Managing newcomers with Connect
The Sunday-facing Connect platform includes a number of useful applications that you can run on a device at your weekend service information desk, including the "My Details" application, which is essentially a newcomer connect form whereby newcomers can submit their contact details and areas of interest. Submitted details are added to your database and optional notifications are triggered to alert ministry overseers. Newcomers can also be added into Flows so that you can welcome and follow up with everyone. When newcomers submit details for their spouse/partner and/or children, ChurchSuite links the whole family together automatically.
In this article
Overview of the Connect "My Details" form
The "My Details" application is found in ChurchSuite Connect, which can be accessed from the quick links section found on your ChurchSuite summary page, or by using the URL subdomain.churchsuite.com/connect in a browser. The Connect platform is secured behind a username and password, with appropriate Connect user permissions. Many churches find it helpful to set up a new User account specifically for Connect, with just the essential permissions needed for Connect, without needing to provide access to your ChurchSuite modules. You may also wish to operate Connect in a browser's "kiosk" mode to prevent unstaffed computers being used for unauthorised purposes.
The My Details functionality is designed for staffed and unstaffed Visitor/Information Desks, perhaps in your weekend services; enabling newcomers to submit contact details and areas of interest. Details of new people are added to your Address Book automatically, reducing the need for printed 'visitor connect' cards and eliminating issues around deciphering handwriting!
An optional "Edit" mode can be enabled, enabling your existing Address Book contacts to search for and view the obfuscated personal details and update them as necessary - ideal for church members who are unable to access the member-facing My ChurchSuite.
The My Details form can be customised and styled to suit your church's needs, perhaps to reproduce your existing visitor connect card experience. It's also multi-site enabled so that newcomers are assigned to the correct site. Address Book module options give you complete control over which fields and areas of interest show in your newcomer form, which fields are 'required' entry fields, and what happens to newly created contacts when they are added e.g. Notes,Tags, Key Dates, Flows, notifications and a success email.
Newcomers can submit details for their entire family - for spouse/partner (depending on marital status selected) and children - ChurchSuite links the whole family automatically.
Configuring Address Book Connect
My Details is configured in the "Address Book" module settings, accessed via the cogwheels icon in the top-right corner of the module. You'll need Manage module or Administrator permissions to access this. In the module options, select the Connect tab.
To activate My Details, tick to "Allow new contacts to be added". If you wish to enable "Edit" mode so that existing Address Book contacts can search for and edit their own details, tick to "Allow existing contacts to be edited". Next, optionally specify one or more contacts to be notified whenever new contact details are submitted - separate multiple email addresses with a comma. You can further customise the appearance of My Details by adding a brief Welcome Message that shows at the top of the form when it loads.
Next, set the "Optional Fields"; enabling or disabling fields and setting those fields that are "required". Note that you can also optionally enable "Student Details" to allow newcomers to include student details as part of submitting their contact details and areas of interest. You can also have any of your custom fields enabled on the form, if you wish.
Next, choose whether to allow newcomers to select the Site/campus they'll be assigned to (Multi-site enabled churches only), and if so, which sites they can choose from. If only one site is selected, no site-selector is provided to the newcomer and their submitted details will be added to that one site. If multiple sites are enabled, a site-selector is provided on the form so that newcomers can choose which site their contact details are assigned to. All family members will be assigned to the same selected site and linked together as appropriate.
Set any optional Tags and/or Key Dates that are to be assigned to new contacts when they submit their details. You can also set whether new people are added to a Flow. This is great opportunity to ensure newcomers get into your integration processes (perhaps a Newcomer Flow) from the beginning, ensuring that no one slips through the net! Only new Address Book contacts will be added to the Flow, not children.
Moving on, set whether or not you wish new contacts to be able to submit details about their children. This option is only available to churches with the Children module on their account.
Next, add your Areas of Interest. This section is optional, but provides a great way of linking newcomers to their 'next steps' in your church. We suggest keeping the list or interest areas and the descriptions short, to prevent a newcomer having to endlessly scroll - perhaps just two or three "next steps" - rather than listing every area of ministry or service your church provides!
Add an email address of the ministry overseer for each respective Area of Interest, and any Flow you would like new contacts to be automatically added to if they select that interest when submitting their details. Ministry overseers will receive an email notification when someone new submit the form with that area of interest selected. You can add multiple ministry overseer email addresses by separating them with a comma. Drag the cross-hairs icon on the left to change the order of your areas of interest. You can even duplicate the areas of interest from an existing web-embedded My Details form, saving you typing from scratch - although you may prefer entirely different areas of interest on your Connect form compared to those on your embed form on your website - it's entirely up to you!
Finally, customise the "Success Message" that displays on the screen when someone submits their details. You can also send a Preset "Success Email". You'll need to have created your Preset email first - then you can select it from the list. Don't overlook the importance of this 'success email' - it's your first opportunity to respond to a newcomer and extend a warm welcome as they submit their details - perhaps explain what's going to happen next in terms of follow up. Note that ChurchSuite will always send a confirmation email to the submitter's email address confirming all the details they submitted on the form. In the confirmation, personal details will be presented in a obfuscated format. That confirmation is logged in the person's Recent Activity > Communication log as an historic record of consent for the personal data they provided. If you assign a Success Email, the confirmation email information is simply added to the end of the Success Email (rather than sending two emails).
Save all your changes by selecting "Save Changes" before closing the Connect options page. You can now view your finished results and make further adjustments if necessary.
What happens when newcomers submit their details?
This is great question and you should know the answer so that you can engage your newcomer processes accordingly. Here's what happens: -
- A new contact is added to your Address Book with an active status.
- Any spouse/partner specified will also have a new contact added to the Address Book with an active status. The couple will be linked. The spouse/partner will share all the contact information of the main contact (except email, telephone, mobile and DOB, which is unique to each contact).
- Any children added as part of the submission will be added with an active status to the Children module and linked to the main parent contact in the Address Book.
- Key Dates and Tags will be assigned in accordance with your Address Book Connect module settings (and also to any spouse/partner added, but not to children).
- Notification emails will be sent to the overseer contact(s) designated in the module settings > notifications, and to all ministry overseers designated for Areas of Interest selected. The new contact will also be added to a Flow(s), as designated in your module settings (and any spouse/partner, but not children).
- A Note will be added against the contact that their details were added through ChurchSuite Connect (and any spouse/partner and children). The note will include an areas of interest selected
- A Preset "success" email will have gone to the new contact (if you have enabled this). Otherwise a confirmation email is sent. This is logged in the Recent Activity > Communication log as an historic record of consent to store their persona data.
When newcomer details are submitted through Address Book Connect, ChurchSuite does alert you to any potential duplicates in your Address Book. When reviewing newly added contacts, you might see an information message alerting you to a potential duplicate. You then have the option to check this and, if necessary, merge the duplicate contacts.