Searching Your Data Every Way You Want
A database is only as valuable as it can rapidly and easily present you with the information you need. For example, if you want to find a specific company or a specific contact in a database, you need more choices than just the name to search on.
The name is a good start, of course, and finding a specific company or contact by name is easy. But how about when you are looking for a particular person and you can’t remember their last name? Well, that’s an example of what I mean. You had better have a way to search in the database on their first name, or their last name, or both.
If your database has hundreds, or thousands of entries in it, that’s far too many to look through one at a time. What we are talking about here is the ability to “filter” the data in the database. Filtering is what happens when you enter search criteria that the system uses to select only those items that actually match what you want. Here are some examples:
- If you specify that you want a list of contacts whose last name is “Smith”, you will get a list of all the contacts in the database with the last name of “Smith”. You won’t get any Browns or Clarks.
- But, imagine that you are advised by your email marketing service provider that one of your clients has unsubscribed from your newsletter. All you have, however, is the email address of the person who unsubscribed. You want to make a note of the fact for future reference, but you don’t know who this person is.
- If this is a common situation in your company, then the simple answer is to set up a search function that uses the contact’s email address as the criteria. Then, when you get an unsubscribe advice, you only need to enter the contact’s email into the database search function and it will find your unsubscribing contact instantly.
- Suppose you have a customer with multiple locations. If you enter the company name as the search criteria, you will get them all. Therefore, it would be good to also be able to limit the search to different locations. If you said you wanted the ABC Company in the city of Newcastle, then you will only get that one.
- Another handy one is when you get a missed call on your mobile – someone who left no message for you. You have their mobile number, but you don’t recognise it. If you database has a search criteria set up on the mobile phone numbers of all contacts, you can search on the missed number and see if it comes up. If you were being called by someone is the database, you will find them immediately.
The point is that a good database will give you the option to enter several search criteria at one time. It is only necessary that those different search criteria be set up when the database structure is first created.
Of course, you can also add such functions at a later date. Everyone has different requirements on how they want to use their data, but the really cool thing is that databases are really flexible, so it is very easy to cater to everyone’s needs.