Smart Syncing is now in public beta.
Before we dive into why it was needed and how it works, please note that this is most likely the last major thing which we will do in our current platform design. As we hope you know, PastorsLine is undergoing a total revamp. So, please bear with us if this version of smart syncing still has some growing pains. It functions quite well overall, and our public beta testing should ensure that it will be working at an even higher level in our redesigned PastorsLine.
Why we needed Smart Syncing
At the moment, we have two integrations—Church Community Builder (CCB) and Planning Center Online (PCO)—and by the time you see this video, we might have a third, Mail Chimp (MC).
As we continued two-way integrations with these different applications, we recognized the following challenges:
- There was an issue with duplicates in the account(s) of your external application(s)—for now, your CCB and/or PCO account(s).
- Most external apps required a minimum of first and last name + a phone number. To solve that, we created a dummy name consisting of first name “There” and last name “Friend”. While this worked for most of you, it was not ideal. Assuming that the person continued with the campaign/data capture, their information was updated—all good. If they did not, this contact remained as “There Friend”.
We developed smart syncing to minimize these two challenges as much as possible.
*Recent updates have been made since the first video was made. Check them out here:
We also added a flag (clock icon) to all groups which have external integrations. This flag comes with three new tabs: Matched, Pending/Duplicates, Resolve Dupes and Sync.
Your day-to-day activities with contacts and data capture
You continue using PastorsLine as usual, adding contacts and data manually (less recommended) or via our famous Digital Connect Texts (highly recommended).
Smart Syncing in action
Step 1: A contact texts your keyword (let’s say ‘pco1’) to your PastorsLine number.
Step 2: PastorsLine checks to see if the contact phone number is already in the system and finds all matching profiles with that same number. If more than one is found, that contact is now flagged as having potential duplicates.
Step 3: If the person then provides their full name, our system will repeat Step 2 again to find all the emails that match the email that was sent in. Step 2 is also repeated if they provide an email.
Step 4: PastorsLine will notify you (owners and admins only) by email if duplicates are found. This notification takes place every hour on the hour (8:00, 9:00, etc.), assuming that there are new duplicates in that hour. For example: We sent you an email about 2 pending/duplicates at 9:00 am. If there are new pending/duplicates between 9:01 and 9:59, you will receive an email at 10:00 am. If not, you will not receive an email.
***You can manage your notification settings for this on your "Notifications" page, under "External App Potential Duplicates Email Alerts". Users will not receive these notifications nor are they able to merge duplicates.
Resolving duplicates and syncing
Your control over this selection/matching process should reduce duplicates and “There Friend” dummy placeholders.
Step 1: On the Group Details page, click on the Resolve Dupes and Sync tab. The Pending Resolutions And Possible Matched Contacts page will open.
The smart syncing logic which generated this page
The PastorsLine platform uses three matching criteria: phone number, first and last names, and email address. Using this information, we can narrow down the possibilities to a short list of highly probable, potential duplicates. The unique searches are shown on the right-hand side (RHS) of the Pending Resolutions And Possible Matched Contacts page. The duplicates are shown on the left-hand side (LHS).
NOTE: Smart syncing is quite strict. Even if one match is found, if the first/last name, email, the phone do not match exactly, we would not automatch.
Before, we did this for only one record, and the data from PastorsLine would override the one in the integration (PCO, CCB). That is logical and works well assuming the person texting in gives good information. If they give garbage, it's not great.
Step 2: Now, you will pick the potential record to resolve from the LHS and then see the matching list of probably duplicates on the RHS. This page will show you the current contact so you can decide to keep the incoming, pick from the potential duplicates or create a new record. Here’s how:
2a. Select the match you desire by clicking on the desired option from the RHS.
2b. Click on Finalize then the Merge icon at the top. The Set the primary record association box will pop up. Setting the primary contact default is for the PastorsLine platform ONLY and does not have any connection with your external app setup.
2c. Double check your choice, and then click on Merge and Sync to finalize the process.
Step 3: Repeat this process for all the duplicates on the LHS.
- If PastorsLine did not find any potential matches, you will need to manually give us one before merging and syncing. This includes creating new contacts for people not yet in the system.
- Once you deal with all your duplicates, your Pending Resolutions And Possible Matched Contacts page will be empty.
- Does this process work for non-keyword features such as adding contacts manually to campaigns/data captures?
- Absolutely, and we’d be grateful if you could test this out and report back to use about how it went.
How can you help?
We’ve done a lot of extensive testing, but more is better. So, if you are actively using this feature, we would love it if you could test it in different conditions, and give us some feedback about how it is working...or not...with screenshots if at all possible.
We’re pretty excited about smart syncing and hope you are, too.
PastorsLine is one of the only platforms that offers a two-way integration with CCB, one with PCO, and (soon) one with Mail Chimp. One-way integrations are relatively easy to do, but as a former engineer, I am called to take up the ‘two-way challenge’. It gives me joy to solve the difficult problems so you don’t have to...and I also know that this is what churches really need.
Looking forward to getting your feedback soon!