Track your communications with customers in Business Contact Manager

In Business Contact Manager for Outlook, communications include not only e-mail messages and phone logs, but also information, such as a file, an Opportunity, or a business project that is related to a particular customer. The items become a part of the communication history for that customer.

This article describes how to create and edit communication history items.

What do you want to do?

Create and link communication history items

View and edit communication history items

Delete a communication history item

Sort communication history items

Use a Business Activity form

Create and link communication history items

Communication history items include Outlook e-mail messages, appointments, and tasks. They also include files, Business Project records, project tasks, Opportunities, business notes, and phone logs.

All communication history items must be linked to a record. You can link existing items, such as an e-mail message or a file to a record, or you can create a communication history item from within a record. The item is automatically linked to the record.

The items are listed on the History page of the record and in the Communication History folder.

Only Opportunities and Business Projects are communication history items that can also contain other communication history items.

Communication history item

Communication history items that can be linked to it

Opportunity

  • E-mail message

  • Business note

  • Phone log

  • File

  • Outlook task

  • Appointment

Business Project

  • Business note

  • Phone log

  • File

  • Outlook task

  • Appointment

The Communication History page of Accounts and Business Contacts

Accounts and Business Contacts inherit the communication history items of records that are linked to them.

If a communication history item, such as a phone log, is linked to another communication history item, such as a Business Project, the phone log is listed on the History page of the Business Project, and also on the History page of the Account or Business Contact record that the Business Project is linked to.

Account and Business Contact records also inherit the project tasks from Business Project records.

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Create a communication history item

  1. In the Navigation Pane, under Business Contact Manager, click one of the following folders to display the workspace:

    • Contact Management.

    • Sales.

    • Project Management. (Business Projects only)

      Why isn't the Marketing folder listed?

      By default, the Marketing folder does not contain Account or Business Contact records. You cannot add a communication history item to any marketing activity record, because they are not linked to an Account or Business Contact record type.

  2. Click the tab that contains the record that you want.

    Note:  You cannot add a communication history item to any project task record, because they are not linked to an Account or Business Contact record type.

  3. Double-click the record to which you want to link a new communication history item.

  4. On the Ribbon, in the Show group, click History.

  5. Click the New button, and then click the type of communication history item that you want to add.

    Note:  You cannot create new files in Business Contact Manager for Outlook. You can only link existing files to records. The type of files that you can link include Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, Word, and image files. For more information, see Link an existing Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, or Word file to a record later in this article.

  6. Complete the form for your new item, and then click Save & Close or send the e-mail message.

    The item is listed on the History page.

    Files in the communication history are linked rather than stored in your Business Contact Manger database. If you share your database and a user does not have access to your network and needs to access files that are in the communication history, attach the files in the Comments section rather than linking the files to the communication history. Note that the database size limit is 4 GB, and files that are attached increase the size of the database.

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Link existing communication history items to records

Business notes, phone logs, e-mail messages, appointments, tasks, and files can be linked to more than one record.

Opportunities can be linked to only one Account or Business Contact record.

Business Projects can be linked to more than one Account or Business Contact record, but only one of the Accounts or Business Contacts can be the primary record.

Project tasks can be linked to only one Business Project record.

You can change the record that any of the communication history items are linked to. For more information, see View and edit communication history items later in this article.

Link an existing Outlook e-mail message, appointment, or task to a record

  1. Open the Outlook item that you want to link to a record.

  2. On the Ribbon, in the Business group, click Link to Record.

  3. In the Link to a Business Contact Manager record dialog box, in the Item Type list, click the type of record that you want to link the item to.

  4. In the list of records, click a record.

    If you want to link the item to more than one record, select those records.

    How do I select more than one record?

    To select records that are adjacent to each other, press the SHIFT key, and then click the first and last records of the group that you want to add. To select nonadjacent records, press the CTRL key, and then click the individual records. To select all records, click one, and then press CTRL+A.

  5. Under Linked Records, click Link To.

    The records you selected are listed in the Link To box.

    To link an Outlook item to different types of records, click the record type in the Item Type list, and then click the record.

  6. Click OK.

    To ensure that all e-mail messages to or from an Account or Business Contact are included in the communication history of a record, in Outlook, right-click an e-mail message that you want to link to the record, and then click Link & Track. For information about how to automatically link e-mail messages to records, see Link and track e-mail messages in Business Contact Manager.

Note:  There is no indicator to tell you that an e-mail message, appointment, or task is linked to a record. You can click the Link to Record button in the Outlook item to see if the item is linked, and the records that the item is linked to.

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Link an existing Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, or Word file to a record

  1. In Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, or Word, open the file that you want to link to a record.

  2. Click the File tab.

  3. Click the Business Contact Manager tab, and then click the Link to Record button.

  4. In the Link to Business Contact Manager record dialog box, in the Folder list, click the type of record that you want to link the file to.

  5. In the list of records, click a record.

    To link the file to more than one record, select those records.

How do I select more than one record?

To select records that are adjacent to each other, press the SHIFT key, and then click the first and last records of the group that you want to add. To select non-adjacent records, press the CTRL key, and then click the individual records. To select all records, click one, and then press CTRL+A.

  1. Under Linked Records, click Link To.

    The records you selected are listed in the Link To box.

  2. Click OK.

    For more information, see Link a file to a Business Contact Manager record.

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View and edit communication history items

You can view and edit communication history items on the communication history page of a record, or in the Communication History folder. Editable items include tasks, appointments, business notes, and phone logs. E-mail messages cannot be edited.

  1. Do either of the following:

    Open a record

    1. In the Navigation Pane, under Business Contact Manager, click one of the following folders to display the workspace:

      • Contact Management.

      • Sales.

      • Project Management. (Business Projects only)

        Why isn't the Marketing folder listed?

        By default, marketing activities do not have a History page. You cannot add a communication history item to any marketing activity record, because they are not linked to an Account or Business Contact record type.

    2. Click the tab that contains the record that you want.

    3. Double-click the record that has the communication history items you want to view.

    4. On the Ribbon, in the Show group, click History.

      All the communication history items that are linked to the record are listed.

Open the Communication History folder

  1. In the Navigation Pane, click the Business Contact Manager button.

  2. Double-click the Business Records folder to expand it, and then click Communication History.

    Note:  Communication history items that are linked to more than one record appear in the Communication History folder more than once. When you delete one copy of a communication history item that has many copies, the other copies are still linked to records. The names of linked records are displayed in the Linked To column of the Communication History folder.

You can sort or filter the list to see the items that you want. Click the View tab and then click the arrangement or filter that you want. For information about how to apply a more advanced filter, see Filter records in Business Contact Manager.

  1. Double-click the communication history item you want to edit.

  2. Make your changes and then save them.

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Why some communication history items are listed more than once

An item can be listed on the History page and in the Communication History folder more than once, if the item is linked to more than one record.

The History page of an Account or Business Contact record can list an item more than once if:

  • The item is linked to the Account record, and records that are linked to the Account record are also linked to the item. An Account record inherits the communication history items of records that are linked to it.

  • The item is linked to the Business Contact record, and an Opportunity or Business Project that is linked to the Business Contact contains a link to the same communication history item. A Business Contact record inherits the communication history of linked Opportunities and Business Projects.

The Communication History folder lists an item more than once only if the item is linked to more than one record. If an item is listed on the History page of an Account record because the Account record inherited it, but that item is not linked directly to the Account record, the item is not listed in the Communication History folder as linked to the Account record.

If you edit an item in a record, the item changes in all linked records.

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Delete a communication history item

Not all deleted communication history items behave in the same way.

When you delete an appointment, meeting, e-mail message, task, or file from a record, the item remains intact in its original location. You can link it to another record at any time. A deleted appointment, meeting, e-mail message, or task is moved to the Deleted Items folder in Business Contact Manager for Outlook.

If you delete an appointment, meeting, e-mail message, or task from its original location, but not in Business Contact Manager for Outlook, about 4 KB of the item remains in Business Contact Manager for Outlook. If you open an appointment, meeting, e-mail message, task, or file that was deleted from its original location, it displays in a Business Activity form. For information, see Use a Business Activity form later in this article.

When you delete a business note, Opportunity, or phone log from a record—as long as the item is not linked to another record—the actual business note, Opportunity, or phone log is moved to the Deleted Items folder in Business Contact Manager for Outlook.

To completely delete a communication history item from Business Contact Manager for Outlook, you must delete it from each record the item is linked to, and empty the Deleted Items folder.

Note:  Only the database owner can empty the Deleted Items folder in Business Contact Manager for Outlook.

For more information about deleting records, see Delete Business Contact Manager records.

  1. In the Navigation Pane, click the Business Contact Manager button.

  2. Double-click the Business Records folder to expand it, and then click Communication History.

  3. Click one or more copies of the communication history item that you want to delete.

    How do I select more than one record?

To select records that are adjacent to each other, press the SHIFT key, and then click the first and last records of the group that you want to add. To select non-adjacent records, press the CTRL key, and then click the individual records. To select all records, click one, and then press CTRL+A.

  1. Right-click the selected items and then click Delete.

    Note:  On a record, do not click the Delete button that is in the Actions group on the Ribbon, because you will delete the whole record, not just the selected communication history item.

The following table lists communication history items, and whether they are saved in Business Contact Manager for Outlook. If the item is stored in Business Contact Manager for Outlook only, it is deleted along with the linked Account, Business Contact, Opportunity, or Business Project record.

Type of communication history item

Saved in
Business Contact Manager for Outlook only?

Business note

Yes

Business Project

Yes

Project task

Yes

Opportunity

Yes

Phone log

Yes

E-mail message

No

Appointment

No

Task

No

File

No

Note:  When the Deleted Items folder is emptied, all items in the folder are permanently deleted. However, if the item linked to a record exists elsewhere as a file or Outlook appointment, task, or e-mail message, then it can be linked to other records. Phone logs and business notes are a special case, because they do not stand alone. They must be linked to Account, Business Contact, Opportunity, or Business Project records. Therefore, once the records they are linked to are permanently deleted, these items cannot be restored. For more information about restoring deleted items, see Restore a record in Business Contact Manager.

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Sort communication history items

You can sort communication history items in a number of ways.

  1. Do either of the following:

    Sort the communication history items on the History page of a record

    1. In the Navigation Pane, under Business Contact Manager, click one of the following folders to display the workspace:

      • Contact Management.

      • Sales.

      • Project Management. (Business Projects only)

        Why isn't the Marketing folder listed?

        By default, the Marketing folder does not contain Account or Business Contact records. You cannot add a communication history item to any marketing activity record, because they are not linked to an Account or Business Contact record type.

    2. Click the tab that contains the record you want.

    3. Double-click the record that contains the communication history items you want to view.

    4. On the Ribbon, in the Show group, click History.

    Sort the records in the Communication History folder

    1. In the Navigation Pane, click the Business Contact Manager button.

    2. Double-click the Business Records folder to expand it, and then click Communication History.

  2. On the Ribbon, click the View tab.

  3. In the Arrangement group, click one of the available options:

    1. By Type or Type

    2. By Created Date

    3. By Modified Date

    4. By Creator

    5. By Linked To

    6. Reverse Sort

    7. Expand/Collapse

      You can also sort the list by clicking a column header.

Note:  The sort is retained while the record or Communication History folder is open. When you close the record or folder, the sort is removed.

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Use a Business Activity form

If you open a communication history item such as a meeting, e-mail message, task, or file, and the item is not available, it opens in a Business Activity form. The original communication history item may be unavailable either because it has been deleted from its original location, or you're no longer connected to the computer on which the original item is located.

The Business Activity form includes some basic information. For example, for e-mail messages, it includes Subject, Link To, and the first 4 kilobytes (KB) of the message. For a file, it includes the file name, Link To, and the original location of the file.

Note:  Fields that contain information from the original item cannot be edited.

  • Subject     The subject or title of the original item.

  • Link To     A record this item was linked to.

  • Created/Due     The date the original item was created or due.

  • Sent     The date the original item was sent (applies only to a meeting or an e-mail message).

  • Modified     The date the most recent changes were saved to the original item.

  • Notes     The first 4 kilobytes (KB) of the e-mail message, basic information about the meeting or task, or the original location of the file.

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