Best practice naming conventions for your calls/meetings - what do you do?

When asked to review a customer's usage of CRM, I often start with the basics: how is activity management carried out? Usually, there are clues there as to whether emails/calendars are integrated with CRM, or whether the mobile app is in use to log calls automatically. But something I find most fascinating is how Call / Meeting records are actually named.

For example, check out the blue hyperlinks in this screenshot:

In this example, most Calls / Meetings there is a mix of things that have occurred ("left a message") AND things that are planned ("Review needs") - regardless of status. I know this is demo data - but plenty of live CRMs look like this. Maybe even yours does. Another classic one is the default subjects from things like a mobile app - imagine loading a customer record and seeing the following:

Clearly, this doesn't really help anyone figure out what is going on (..and who'd want to call Alex so many times anyhow!?).... yet this happens so often.

Is there a better way?

Someone should be able to figure out the status of this customer/deal quickly, without even needing to use those handy preview icons. To do that, the names of Calls / Meetings need to be meaningful / clear enough to read and process with ease. No essays, just short phrases. I'd suggest considering the following:

  • When a Call/Meeting is planned, make the subject of that activity a description of what you are trying to achieve, e.g. a planned call record called "Book demo and identify audience" is super clear. Nobody needs to click into the Call record to read your actual call plan - they can figure it out just from the subject.
  • When the activity has been held, update the subject to now reflect the one line summary of what occurred, e.g. a held meeting record called "Did demo, secured tech approval" is a great summary of status, and while some people may still want to click into the record to see more, many will not need to.
  • If an activity is cancelled (e.g. you attempted a call, they weren't available, so you left a voicemail), consider using acronyms consistently to make it easier to pick up the status. There is no real difference between "LVM" and "LM" - what is more important is that everyone uses the same shorthand so it is easier for everyone to know what they are looking at. Consider using dropdowns to help enforce this.

What does this look like in practice?

It may not be perfect, but it works for me!

Those are a few ideas to try - so my question is: what have you found is a good practice for how to name the Calls / Meetings? Any particularly good examples / approaches? Or feedback on the above?

  • (..and who'd want to call Alex so many times anyhow!?)

    Couldn't agree more! Laughing

    This is great ! I know I'm sometimes guilty of non-descript subject names (e.g. "SugarClub Updates"), so this is a great reminder of the power of good organization and the ability to update after-the-fact. Even better that you're suggesting programmatic ways to help enforce good practices for those of us that sometimes need that nudge. Great tip, keep them coming!

    SugarCRM | Sr. Community Manager

  • Fully agree on these principles. For many years now, one of the first set of customisations are to add 2 dropdowns to the Calls and Meetings:
    - Reason for Call - Call Outcome
    - Reason for Meeting - Meeting Outcome
    These prove most useful for things like automating the Subject (i.e. Product Demo+date/time or other combinations), reports, workflows triggered by the outcomes.

    Hope that helps.

    CRM Business Consultant

  • really great tips there on using dropdowns to help automate the format/syntax of the subject field - SugarLogic can be so helpful in allowing a business to have consistency in how these fields are set. Thank you for sharing!

  • Completely agree. 
    we will include this as part of our end user trainings. 

  • Hello Colleagues,

    There is one more aspect how to get past activities prepared for others to observe them really fast, which could be useful for saving time 

    Consider how the readers actually read historical activities and what they would like to get from the call or meeting record held by teammates.
    That is not just about the description or subject but other activity fields that are of use in many cases, otherwise they would never be provided in a record, wouldn't they?

    Because as you now, the particular call or meeting held is just a piece of the puzzle
    And there are many ones recent activities and behaviors observed that reader is trying to compile into a full picture of relationships - that is the only reason why readers spend time on going through the list of recent activities per target record

    From this perspective, the purpose is to deliver better comfort and enhance UX for history readers
    But it does not alwayse presuppose additional manual work for user that records an activity.

    If to discuss with readers what they actually like to get fast, while going through the timeline of activities, what is really key they are trying to get from Sugar per particular target record, then it is possible to define logical key events that implements readers expectations and transform physical record of meeting or call, etc into the ready-to-consume logical conclusion collected on the TimeLine in Sugar - saving readers time and enhancing user experience

    As you may know this common for many CRMs approach is implemented with Event Management Suite, available for Sugar subscribers

    All the best,
    Dmytro

  • Is it a best practice to utilize a Task record to indicate that you need to schedule a meeting? In an effort to simplify our initial launch, we are using the Task record to record a lot of the actual Meeting information (e.g. Subject: Had Meeting With Don, more in Task Description), utilizing a Task Type of Meeting for example. I think there are plusses for us to reevaluate how we are storing information in what records, such as "Activities" or "Interactions" dashlets, but I need to help us get there. Thanks for any help!

  • Good question. 

    We've (recently) taken the habit of adding "To be scheduled" to the list of meeting statuses. Therefore you can extract the meetings that you need to organise. With a BPM, you can even automatically schedule the next meeting depending on conditions. 

    This avoids having to create and maintain 2 records: a task and a meeting. 

    On a side note, we're starting to get comments that tend towards merging calls, meetings and tasks in a single "activities" entity. This would reduce the clutter in the contact/accounts fields list of subpanels. 

    Damien Pochon

    CRM & Digital consultant @ ITS4U Group


  • We have similar thinking like minds Smile
    I do the same, just call it Unscheduled' but same use case.

    I prefer this rather than create a separate Task record, as it improves the UX in my opinion, only one record to track and open/update rather than 2 fdrom separate modules. 

    Also Damien, regarding merging activities, not sure how long you've used SugarCRM, but that is how it use to work and many of us have been asking to bring that method back.
    Feel free to vote for and promote the idea here:
    sugarclub.sugarcrm.com/.../merge-calls-and-meetings-into-one-module

    CRM Business Consultant

  • Hi

    Thanks for the link, I have upvoted your idea :)

    Damien Pochon

    CRM & Digital consultant @ ITS4U Group