Sending an e-mail (or phone call) from a Tableau dashboard.

From my Big Sky Dreaming presentation. How to help your sales team send e-mails and make phone calls from Tableau. Hint: It’s pretty easy to do.

I recently presented Tableau to more than one-hundred Salesforce Administrators and Developers at Big Sky Dreamin’ 2019. During the course of the presentation we talked about building actionable dashboard. The ideas of building actionable data products (or dashboards) isn’t new, but sometimes we just need to see something tangible.

One trick I often use is a mailto: URL action to pre-fill e-mails. In fact, the first time I used it inside a Tableau Dashboard was back in 2013 to have administrators e-mail parents in a school district. (This trick as been written about by Marc Reid and John Brink, to name a few, but I thought I would show my take.)

In this example. we have a sales dashboard. Inside the dashboard is a customer list with orders that have been created but not yet fulfilled. The dashboard contains information on both the order and the customer so the sales leader can keep track of orders. If there is a delay in fulfillment, the sales person probably wants to do two things:

  1. E-mail fulfillment to get a status of potential blockers.
  2. Call the customer with an update (if the status is known or just to let them know you are checking in).

Part 1: mailto:

With URL actions we can actual create actions to do both! Instead of embedding a typical URL you can use mailto: to send an e-mail to anyone. This can be built into the database, as a static e-mail or you could even use a parameter to drive the recipient. For our example, we am sending me an e-mail with the following “URL”.

Step 1: Add a visualization to the dashboard.

Below is the visualization on our dashboard we will use. It contains a list of our current open orders sorted by days open. It also shows the size of the order. The checkmark indicates key clients too (notice how all our key clients have large orders in this case).

Step 2: Add a URL action to the dashboard.

After we add a URL action, make sure to give a name that would be appropriate to display on the dashboard. If you run the action on a Menu, the Name will be displayed as-is.

Then we’re going to fill in our URL with the following:

mailto:luke.stanke@tessellationconsulting.com?subject=<Order ID>

This “URL” will send an email to luke.stanke@tessellationconsulting.com (my real e-mail address) and insert the Order ID from the order selected on the dashboard into the subject line of our e-mail address. Again, <Order ID> is driven by the Order ID field in our data. Notice the format here is:

mailto:email@domain.com?subject=Important Business

The spaces between words works for some browsers but if your end users are on older browser versions you’ll need to convert the spaces in your subject or body from ” ” to “%20”. The end result is something that looks like this:

mailto:email@domain.com?subject=Important%20Business

You can even include cc, bcc, and the body of the email using “&”.

mailto:email@domain.com?subject=Important Business&body=A brief question about important business
Step 3: Test the mailto: action.

Once we add our URL, we can click OK and go back to our dashboard and test it out. Below is an embedded visualization with a menu-action to e-mail the fulfillment lead (in this case, me). Just click any element of an order then tap/click “Send e-mail to fulfillment” and hopefully an e-mail pre-fills for you to send.

Part 2: tel:

If you have end-users (in this case sales leaders) who use Tableau Mobile or have the ability to make calls from their computer then I highly recommend using the tel: URL. With this “URL” you can automatically dial a contact. In the case above, we have customer phone numbers (simulated for this example, of course). Then we’re going to fill in our URL with the following:

tel:<PhoneNumber>

Also notice we are using a field in the data called <Customer Name> to customize the Name of the URL action. Doing this will add the customer’s name directly into the title of the action. When we use the Menu action the customer’s name will show up.

Wrap-up

There are lots of ways to drive action out of a dashboard. Some of those actions are less obvious than others. When it comes to sales-related dashboards it’s important to think about how the sales team can directly connect with the customer (or fulfillment) faster. Taking away steps to action will improve overall usability of data products, build trust with your end users, and hopefully drive outcomes across the organization.

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