Phone Number Upgrades
In support of our upcoming Enhanced Communication (autodialer) module, we’ll be improving phone numbers in the system. The current structure has been in place since the beginning of our software, and is due for an update. Our goals are to improve the quality of data in phone number fields, and offer flexibility to better handle users’ many numbers.
Since phone numbers are widely used within our system, we wanted to give users an opportunity to process the changes. We’ll release the new software at the end of the week (late night Friday 3/5), so you’ll have time to read this news item, watch the video, and check out our knowledge base article.
Video: Phone Number Updates
Knowledge-base Article: Phone Numbers
Our system currently holds phone numbers for employees, contacts, and students and has a few limitations.
Fixed Set of Phone Numbers
Our organization today is very simple. We give users a fixed set of phone number fields with static labels. It doesn’t support more numbers or different labels.
Free Form Data Entry
Users enter phone numbers into regular text fields with no data validation. Many numbers in our system today are not actually phone numbers, and wouldn’t work properly if we tried to dial/text them.
Lack of Priority
If individuals have many phone numbers, there’s no indication of which one to call first. When trying to reach an individual, users randomly choose a number and start calling.
Here’s a screenshot of editing phone numbers for contacts.
Dynamic List of Phone Numbers
Our first change allows employees, contacts, and students to have as many phone numbers as desired. Phone numbers are shown in a list, which can be as long as necessary.
When editing a phone number in the list, choose a label. We offer a variety of labels (inspired by Google Contacts).
Because phone numbers are in a list, each number has a priority. Call the top number first. Go down the list if you can’t reach them. Users can drag phone numbers and reorder the list.
To make automated calls, the communication API expects standard 10-digit phone numbers. We upgraded our UI to validate that data entered is actually a phone number. This should result in cleaner data inside the system.
As we looked at our customers’ data, we noticed many existing 7-digit phone numbers. So we assumed that users prefer fewer keystrokes, when possible. For easy data entry, we implemented a default area code. When entering a new phone number, the area code is pre-populated and users can type in the last 7 digits only.
We also noticed many non-phone numbers were entered. So we support the ability to add notes into phone number fields. This data gets marked as “not a phone number” so we won’t attempt to dial/text it.
When entering a phone number, you can also mark whether it accepts text messages, or not.
Migration of Existing Data
When we release the new software, we’ll migrate existing data into the new structure. Static fields will become lists. Any data that’s not a 10-digit phone number will be marked as “not a phone number.” Valid mobile phone numbers will be marked as being able to accept text messages.
Feel free to peruse the new UI and edit data in the list. You can drag phone numbers if you’d like to reorder priorities for phone number.
We’re also creating a “Mass Convert 7-digit Phone Numbers” page. This will allow you to take 7-digit phone numbers, marked as “not a phone number,” and add the default area code. This should make it easy to convert them to 10-digit numbers.
We hope that you like the new phone number functionality. As always, feel free to provide us feedback if you’d like to see changes.
Additionally, last month we announced a beta program for the Enhanced Communication (autodialer) module. If you would like to participate in the beta program or would like more information, please sign up here: https://forms.gle/uvL1Kc8JB7J3vDfe8
The Common Goal Team