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It’s time for your help line to offer live chat and text messaging service

For years, most non-profit help lines considered their service to be synonymous with the telephone, and for good reason. In developed countries it is ubiquitous, reliable and low cost. So providing information and emotional support by telephone has been an effective way to connect with anyone in the general public needing these services. But just in the past year, electronic channels like live chat and text messaging (SMS) surpassed the levels of use seen by voice phone calls. If you’re a non-profit help line who that only thinks about serving people by voice telephone calls, it’s time to think again. Since 2008, more adults have mobile phones than regular telephone lines (89% vs 81% – Harris Interactive). And those mobile phone subscribers conduct more text messaging conversations than actual voice conversations (Nielson Mobile Media), sending over 75 billion such messages every month and growing exponentially. Even when folks are not on a mobile phone, they increasingly turn to non-voice modes of communication like instant messaging (IM). In fact four in ten online Americans now use IM regularly (Pew Internet & American Life). Just as telephone-based help lines seemed revolutionary to the pioneers who started them 40+ years ago, it may seem revolutionary to consider offering service through these electronic channels. But we maintain that your services should not be restricted to one particular technology – the telephone –instead you should use whatever modes of communication are in wide use by the public to make a difference with your services. Clearly, channels like text messaging, instant messaging and email are pervasive in our society. If your helpline only serves people by telephone, you may soon be expected to also deliver your service through SMS and live chat. But the prospect of figuring out how to offer these channels is daunting – finding reliable and cost effective service providers, training your people on new tools, tracking and reporting on these interactions – add up to an expensive and time consuming endeavor. Or does it? What if your help line management software integrated these channels in an elegant manner? What if offering instant messaging or texting was as simple as clicking a few buttons? With iCarol Messaging, it’s as easy as that. We’ve built the systems to make it easy for your clients to reach you by any of these electronic channels. Your staff and volunteers get access to a wide range of tools familiar to them so they can provide great service and collect data on their interactions. You get a comprehensive view of your help line’s operations that comprehends all your service delivery channels. To find out more, please read more or contact us.

Jackie McKechnie

Jackie co-founded iCarol in 2004 after working as a helpline volunteer at a Distress Center in Canada . With a background in Engineering, Technology and Marketing, Jackie is COO and Director of Marketing for iCarol. iCarol is your help line software company that is here to make your job easier as Executive Director or leader of a non-profit contact center. Whether you have a crisis, help or 211 referral line, we are here to help you help more people in your community. Read more...

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