The Labor Education and Research Project (popularly referred to as Labor Notes) serves as the voice of union activists in the labor movement. Since 1979, Labor Notes has promoted grassroots organization to empower union workers in transforming the labor system.

Through an online store, the organization offers magazine subscriptions, handbooks, and registration for conferences and workshops.

Previously, order information was manually entered into the organization's Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database. Besides creating significant overhead for Labor Notes staff, human error often caused duplicate customer entries.

Labor Notes wanted to reduce the amount of manual data entry and duplicate customer accounts, and to automate as much order fulfillment as possible.

We created an automated workflow to export customer information from the order form into Salesforce, a powerful online CRM tool used by thousands of companies and organizations. The end result is a simplified business process for managing subscribers and contacts.

We have database/ecommerce integration we could have only dreamed up. Our business manager can spend far more of her time filling orders and working with customers, rather than churning through piles of data-entry.
Mark Brenner, Director, Labor Notes

Challenges

Previously, each online order was manually entered by Labor Notes’ business manager into an archaic custom database.

Because a majority of the orders come from repeat customers, the automated workflow required robust deduplication and contact matching.

Challenges with automating their business process included:

  • Special criteria for how order data is handled and stored.
  • Matching integration to desired workflow scenarios.
  • Prevent duplicate contact entries in database for repeat customers.

Solutions

Drupal and Salesforce are powerful tools on their own. When properly synced, they can seamlessly exchange information.

However, by default, they do not natively exchange data. Our extensive experience with Drupal’s Salesforce Suite and Salesforce’s API allows us to bridge the gap and integrate an array of Drupal modules and Salesforce.

Drupal-Salesforce Sync

Syncing Drupal and Salesforce performs automated exports of order information from the Labor Notes Drupal website to their Salesforce account.

Order information is exported based on a complex set of rules that can create new contacts or update existing contact information.

The automated export removes the need for Labor Notes staff to manually enter or manipulate information in order fit their customer information storage requirements.

Custom workflow rules

On the Labor Notes website, users can sign up for the weekly email newsletter, subscribe to the monthly printed magazine, register for a workshop or conference, make a donation, or purchase Labor Notes merchandise.

There are more than 20 scenarios for how customer data could be collected on the Labor Notes website.

We worked closely with Labor Notes to identify these scenarios and create workflow rules to manage subscriptions, orders and donations.

With these workflow rules in place, Labor Notes can handle an increased volume without the extra manual work to organize and process information.

Contact matching

Labor Notes needed a way for returning customer information to match existing customer contacts in Salesforce. Contact matching plays a vital role in preventing duplicate contacts in the database.

Existing contacts in the database match based on partial sets of information received from an order (such as name, address and zip code, and phone number).

In addition to customer account matching, the names of labor unions and organizations needed to be automatically and reliably matched.

Previously, users frequently entering this information provided differing titles for their affiliated organizations. Abbreviations, nicknames and misspellings made it difficult for Labor Notes to use the information in a meaningful way.

Reduced down from 8 to 1

To streamline organization identification, the Union/Organization field now provides a list of organizations with official titles to choose from. When users are typing, an autofill dropdown shows suggestions of organization names for users to choose from.

Outcomes & Results

We developed a system for exporting order information from the Labor Notes’ Drupal website to their Salesforce CRM.

Our work significantly cut down the amount of manual work the Labor Notes staff needs to keep up with the subscriptions and orders received through their website.

The end result is improved business processes for Labor Notes in managing subscribers and contacts.

We’ve had a notable uptick in orders since the integration, and our business manager is still able to handle the volume with her data-entry time cut so dramatically!
Mark Brenner, Director, Labor Notes