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The Carers Centre provide trusted information, advice and support to people looking after their loved ones in Bath and North East Somerset.

Use this Guide if you would like to make it easier to record email contact with people you support in a database. By connecting Outlook and Salesforce you can get a clearer picture of those you help and their support needs. 

Steps to using Outlook and Salesforce to understand the people who use your service

Connecting different digital tools can help streamline your work, by:

  • Reducing the time your team spends copying information between systems.

  • Letting data flow automatically between the tools you use. This keeps everything accurate and up to date.

  • Keeping track of what things have already been done and what still needs to be done.

Before you set up a new integration, you should fully map out your current workflow. Do this in detail and include:

  • Every step of the process the people you support go through

  • Behind-the-scenes admin tasks your team does like logging in to systems and entering data

  • Any problems or pain points your team experiences

  • Each software tool involved at the different stages

You could make a map to visualise how your systems work together.

When you connect two digital tools, think about data protection laws like GDPR. Software integration can improve security and compliance. But it’s important to think about who can access what types of data in your organisation, and why.

As part of a discovery period with their team, The Carers Centre found many issues with how they recorded contact history with carers:

  • Staff wasted lots of time manually typing in contact notes and history.

  • Work was sometimes duplicated because information didn't carry over between systems.

  • The team couldn't easily get useful insights into carers from the system. They wanted this to help improve their service.

  • The lack of coordination meant carers were sometimes asked to provide the same information more than once. This was frustrating. Carers are typically under a lot of pressure, with little time available.

When you see the problems in your process, take time to research different tools and integrations that could help you improve your workflow. To help you choose which ones are best for you, think about:

  • How well different tools will connect, either using an API or an integration tool like Zapier

  • What your team already knows and likes using.

  • How many people will need to use the tools, i.e. how many licences you will need

  • Whether a new tool is clear and easy to use

  • If you will need a developer to help you set it up

  • If the tool is secure and private

  • What analytics data you will need

  • How much they cost - for example, subscriptions or developer support

You might like to use free trials or free plans to try them out first. 

You can also use NCVO's guide to choosing digital tools.

The Carers Centre already had a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database. But it no longer met their needs. They found that:

  • The CRM couldn't integrate with the new website platform they wanted to use. Without expensive development, the systems couldn't "talk" to each other at all.

  • It wasn’t very flexible, and couldn’t adapt over time as the organisation's needs changed.

They decided to replace their CRM, and chose Salesforce for 5 reasons:

  1. It could connect easily with their new website and content management system, unlike their old CRM.

  2. They needed an affordable solution, and Salesforce offers free licences for charities.

  3. The Salesforce back-end system is simple enough for their team to learn on their own without needing regular technical support. This keeps costs down long-term.

  4. Salesforce had all the features they were looking for to help them track contact with carers and offer a personalised service through their website.

  5. Their digital partner, who recommended Salesforce, shared their values and priorities. Building a good working partnership was critical.

The organisation uses Outlook for their emails. Their new Salesforce partner suggested that they use the Salesforce for Outlook plugin to help record their contact with carers more efficiently.

Install and connect your digital tools. Check everything is working the way you want it to at every step.

Show your colleagues how it is set up and how it works. Make sure they understand the new system, what to expect, and what they will need to do differently.

The Carers Centre installed the  Salesforce for Outlook plugin on their support team’s accounts. This added a small Salesforce icon in the ribbon of their Outlook programme in both desktop and web versions. The support team were shown how to use the new tool.

  1. When writing or reading an email, clicking the Salesforce icon searches for a contact record in Salesforce that matches the email address.

  2. If more than one record is available, you can select the correct one.

  3. You can also add attachments from the email to the record, along with the email's text.

  4. Clicking ‘log email’ adds a unique email address to the BCC field. That way, when the email is sent, a copy is also sent to Salesforce. It is then automatically saved under the linked contact record.

Now, when the support team look up a record in Salesforce, they can also see all relevant emails and attachments in one place. This helps them understand the person's situation. It gives them context for decision making and supporting that person.

They can also quickly find linked case records. For example, if the same carer contacted the centre with a different question. They can also see if a safeguarding issue has been flagged.

When your new process is up and running, make the most of the time you've saved. Try to think strategically about the service.

Use new data or insights that are now available to understand people and their needs.

Think about how you can continue improving and developing the service.

The integrated contact data has helped to improve the experience for carers who contact Carers Centre. They use some of the data  to target specific services at those who most need it.

The new system has also helped the digital team when they are selecting carers to invite to test their online services. For example, they can filter records based on things like service needs, contact history, and carer context.

Further information

We don't have a contact at Carers Centre for this Guide. However, you can read Carers Centre's other Guides:

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