify the duplicate profiles

Click on the suggested profile and ensure this is a duplicated Contact. If both profiles belong to the same Contact, initiate the merge by clicking on the Merge icon next to the duplicate profile.

3. Select key Contact properties

Click on the relevant buttons to affirm which key properties you would like to save as the default if they differ in both profiles. For instance, if each profile has a different email address, choose which would be the main email for the Contact.

4. Click on Merge Contact

Confirm the merge by clicking on the Merge Contact button.

Owners or Managers: Merge Contacts at the Dashboard

Not all businesses want Agents taking on the responsibility of merging Contacts. Workspace Owners or Managers who prefer to handle merges themselves can do so any time at the Dashboard.

This is a GIF showing how Owners and Managers can merge duplicate Contacts on the Dashboard. Some businesses may not want Agents taking on the responsibility of merging Contacts. Workspace Owners or Managers who want to handle merges themselves can do so any time at the Dashboard.
How Owners and Managers can merge Contacts on the Dashboard

1. Navigate to Merge Suggestions

Scroll down the Dashboard to the Merge Suggestions section to see if there are any prompted merges.

2. Verify the duplicate profiles

Click on the suggested profiles and ensure these are duplicate Contacts. If both profiles belong to the same Contact, initiate the merge by clicking on the Merge icon next to the duplicate profiles.

3. Select key Contact properties

Click on the relevant buttons to affirm which key properties you would like to save as the default if they differ in both profiles. For instance, if each profile has a different email address, choose the main email for the Contact.

4. Click on Merge Contact

Confirm the merge by clicking on the Merge Contact button.

Owners or Managers: Merge Contacts via the Contacts Module

In certain situations, Owners or Managers may know of duplicate profiles that don’t share any key identifiers. This could occur if a Contact alternates between their work and personal phone numbers or email addresses while chatting with a business over time, for example.

This is an image of how duplicate Contacts profiles that don't share phone numbers or email addresses might exist in a business' Contact list. Workspace Owners and Managers should only consolidate these profiles if they are absolutely certain that they belong to the same Contact. If there are any doubts at all about their identities, they should be retained as separate profiles.
Merges will not be prompted for duplicate Contacts who don’t share phone numbers or email addresses

As there will not be any prompts for a Contact merge in this instance, you would have to seek out these duplicate Contacts yourself. Verify beyond doubt that they are indeed the same person. Only then should you proceed with the merge.

This is an image of how Owners and Managers can consolidate duplicate Contacts without prompted merge suggestions in the Contacts Modules. In certain situations, Owners or Managers may know of duplicate profiles that don’t share any key identifiers. This could occur if a Contact alternates between their work and personal phone numbers or email addresses while chatting with a business over time, for example. Merging contacts should only be done after verifying their identities.
How Owners and Managers can merge Contacts in the Contacts Module

1. Select the profiles you would like to merge

Click on the checkboxes next to the two profiles in the Contacts row. If the Contact has a third duplicate profile, it can be attended to after performing the first merge.

2. Click on Merge

The Merge button will appear at the top of the column header. Click on it to initiate the merge.

3. Select key Contact properties

Click on the relevant buttons to affirm which key properties you would like to save as the default if they differ in both profiles. For instance, if each profile has a different email address, choose the main email for the Contact.

4. Click on Merge Contact

Confirm the merge by clicking on the Merge Contact button.

As you can see, these are straightforward processes to merge Contacts. That said, there are some good habits Users can practice.

Best Practices to Merge Contacts Efficiently

This set of best practices comprises two main components. The first tackles how to build comprehensive Contact profiles to prompt merge suggestions if a duplicate Contact is detected and the second ensures accuracy when merging Contacts.

This image shows the two best practices to keep in mind when merging Contacts. These include making Contact properties collection a key part of your data enrichment process with new Contacts and verifying duplicate Contact identities thoroughly before proceeding to merge them.
Best practices to adopt when merging Contacts

Let’s look at the proactive collection of Contact details and how it contributes to effective Contact management.

Collect Contact Properties Upfront

Not all messaging channels are tied to a phone number or email address as different channels require different forms of identification. Without these key identifiers, the platform cannot detect duplicate Contacts.

Obtaining these details upfront allows businesses to build complete Contact profiles and chat with Contacts after messaging windows have closed. For instance, only Contacts can reopen conversations on WeChat while WhatsApp charges new conversation fees for messages sent outside the 24-hour window.

To continue conversations without these restrictions, you need an alternative Channel such as email.

This is an image showing how businesses can collect Contact details such as phone numbers and email addresses upfront through a pre-chat form with mandatory contact fields on their web chat widget. This will help them to build complete Contact profiles and avoid duplicate profiles going unnoticed, as well as chat with Contacts after messaging windows have closed.
Collect Contact details upfront by creating a pre-chat form for the web chat widget

The first way to collect these properties is with a pre-chat form on your web chat widget. Before Contacts start chatting with you on web chat, have them fill out a pre-chat form with mandatory contact fields.

Decide which fields, such as phone numbers or emails, are best suited for data capturing. This depends on your use cases or the preferred messaging apps in your country.

This is an image of how the Ask a Question step in Workflows can be used to collect Contacts' key identifiers such as email addresses or phone numbers. This step could be implemented as a best practice and part of a business' data enrichment exercise during any inbound conversation.
An alternate method to collect Contact properties is the Ask a Question step in Workflows

Another way to obtain key Contact properties is through the Ask a Question step in Workflows. Set up an Ask a Question step that requires a phone number or email address input as part of your data enrichment exercise during inbound conversations.

Verify Contact Identities

Before merging duplicate Contacts, vet their details thoroughly to make sure that they are indeed two profiles of the same person. To decide if you need to merge the Contacts, do the below:

  • Double-check the Contact name
  • Check other identifiers, such as email addresses, phone numbers and identities in connected Channels
  • Check conversation history in the Messages Module, including interactions on other connected Channels to determine from their issues or tone if they are the same person
This is an image depicting how you can have a holistic view of customer interactions across Channels if duplicate profiles are consolidated. In the example shown in this image, businesses have access to prior Conversation contexts and are familiar with their customers thanks to the consolidated conversation history.
Merging duplicate Contacts can give you a holistic view of their interactions across Channels

Should there be are any inconsistencies in a duplicate Contact’s profile, add a comment to check their identity the next time they get in touch. Then verify their details and obtain a preferred email or phone number to be used as the platform default.

If there is sufficient evidence that both profiles belong to the same Contact, proceed with the merge. Do not merge Contacts if you have any doubts about their identities.

In case two different Contacts are wrongly merged, we’ve got you covered.

Contact Merge: Unmerging a Contact

Mistakes happen to the best of us, and we’re prepared for such a scenario. Fret not if you accidentally merged two different Contact profiles.

How to Unmerge Contacts

First, make sure you have an unavoidable reason for unmerging, such as the merged profile comprises two different Contacts.

This is a GIF showing how to unmerge Contacts on fr.respond.io using the Contacts Module. Unmerging has to be done by Owners or Managers as only they have access to the Contacts Module. Also, do note that any Conversations that took place while the profiles were merged will be retained in the conversation history of just one profile.
How to unmerge Contacts in the Contacts Module

1. Identify the Contact

Find the profile you wish to unmerge in the Contacts Module.

2. Initiate Contact unmerge

At the far end of the Contact’s row, click on the three dots to open the Actions Menu and select Unmerge Contact.

3. Unmerge the Contact

A dialog box will open to display the two merged Contact profiles with their names, IDs and connected channels. Select the profile to be unmerged and click the Unmerge button at the bottom. The profiles will immediately be unmerged.

Unmerging has to be done by Owners or Managers as only they have access to the Contacts Module. Also, do note that any Conversations that took place while the profiles were merged will be retained in the conversation history of just one profile.

Efficient Contact management is a point of pride on respond.io, reflected in the way it alerts Users about duplicate Contacts, prompts merges and offers flexibility in deciding who can merge Contacts. Keep an eye out for more improvements to the Contact Merge tool.

Further Reading

Interested in learning how else respond.io can solve your business problems? Check out these articles:

Tags
Copied to Clipboard!

Ready to get started?

Thank you! You are being redirected to sign-up form.
Oops! Something went wrong, refresh your browser and try again.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Sign Up Free