One great feature of the system is the ability to control duplicate patron records. An automatic process runs in the background every few minutes, checking your patron records for possible duplicates. If more than one record has matching details such as name, address, phone, etc, they will be listed on the Merge Records screen as possible duplicates. The Home screen will display how many possible merges have been flagged under the Important Notifications section at the top. You can access the Merge Records screen directly from that notification by clicking on it or by clicking on Database in the main menu, then Merge Records.
Some merges are completed automatically. This happens when two records have the exact same name and address and phone number. In this cases, the system assumes that the records refer to the same person and merges them automatically. No action is required. If address or phone are not present, they will not automatically merge.
For other merges, it lets you know how it identified them as potential duplicates (by name, address, etc). For each person, you can choose to Keep first or Keep second as the primary information on the account.
You can choose Same Household, which will leave both records intact, but will cross link them so all transaction history and mailing lists assignments will be displayed on both accounts. Household members get combined mailings.
You can also choose Don't merge in case the two just happen to have the same name or address.
When there are multiple instances of possible merges with the same patron, it's important to process only one instance at a time or it could error out.
Example: patrons A, B and C all have the same name and are potentially the same person. The system could flag the following possible merges.
- Patron A <---> Patron B
- Patron B <---> Patron C
- Patron A <---> Patron C
Resolving the first possible merge by keeping the first (Patron A) will automatically resolve the second possible merge as Patron B will no longer exist.
To process one at a time, select your option for the first one, click "Process Merge" at the top or bottom, then select the second, click "Process Merge", etc.
Also, note that the merge screen allows you to click on the address or phone number. This will automatically open Whitepages.com. Use Whitepages.com to search for the address to see who is listed to reside at that address, or who has that phone based on public record. This way if 2 different people with different phones are at the same address, you might be able to see if they are actually in different apartment numbers, for example.
You should keep up on your merge duplicates on a regular basis, but the system will run a process nightly which will drop any duplicate pairs that are over 1 year old, and let the system re-identify them if they are still a potential duplicate. If any of the details that originally made them a potential duplicate have now changed, they will no longer appear, since they are no longer a potential duplicate.
Things that can prevent records from appearing on the merge screen:
- The system doesn't see them as a match, meaning not an exact match of phone, or address, etc. You may be able to adjust one of the records to make them an exact match.
- At some point they appeared on the merge screen and someone chose "don't merge". So the system is now ignoring them. To clear this ignore, make a change to one of the records address or phone, then change it back to match. Then the system should detect them as a potential dupe again.
- If the records are in a household relationship with one another they will not appear on the merge screen. To clear this, remove the household relationship first and then click the recheck for duplicates button.
- If one of the pairs is linked to an organization record it may prevent merging. You may need to remove them from the org, then re-add them after merging.
- If you use the volunteer module and both patrons have the same volunteer "Work Type" it will fail merging. You can delete the work types from one of the patrons and it should then work.
NOTE: You can search for a specific name in the search field, or use the alpha links to jump directly to merge record matches with a last name beginning with that letter.
How the Dupe Check and Merges Process works:
The system runs a comparison processing through the database every 6 minutes to look for potential duplicate records. If there are a very large number of records that have not been checked recently, it may take several of these cycles to process them all.
The dupe check process first checks for an exact match, which means the first and last names, address (including address 1, city and state), and phone (home and cell are compared) all are matched. Exact match will also take into acct blank phone fields, so phone on one record and blank phone on another record is a non-match, but 2 blank phone records will be considered a match. In the event of an exact match the patron records are merged automatically.
Next the dupe check process looks for partial matches. This is where one or two of the above 3 pieces match, but others do not. In these cases the pair is presented on the merges screen showing what piece matched. This may be Name, Phone, or Address. From here the user can decide if they want to merge them, keeping either record 1 or 2 as the base record details to keep, make them members of the same household (same address for purposes of mailing) or not merge them at all.
Note that if a user changes details on a patron record that is currently presented on the merges screen, it will force that record to be retested for dupe and it may then change the details on the merges screen.
You can also force a recheck of the merges screen on an updated patron record by looking up that patron and clicking the "recheck for duplicates" button. The system will then recheck any duplicate pairs that include that patron and then let you know if they are still identified as a potential duplicate by taking you to the merges screen.
Note that address 2 field is not used in the dupe check comparison process. Here's why:
- The address 1 field is standardized by the system to postal standards, such as converting "street" to "St", and "Avenue" to "Ave" etc. So this enables effective duplicate checking since we know that things will be standardized after patron or admin entry. If this was not the case many many duplicates would not be found.
- Address 2 field on the other hand is subjective. One person might right "Unit2" another "Unit 2" another "Apt 2" another "#2", etc. So there's no effective way to compare on these. Instead we display them to the user on the merges screen so they can make the decision to merge or not.
How Merges are handled:
When two records are merged, the record that is kept as the primary will retain its details and will have added to it the details that it lacks but were included in the other record. Such as if both have an address, but the subordinate record includes address2 field, that will now become part of the address on the merged record.
When automatic merge happens, the primary record will be the first one identified, and will be presented as 'person 1' on the merges screen. The details from 'person 2' will be merged into person 1.
When manually merging, the primary record will be whichever one the user selected to be kept, which might be person 1 or person 2 on the screen.
Notes Fields: Notes fields will be combined adding the subordinate records notes to the primary records notes.
Entered Date: The earlier 'Entered' date of the 2 records will be retained.
Patron ID#: Whichever record is the "kept" record will be the patron ID that is retained in the merge. For automatic merges this will be whichever record was most recently entered or edited.
Address Fields: For the fields 'address 1', 'address 2', 'city', 'state', 'zip', 'country' if defined in the primary record that is retained. If not defined for primary record the value from subordinate is retained.
Email addresses: All email addresses from both records are retained. If both records have an email then the email marked as primary on the primary record is retained. Otherwise it will come from the subordinate record.
Order History: All order history is merged together and retained. The records coming from the subordinate account are now changed to reflect the primary records ID. This includes tickets, retail, gift certificates, passes, volunteer records, enrollment records.