How To Maintain A Clean Contact List

June 16, 2017 - 6 minutes read

Sometimes the simplest errors lead to big mishaps in time. Like the fall of Constantinople at the hands of the Ottoman Empire because some soldier forgot to lock the Kerkoporta gate one day (for those who don’t know how that ended, the city was plundered, civilians slaughtered and the once-great capital of the Byzantine empire completely desecrated in three days). Or we could look at something out of recent times like Blockbuster Video laughing at an offer to buy Netflix in 2000 (and we all know how that story ended).

Often overlooked when building your contact list, these small fixes ensure your list is clean, easy to filter through and simple to manage across multiple systems. A little oversight on your part would render your contact list completely unusable. You could, of course, start early and clean up your list before disaster strikes. So let’s look at the steps you need to pay attention to to maintain a healthy contact list.

clean up your contact list

Keeping import and export easy

The simplest way to do this is to stick to CSV (comma separated values) format when exporting or importing data between different services and systems. Compared to Excel or PDF files, CSV is much easier to migrate between systems. Excel’s auto-formatting can sometimes mess up numbers because there is no clear distinction between numerical values and text. CSV, being a text file, stores data as is so it is easier to manually edit when needed. It also consumes less memory and makes for faster transfer.

Maintaining address formats

It is important to have a distinct field for addresses in your contact list. Keep a strict format for inputting addresses in case you have multiple people adding to the list. Lists where some addresses have a locality but others only mention the town/city are hard to sort through. Street names, districts and pin codes should be clearly separated and given their own column in case you need to sort by location.

Checking contact numbers

Contact numbers are one of the most important fields in your contact list. If you are phonebanking or sending SMS broadcasts, you have to make sure the contact information is input correctly for the software to read. Check for area codes and whether it is possible to filter accordingly. Inform agents making entries in the contact list the correct format for entering mobile and landline numbers. If you convert files while migrating between systems, verify the contact numbers are transferred correctly.

Maintain date of entries

There are quite a few uses of maintaining proper dates for entries in the contact list. You could specify a certain time period and choose to reach out to contacts made only during that period. Over time, your contact list can get saturated with outdated entries. You could sort by dates and ask contacts made beyond a certain time to update their contact information.

Make sure the date formats are consistent throughout the contact list. Specify DD-MM-YY or MM-DD-YY so your agents can understand the right way to input dates.

Verifying email addresses

Email is, perhaps, going to feature in your outreach as much as or more than calls and SMS. So you should have an email verification process set up to reduce bounce rate of your mail. There are many free and paid options available that can analyze the email addresses in your list. This will help you declutter the list and remove bad entries. Ask your agents to collect personal IDs instead of ones like [email protected] for long-term credibility.

Separate name fields

Your contact list should separate name entries by first name and last name fields. It is useful for importing the list to a system which recognizes and sorts names accordingly. You can combine the two fields when importing to a system with a single name field. Maintain order of first and last name for all entries to avoid confusion.


These small measures while building your contact list will ensure the list is clean, easy to filter through and migrate between systems. If you avoid doing these, you’d end up with a list that has a lot of cluttered information which would require manual sorting in the future. That would take up time and resources and might even be an error that changes the course of your future.

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