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Salesforce has great features that allow you to prevent duplicate records from being added. Using a combination of Duplicate Rules and Matching Rules, you can prevent duplicates from being added and also merge existing duplicate records that exist.

However, you can occasionally run into the issue where you know of Accounts or Contacts that are in-fact duplicates but they don’t really meet the criteria of any existing Matching Rules.

This is an issue that has plagued Salesforce Administrators for many years. There are some workarounds. You can:

a. Rename one of the Accounts or Contacts so it matches the one to be merged with based on the Matching Rule. However, this can be confusing as you are then unsure which record should be kept. It also causes issues with integrations with other systems.

OR

b. Create a matching rule that meets the match criteria of both records, however, this is not trivial either.

As you can see, neither workaround is straightforward! There’s got to be a better out of the box way to do this.

Well, there is…and it utilizes a standard object called Duplicate Record Sets. In this example, I’m going to merge 2 contacts: Arthur Brodsky and Ashley Knitter.

(I have intentionally chosen very different names to elucidate the example!)

There’s a little bit of one-time setup involved, but once you have these steps done, it’s very easy!

Here’s a Step by Step How

One Time Setup:

  1. Make sure you have at least one custom Duplicate Rule defined. (Setup → Duplicate Rules in the Quick Find box).Unfortunately, the standard rules don’t work for this process. It really doesn’t matter what this custom duplicate rule does, we just need to associate one as it’s a required field for a Duplicate Record Set.
  2. Bring up the App Launcher and click on Duplicate Record Sets.
  3. Now click on the New button to add a new Duplicate Record Set.
  4. Select any custom Duplicate Rule you’ve defined (it does not matter which one).
  5. Click Save.

Merging Records

The hard part’s done! Now here’s what you do each time you want to merge any unrelated records.

  1. Click on the Duplicate Record Set you just created and click on the Related tab.
  2. On the Duplicate Record Items related list click on New.
  3. Now select the first Account or Contact you want to merge and click Save & New.
  4. Now similarly add the second Account or Contact you want to merge and click Save.
  5. And now click the Compare and Merge button.

    Note: if the Compare and Merge button is missing, you may need to edit the page layout for “Duplicate Record Set Layout” and remove some of the existing Standard Buttons (you won’t need them anyway). Lightning only shows a limited number of buttons so typically you want to make sure it’s one of the first three buttons.

  6. You will now be presented with the familiar Salesforce Duplicate Merge screen. Select the records to merge.

    Note: you can choose to merge up to 3 records at once.

  7. Click Next.
  8. Select record information you want to merge and click Next.
  9. Confirm your merge and once you’ve completed your merge you can remove the surviving contact from the Duplicate Record Items related list, you won’t need it anymore.

    Note: You can now re-use this Duplicate Record Set you created to associate additional records that you want to be merged. You don’t need to go through the entire setup process again, just follow the steps listed above for Merging Records.

Additional Note about Multiple Objects: You’ll notice that you are able to associate Accounts, Contacts, Leads and even some custom objects to the Duplicate Record Items list. However, it’s important to note that Salesforce looks at the first record in the list (based on the auto-generated Duplicate Record Item Name) to determine what type of object merge you are conducting.

For example, if you add 1 Contact followed by 2 Accounts to the duplicate record item list, it will assume that you want to merge contacts and will not let you merge accounts. To merge the accounts, you would need to remove the contact from the duplicate record item list.

Hope this tip helps you with your merges. If you need additional help with managing and deduplicating your Salesforce data, contact our team, we can help!