The Case of the Mysterious Company Name Change

Community Manager
Community Manager

If I had the chops to go full Phillip Marlowe on this I would....


It was a day like any other. I was going through my cases when this dame shows up in my queue, telling me her company name has been changed in Marketo but there's no record of a change in the activity log.  The story sounded screwy. There should be a Data Value Change record at the least, but there was nothing.  "Please," she said, "You have to help me! This keeps happening and I can't figure out why!"  She was a smart cookie, I could tell, but she was in over her head.  "I'll take the case," I told her, "and I'll get to the bottom of it."


Sorry, that's about as much of a Raymond Chandler impersonation as I am capable of, and it wasn't actually a mystery, because I knew why this was happening, it was just really hard to explain it to the customer.  So I did what I always do when I have something to explain - I reached for a wild analogy and went with it.  So then, the analogy....


This Company Name change thing reminds me of my living situation in the 90s.  I lived in a house with a bunch of roommates and one land line phone with an answering machine.  Velma owned the answering machine, so the message said "Hi, this is Velma, leave a message."  This worked fine for Velma's callers, but everyone else who called our house thought they had the wrong number, so one day Daphne re-recorded the message "Hi, this is Daphne, leave a message" and everyone who called our number thought it was Daphne's house.  Then Shaggy changed the message again, to his own name, and then everyone who called the house thought it was Shaggy's house. To make it even more confusing, Velma was regularly going back and re-recording the message because it was her machine.  But if you went by what the message said, this was Velma's house.  No, it was Daphne's house.  No, it's Velma's house.  No, it's Shaggy's house.  No, it's Velma's house.


This is, metaphorically, what was happening inside the customer's Marketo instance.  The different leads were all on the same Account, which mean they all shared the Company Name field (think of Company Name as the answering machine in the story.)  One of the leads, Daphne, filled out a form on a landing page but instead of using the established value for Company Name, "Mystery Machine", she entered "The Scooby Gang" in the form, which updated the Company Name.  But remember, the Company Name is a shared field, so now if you look at Velma and Shaggy's records in the Database, they say "The Scooby Gang" instead of "Mystery Machine".  Then Shaggy goes to fill out the form, but for Company Name he enters "Scooby Snax Incorporated".  Now Velma, Daphne, and Shaggy all have the Company Name "Scooby Snax."


The mystery of the whole thing is, "Why are these name changes not being logged?" and the plot twist is that the changes ARE recorded but only for the person who made the change.  Everyone else sees the new name because they are on the Account (live in the house), but because they were not the ones who made the action to change, it doesn't show up their activity log.


Now we know why this is happening.  What do we do about it? We can't just play musical chairs with the answering machine/Company Name forever.  Luckily, we usually have a CRM that can help us out.  Company Name in Marketo maps over to the Account object in the CRM, and the CRM generally does not allow Marketo to write to the Account object. Marketo can only change the Company Name on its side, and when the next sync cycle flows through, the CRM is gonna nope the name change and set the value back to the original "Mystery Machine" every time the name gets changed by a form fill.   Basically, Velma is the CRM.  She owns the answering machine, so she's always going to set it back to her name every time it gets changed.