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Find duplicate users and merge

Anthony Constantino
suggested this on January 31, 2010 17:17

It'd be really impressive if Zendesk let us find duplicate users and automate merging them.  Gmail just did this and it made cleaning my address book a breeze.  

 

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Jake Holman
Product Manager

Hi Anthony,

I assume this would be done on Users with the same name? Pretty dangerous with accounts of 1,000+ Users since the chance of multiple same names approaches 1.

Jake Holman
Zendesk

February 02, 2010 06:00
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Anthony Constantino

I agree, it could be dangerous.  I think a nice step forward would be to make it faster to merge duplicates 1 at  a time.  I can't remember, but I think Highrise has a decent UI for doing this.  Basically,

  1. Pick a user
  2. On the users page there would be a link to "merge with another user"
  3. Click that link and enter the other user. 
  4. Click done

Something like that.  I think you're right about fully automated merging.  There isn't enough info in ZD to properly identify dupes and automatically merge them.  

February 02, 2010 06:17
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Johnny Cussen
lonelyplanethelp

+1

February 03, 2010 21:17
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Jake Holman
Product Manager

Hey Anthony,

Thanks for the example (I detect a hint of 37signal fanboi in you!), we'll certainly give it some thought - we're aware of the requirement for the merging of users.

Jake Holman
Zendesk

February 09, 2010 15:46
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Anthony Constantino

Well, I figured since you're the "37signals of help desks" my example would help.

http://blog.zendesk.com/blog/2008/06/37signals-for-h.html

February 09, 2010 16:01
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Jake Holman
Product Manager

Just messing with ya Anthony ;)

February 09, 2010 16:06
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John Reilly
trms

I'll throw a +1 in this as well. Here's the somewhat convoluted situation we have: Anyone can send us emails at support@ourcompany.com, and ZD tickets are created from that email. This works great.

We wrote a SSO app that takes advantage of ZD's remote authentication and API features. Our customers can sign up and log into our site, and check the status of their tickets that were created from our site, or from emails they sent in. This also works great.

But... I've seen several instances of customers signing up to our SSO app using one email address (user@work.com), and then sending in email tickets from a different email address (user@home.com). From ZD's perspective, these are different users because the email addresses are different. But our user gets confused, because they only see _some_ of their tickets in our SSO app (which is only listing the user@work.com tickets).

Now that ZD can assign multiple email addresses to a single user, this problem is partially solved. But, I can't add the user's home email to the account associated with their work email, because the home email address "is already in use." I basically have to find the "home" account, reassign all the tickets to the "work" user, then delete the "home" user, and THEN add the home email to the work user. Yow! In this instance, a "merge users" feature (that also combines tickets) would save our support team a ton of time. :)

I hope this is somewhat helpful when discussing such a feature. Let me know if this doesn't make sense... It's tricky to describe. :)

Thanks!

-John

February 11, 2010 21:56
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John Reilly
trms
Oh man, somehow all of my line breaks were removed from my comment. Here's a more readable version: http://gist.github.com/302347
February 11, 2010 21:58
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Jake Holman
Product Manager

Alrighty, this is something we do actually want to do. Right now, though, there's some things we really need to do before implementing this side-feature.

I have no ETA at the moment.

Jake Holman
Zendesk

February 24, 2010 15:32
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Mats Schwieger
schwieger

Is there an interim work-around or solution to this?

 

Cheers

Mats

March 31, 2010 02:36
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Corey Ganser
mindtouch

I definitely like to see this also.  The email alias is a step towards it, now just need to merge the accounts  so that tickets aren't lost

April 15, 2010 13:27
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Sergey Lukerin
itdevelopers

When user sending email from personal address, it would be useful to have some option to merge this newly created user with existing user (with corporate email).

To discuss: Should user verify his personal address? Should user get notification about merge (like "your personal email just added to your account, please confirm it")?

April 27, 2010 11:37
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pk

+1

May 04, 2010 11:53
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Olly

+1

We find that quite a lot of users end up submitting tickets via both their business email and their personal email.  Being able to merge these would be beneficial for all of us I think.

May 17, 2010 04:39
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Robert Tarrall
neighborhoodlink

+1.

To add to Anthony's post of Feb-02 2010 06:17 - for us, this would ideally start from the ticket view.  We see a ticket that should belong to an existing user, but was submitted from a new email address, we would like to be able to merge this into the existing user's record in one step, and doing that from the ticket view's "edit requester" function would be where we'd logically expect to find this.

It's sorta possible now: ticket comes in from home email address when we have this user's work email already in the system.  "Edit requester" on the new ticket and change it to the work address.  Then delete the new user.  Then add the home email address to the user associated with the work address.

Doesn't work right though.  Replies to this ticket now go to the work address.  Guess we could add the home address as a CC but that's awkward.  Also, user widget in ticket view disappears. 

May 19, 2010 07:08
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Alan Conroy
Project CS Beta Testers

Hi Guys,

With the twitter integration, we get duplicate twitter accounts accounts and email accounts, so we need to this merge soon

 

Alan

July 13, 2010 09:44
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Andy Thorpe

I'm having the same problem John but with Twitter Ids! Our marketing guy favourite support queries we get via twitter and a new user is created, obviously we don't have anyone's twitter ID. So then we have scour the system for the person it might be and once we've found that we have reassign the ticket, delete the old user and and add the twitterID to the old user - or something like that.

It's a bit of a barrier to the twitter integration too - which I love the idea of by the way :-)

July 15, 2010 06:39
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Suzanne Burnett
micropower

+1, would even just love a workaround please.

July 15, 2010 18:37
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Jake Holman
Product Manager

We're likely going to be a little longer with this. The way we currently handle people, profiles and identities isn't what we'd like it to be, so we'll be making improvement to this model, which will merging many times more efficient and easier for you guys. More details later.

July 19, 2010 06:37
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Adam Sentz

This is probably our biggest pain point with ZD right now. Users are always forwarding one email address to another - so they create a ticket with one and respond with another resulting in two user accounts for the same person and a suspended ticket. The only way to fix it now is to delete the bad user and add the email to the good one, but you can't delete the person until the ticket is closed so you have to remind yourself to do it later - it's just a mess.

July 20, 2010 10:50
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John Poyser
recombo

i am also battling this as well & I am worried about losing tickets or info because my customers often have multiple email domains in use & variations on the email addresses they use.  Please let us have a "Merge People/user" the same what you let us Merge Tickets.

July 22, 2010 13:57
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Jeff Moyer
flightstats

+1

July 23, 2010 09:48
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Adam Wulf
herefilefile

i love that this feature is planned! i run into this problem all of the time. many thanks for making this a priority!

August 23, 2010 21:32
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Mads Skovbjerg Paldam

I hereby second the motion for individual user merging. But to avoid being mistaken for a brainwashed 37S fanboy, I will add that I think there's quite a lot of features from ZenDesk that the 37S people need to add to their products... 

September 02, 2010 06:58
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Aron Bert

+1

October 22, 2010 20:05
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Jay Hogg
getaroom

+1

I just spent the last 30 minutes releasing suspended tickets and merging a few users.

November 01, 2010 09:27
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Jake Holman
Product Manager

This is being worked on at the moment, no schedule for release though.

November 02, 2010 12:24
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Jason Wood

Are we close though? A 2010 release?

November 12, 2010 18:21
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Jake Holman
Product Manager

Yup.

November 12, 2010 18:22
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Nick Jackson
unilincoln

Just another +1, as we're trying to deal with students who email us from their uni accounts (which are added over SSO/API), home accounts (which are *sometimes* added) and Twitter.

On a side note, will merging be possible over the API?

November 22, 2010 02:12
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scott waddell

Just signed up for Zendesk trial.   As with others on this board many of our clients email us support issues from different email addresses.  The ability to tie all these addresses to the same account is a must have in our case.  Glad to hear your working on it

November 29, 2010 07:12
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Arthur Jordan

+1

End of 2010 fast approaching, hope to see this soon! Thanks guys.

December 02, 2010 12:48
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Jake Holman
Product Manager

Part one should be going out today (but it's part two that's the most exciting part, which will follow soon).

December 02, 2010 13:41
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Andy Thorpe

woohooo, thanks Jake.

this is one thing that's stopping us from using the twitter integration and we've still got a few duplicate users, this will make everything sooo much more efficient- and profile-able!

love your work!

December 03, 2010 06:25
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Rosalie Wodecki

This came in this morning and I LOVE it!  Happy Monday, Rosalie.

Love my Zendesk, all bloody right.

December 12, 2010 15:04
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John Fleming
zavee

Zake, how do we access what is currently available?

December 22, 2010 13:14
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Jake Holman
Product Manager

@John: Interesting variation on my name! You can merge users by either going to their profile or looking at a ticket. Near their name, there should be a "merge" link, take it from there!

December 30, 2010 05:18
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John Fleming
zavee

Hi, Jake. Sorry.  Before holiday confusion.   I looked at the profile. Don't see a merge link? See example from our Zendesk.  A, I looking in the wrong place?

 

Thanks 

December 30, 2010 10:10
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Alan Pinstein
tourbuzz

So I also couldn't see the merge link. I was told that it's because I have remote auth enabled and it "gets tricky" in that case.


Well, I still need it. I turned on remote auth for SSO, but then I had to enable "create users from emails" since my customers often have multiple email addresses and I didn't think it was appropriate to bounce their support requests due to coming from an unknown email. I may change my mind but...


For now can't you enable the new merge feature for those of us with remote_auth enabled? To simplify it, you should only allow the "winner" of a merge on an account with remote_auth to be one with an external_id. And conversely if you want to disallow merging if the "losing" contact has an external_id that'd be great.

So it seems when you're on a contact and choose "Merge User", the "current" user will be the "loser".

So the rules for merging contacts seem like they should be:

If current(loser).external_id != null, disallow merging

If current(loser).external_id = null, allow picking of a "winner" (can be any contact)


Seems like that would simplify things a lot on your end and make my life much easier.

January 03, 2011 15:24
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Nick Jackson
unilincoln

I'm with Alan on this one, we'd love to be able to merge non-external ID users (ie those with external addresses) into our RA users (ie those with internal addresses). I agree we shouldn't be able to put an RA user on the losing side, but surely if they're the winner then it should be possible?

January 03, 2011 15:43
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Jake Holman
Product Manager

Hi guys. Apologies, I was not aware of the remote authentication limitation. However, it's not as simple as Alan is suggesting. To even get user merge in its simplest form we had to completely refactor parts of our user model, which is never easy.

I can't comment on when the remote authentication limitation might be resolved, but I wanted to clear up the myth of it being easy or simple :)

January 04, 2011 04:05
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scott waddell

Jake

We are just in the process of setting up RA.  Please confirm if this message means that after we initialize RA we will no longer have the ability to merge users?

Scott

January 04, 2011 05:49
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Alan Pinstein
tourbuzz

The lack of ability to merge users with RA enabled is starting to be a big problem.

Customers are emailing from multiple email accounts and they are getting suspended due to being on the wrong user for the ticket or due to the user being unverified. It is making us look sloppy and disorganized...


Has there been any progress on this issue? What is the point of RA if you can't administer it effectively? 

January 24, 2011 20:28
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Jerry Goure
scribd

We (Scribd) use remote authentication as well and would benefit tremendously from being able to merge users. So count us among the interested, please. :)

January 27, 2011 12:49
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Babul Mukherjee
montopolis

We do not have Remote Authentication turned on yet the Merge link is no where to be found.  Help!  

February 01, 2011 13:56
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Dave Leichtman
salsasupport

Does anyone know, can remote auth be easily disabled and re-enabled in order to merge users? I'd like to try that, but I'm really afraid of 1) breaking something, and 2) not being able to re-enable it properly.

February 23, 2011 10:29
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Alan Pinstein
tourbuzz

Dave - I'd like to know that as well. Maybe it could be tried in a sandbox? I don't know how sandboxed it actually is. Seems that disabling to merge would work, but I have no idea.

I still don't buy why it's so different for RA -- seems that they could just simplify it to only allow merging into an account with an external_id.

February 23, 2011 10:58
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Dave Leichtman
salsasupport

See, that's the thing. Because it's been said on this thread that it's "more complicated than that," it makes me think that it won't work to disable RA, merge account, and re-enable. Or that it might cause some serious issue.

Jake or someone at ZD, I'd love an official opinion on this. It's a growing issue for us for all of the reasons outlined by multiple people above.

February 23, 2011 11:05
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Dave Leichtman
salsasupport

So, I finally pulled the trigger after several "are you absolutely sure" tickets with ZD Support (I heart ZD Support FWIW). It was trivial. You can turn off RA, merge accounts, and then turn it back on. Total time, 15 seconds.

But it begs the question - If I could do it that easily, why can't you just merge accounts with RA turned on?

March 19, 2011 12:08
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Alan Pinstein
tourbuzz

+1 to that, Dave L.

BTW, I learned something this week that was very insightful and related. 

I realized that a decent percentage of my "duplicate" users were being created when I recovered tickets that had been suspended due to the customer responding from a 2nd email account. I had been recovering these tickets from the list view, which was basically adding that email as a *new user* and letting the new user respond to that ticket as well.


What I learned is that if you drill down into the suspended ticket you can recover the email under the ticket's original requestor; selecting this will also add the alternate email address to the contact record as a verified address.

This saves a ton of time and will be useful even after they have RA+merge available, because it eliminates the need to even do the merge for a lot of cases.

March 19, 2011 20:03
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Mark Haase

What is the rationale behind not being able to merge unverified users?? Most of our users don't verify (I don't blame them... why both clicking an extra link? What reward do they get?) and therefore cannot be merged when they use multiple accounts.

Is there a way for an admin to mark an address as verified? Our customers come from a few organizations where we know the e-mail account naming scheme, so it's fairly easy to verify if the address is right or not based on the person's name.

June 07, 2011 11:50
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Mark Haase

UPDATE: Nevermind, I found a place to verify an address... although it's odd to me that there seems to be a separate "view" page and "edit page for user accounts, but the edit page is not linked to the view page? How do I get from one to the other?

June 07, 2011 11:58
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Nick Jackson
unilincoln

Has any progress been made on merging users with RA enabled? We're wary of our September user intake and the inevitable flood of home email addresses and Twitter creating hundreds of new users which we can't then merge back to 'official' RA users without turning off SSO.

June 16, 2011 03:47
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Matthew Ahern
bombbomb

Add my 2 cents and vote for this capability. Merging could be done by searching the name and providing check boxes which would choose which records to be merged. Another scneario is that I tried adding an additional email address to a user account which notified me that the email address was already taken. An option would be to choose to merge them at that time as well. Of course I get the difficulty of retooling a product to handle this type of request and as you mentioned, your "user model" would require reworking.

Merging becomes very important when your only means of communicating with someone is via email and the email associated with a ticket does not get verified. Yet when the user has another email address which has been verified but is not associated with the ticket, then my only option is to create a new ticket for them with this other ID.

June 24, 2011 10:21
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Gabriel Grant
dotcloud

Bumpity-bump...we were about to turn on RA specifically to make merging users easier, but from this discussion it sounds like enabling RA will make merging impossible.

@Jake Any official update on this in the past 14-ish months?

February 04, 2012 15:56
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Alan Pinstein
tourbuzz

I am one of the people that originally asked about this. It seems that they added support for it a while back. You can merge any user *without* an external id, so that works out great. It's kinda hidden. You cannot merge from the "edit user" page. You have to click on the name in the list view (rather than edit) to see the details instead, and under the "Action" menu there is a merge option. From there it works nicely.

February 04, 2012 16:03
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Dave Leichtman
salsasupport

Gabriel, they sneaked this in a few releases ago. You can now merge users with RA on.

February 04, 2012 16:05
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