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by | Dec 22, 2022 | Act CRM Software Fundamentals

Tables for Act.  What are tables for Act?

Hey, good morning everyone. This is Tony Holowitz and I want to talk to you about something called tables. What are tables for Act CRM? Well, first of all, I've been working with Act a long time and it's very rare when I've worked with anyone that's using tables. First of all, I have always felt that the word tables to describe this tool is really an awful name. And a lot of the times, people that talk about tables in Act assume that you know what they are. So to oversimplify this, there is data held inside of Act and they're held in tables. So without going into detail, because I just don't think you need the detail, tables are just a way to hold data. So sometimes as an Act user, if you enter a lot of data in Act, and I'll give you a couple examples. I have a client that has created more than 1000 custom fields in Act, 1000.

(00:59): They've gone in and created. So when you create a field, you have to then go in and add it to the Act layout so you can see that field to enter data into that field. So a lot of times what happens is I'll be working with people that have a lot of data in Act, and if we had caught them at the beginning or if they had had the knowledge of this, what we would've suggested is don't put that data, all that data and Act the way it's designed as you know it, but put it in something called tables. So what are tables? Why do you maybe want to know about tables? Well, this is the thing. Tables are designed for people that enter a lot of information, or if you find there are limitations with an Act the way it holds data and works with data, then you might wanna explore tables.

(01:48): And I think the best way I can describe tables to you is to use a fairly simple example that I use all the time. So let's imagine for a moment that you're the owner of an ice cream store and your goal is to track when your customers come in, what kind of ice cream they buy. You want to know a little bit more information about that. So the first thing I wanna suggest is this. If you use QuickBooks as your accounting software and you're tracking the ice cream, a lot of the data you want could potentially be in QuickBooks. Therefore, tables aren't necessary because a lot of the data is held there. You just have to have access to that data within Act. And there are ways to do that. But this isn't about QuickBooks, but I just wanted to say that if you use QuickBooks and you're trying to find data, there are ways to do that.

(02:40): Setting QuickBooks aside for a minute, again, going back to the ice cream store. So you have a customer that comes in and you want to track four things, just four things when they come in. You wanna track the kind of ice cream they got, the flavor, the choices of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. You wanna know, did they have it in a cup or on a cone. Number three, you wanna know what the topping was, what kind of topping did they have? If any, strawberry, marshmallow or chocolate fudge, which of those three toppings? And the fourth thing is, did they have sprinkles on the ice cream? Did they have chocolate? Did they have strawberry? Maybe they had some kind of Oreo sprinkles, something of that type. And you wanna track that. So on the surface, the way Act works is that's pretty simple. You can go in and create a field called flavor.

(03:30): You can go in another field called Cup or Cone, another one topping, and the fourth field would be Sprinkles. So you take those four fields and you'd enter them Act. And then once you enter 'em, Act as a field, a custom field, you then have to put 'em in the layout so you have a place to put that information when they come in. But this is where it starts to get a little tricky. The way Act is designed is if they come in a second time, they come to your store to visit for another ice cream. Well, you've gotta create four more fields for visit number two. So if you think of it this way, visit one with all the flavor, the cup cone topping, sprinkles, visit two, and now all of a sudden you're creating four more fields to hold that information. So what Act isn't designed for is to hold information where things keep happening, like a visit to an ice cream store.

(04:27): So for each visit, you need four fields. If they come in a hundred times, you need 400 fields. Not only do you need those fields, you need to insert 'em into the Act layout so you can gain access to them. So that's where tables come into play. So what is a table? The best way to think of a table is think about a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. And let's say across the top of that spreadsheet, you had flavor, copper cone topping and sprinkles. And when that client comes in, you open up their spreadsheet and you record what they had. Well, tables are very similar to that. When you use Act, you can set up a table. And table is software you have to purchase is really affordable. It's about $70 a year. And once you purchase that software, you can build what's called the table. Again, it's a terrible name.

(05:18): I hate the name, I hate the description of it because people in our industry use that term like you know what it is, and most people don't. They've never even heard of it. But think of it like Excel, like data in your app contact. So someone comes into your store, you open up their contact and Act, you click on a little button and a form pops up like a web form almost, where it's gonna ask you, okay, what flavor did they get today? Was it a cup or a cone? What kind of topping did they have? Sprinkles? And once you put all that information in, you hit save and you're done. They come in a second time, you click on the icon third time and you keep repeating it. So now you have historic data of everything that customer bought from you, right in their contact.

(06:08): So the contact has all that information. So if you wanna run a report or see the what they've bought, like how many times did they get chocolate with marshmallow, you can narrow it down and filter it to get that information. But this is where tables gets really interesting, in my opinion. When you have tables, you can narrow it down for that particular contact. But let's say you have a thousand customers in Act, you also have the ability, because you've been keeping this data, you also have the ability to narrow that data down, not just for one contact, but for all 1000 contacts. So if you wanted to know in those 1000 contacts, how many people ordered chocolate ice cream during their visit, how many people got sprinkles that were Oreo? How many people got strawberry ice cream or vanilla? You can break it down. So this is the thing about tables, it's a better way of data entry if you enter a lot of data, having stated that, the dilemma you face is chances are you didn't know about this and you spent a lot of time and energy and resources, most time and energy on setting up Act to hold all this data.

(07:24): Well, there's some good news. I'm a partner with a company called Keystroke, and we've got a gentleman there by the name Michael Kadlub, who's a tables expert. He's really good with tables. We have a scoping program. So what happens if you have all this data and you say, wow, I wish I had known about tables years ago. Well, we can go in and take a look at your setup. Michael can then give you a recommendation on what's involved in taking your current data and converting it to tables. So he has the ability to look at that and he has great knowledge of this and how to help you build the form and get the most out of tables. There's other things you can do with tables as well. You could have information reports, things of that nature come out of tables as well. So at the end of the day, this is the thing, if you're doing the things I described, creating tons of fields, you're trying to understand what your customers have been doing.

(08:19): If you're trying to understand, you know, what they bought, what they ordered, what they've done in the past, and you have tons of fields and it's awkward to find them and track them tables in converting your data to tables is something you should really consider. And although there's an expense to that, there's time and setup involved. I think it's measurable because you can now see all your data in a different way. You might find the vanilla ice cream doesn't sell very well, so maybe you need to bring in a third ice cream flavor. You know, you don't know.

(08:54): What you don't know until you get in and start looking at the data you wanna make. Act easy to work with. And again, a lot of times when I see people using a lot of data, I recognize or see that if we had known or if you had known about this at the beginning, it would've been an obvious suggestion to use tables instead of all those fields. So if this sounds like you or if you wanna learn more about tables, feel free to reach out to me, then I can give you a better sense of how they work and how you can use them for your business. Thank you everyone. This little podcast went a little longer than I'd like to run, but it's sort of a good thing to know about. And now you have a better sense of tables. If you have a lot of data or are expecting to enter a lot of data, data, let's take a look at tables for you. Thank you so very much. You have a great day. Bye now.

Content Edited for Clarity