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Posts Tagged ‘iCarol capabilities’

North Carolina 2-1-1 weathers the storm, helps those left in Matthew’s wake

NC 211

In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, many states in the southeastern United States faced destructive damage including massive flooding.

Here’s the latest from our friends at 2-1-1 in North Carolina:

    NC 2-1-1 Provides Resources to NC Residents Affected by Hurricane Matthew
    NC residents in all 100 NC counties can dial 2-1-1 from any phone 24/7 for resources

    Raleigh, NC – NC Emergency Management has asked NC residents affected by Hurricane Matthew or those wishing to help with disaster relief to dial 2-1-1 for storm related resources. Residents in all 100 counties can dial 2-1-1 from any phone to reach a trained call specialist who can help them find shelters, and learn about evacuation routes, find help with storm clean-up, locate food, water and ice, learn more about volunteer needs and more. The service is available 24/7 in any language and callers will always be connected to a live call specialist trained to assist during disasters.

    NC 2-1-1 call specialists are in contact with emergency management personnel and have the most up-to-date information on storm related resources, both during the storm and after. Call specialists can provide evacuation and shelter information, help people find food, water and ice distribution points and storm clean-up information and help, and help people find storm related clean-up help. Call specialists also have information about volunteer and donation needs and can provide that information to callers wishing to help those affected by the storm. NC residents should dial 2-1-1 or 888-892-1162.

    In addition to disaster related calls, NC 2-1-1 can help NC citizens find resources for other health and human service needs, such as food, housing, assistance with utilities, job training, information about health care providers, and more year round. All calls are confidential and the service is offered at no cost to North Carolina residents.

    NC 2-1-1 is provided to residents in all 100 North Carolina counties by United Way. The service is free, confidential, and available 24/7/365 in any language.

NC 2-1-1 staff shared with us that amidst the challenges of the situation, their service is standing out and being recognized by leadership throughout the state for their availability and outstanding service to their community. The system has proven itself to be a great tool to help citizens in need, and the people reaching them are feeling comforted, and pleasantly surprised, when they reach a live person.

We received a nice note from them in the aftermath of the storm:

    “iCarol has served us incredibly well and I am so pleased with how easily I can pull the statistics I need. A big thank you to Mary for helping me pull those saved chart templates together Friday afternoon. The leadership at emergency management has been so impressed with the kind of information we can provide to them with just a few key strokes.” – Heather, NC 2-1-1 Statewide Strategy Director

We’re honored to be NC 2-1-1′s choice of software providers and we’re glad that iCarol has been an instrument to help them help people and produce important data for emergency management personnel, while reducing stress on their staff. Our thoughts continue to be with them and with all the people in the southeast US affected by Hurricane Matthew.

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iCarol Presents: Using Data Repositories to Build Partnerships and Explore New Revenue Streams

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You invest a lot of time collecting and then maintaining your database of community referrals so that you can connect your clients with the resources that can help them. But did you know that other organizations like hospitals, government agencies, corporations, and others have uses for that data, and are interested in partnering with you to access it?

Join us on Tuesday October 4th at 2pm EST for a webinar presented by iCarol Co-founder and CTO Neil McKechnie, to learn more about iCarol’s vision for creating data repositories that will help you build partnerships, open up new sources of funding, and most important of all, help more people.

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New and improved layout and access to settings in iCarol Messaging

chat vs text

With our latest release we’ve improved the flow of your Messaging (Live Chat and SMS/Texting) settings page, while also exposing new settings to our users. We think you’ll enjoy the ease of navigation and access to some settings and tools previously only available to the iCarol team.

These settings are still found in the same location, by first clicking on ‘Messaging’ in the main iCarol menu. Next, you’ll click on “Instant Messaging and SMS Settings’ in the upper right of that screen. Previously these were two separate links that would take you to two separate settings pages. Now this is a single link taking you to a single page where you can navigate through both Live Chat and SMS Settings.

Once you arrive on the settings page, you’ll find a tabbed layout to access various settings. Before changing any settings, you’ll first need to select the Portal to which your selections should apply. Your organization may only have a single Live Chat or SMS service with iCarol, but if you’ve added on additional services then you will find these portals listed in the drop down menu.

Messaging settings select portal

On the ‘General Settings’ tab, shown above, you can decide what terminology is used to reference your Chat Specialist within the chat conversation, and also decide what security levels can monitor chats, see all active conversations, and who can disable Messaging or a particular portal.

Live Chat Settings

On the ‘IM Settings’ tab shown above, you’ll first see some familiar settings where you can determine the messages that will appear to your visitor while they’re waiting in the queue or when the Live Chat conversation starts. You’ll also set your Terms and Conditions and Privacy policy for your visitors to read before agreeing to chat with you. This is also the location of the HTML code that you or your web master will place on your website so that visitors will know if you’re online or offline, and will gain them entry to begin the chat if you’re currently online.

The final set of settings in the top section of the page allow you to:

  • Decide whether or not visitors can chat anonymously
  • Choose whether or not to enforce geographic restriction so that only visitors in certain locations can chat with you
  • Prevent visitors from typing until the counselor joins
  • Hide a visitor’s IP address
  • Disable geographic fields
  • Disable the ability for users to create logins for repeated use

The lower part of the ‘IM Settings’ tab includes a feature where you can upload custom Online or Offline images to replace the default images offered by iCarol. This means your organization can design your own Online/Offline images that fit with your branding or make use of your logo or other images easily identifiable with your agency. Lastly, decide which fields should be available and/or required at registration, and also set specific coverage areas to be allowed access to the chat, should you choose to enforce geographic restriction.

Live Chat Settings 2

On the ‘SMS Settings’ tab you’ll find mostly familiar settings that were accessible under the previous layout. Here you can determine all the auto responses for the selected Portal, including the important responses that will describe the Opt-in and Opt-out procedures to your visitor. Here you’ll also enter any mobile numbers you plan to use to test your SMS service, and finally you’ll find new settings to enable geographic restriction and hide a visitor’s full mobile phone number. On this page you can also enter coverage areas should you choose to enforce geographic restriction.

SMS Settings

Finally on the last tab, Standard Messages, you will set all the pre-written greetings that should be available for use by your Chat Specialists. These standard messages can be set by Portal, and for Live Chat, SMS, or both. Once entered these messages can also be edited or deleted as needed.

Standard Messages 1 Standard Messages 2

We hope you’ll find this new layout even more user friendly and easy to navigate than before. Additionally, access to new tools and settings offer even more control over how your Messaging service works and grants immediate access to make important changes that once had to be submitted to our Support Team. We believe this expanded access will further strengthen your service as you offer these new and important communication channels to your community.

Should you have questions or need assistance understanding or using these settings, don’t hesitate to contact our Support Team for assistance.

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Join our next Quarterly Enhancement Review Webinar

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It’s that time again! Our next Quarterly Enhancement Review Webinar will be happening soon: Thursday April 21st at 1pm EDT.

In this webinar we’ll review some of the features released to iCarol in recent months including:

  • New ways to engage with your community
  • Flexibility in resource record management
  • Greater control over user capabilities
  • …and more!

We’ll also discuss how each of these new features can be used in your day-to-day work, and how they can improve and expand your service offerings.

The webinar is typically most beneficial and interesting to current iCarol clients who are Program Managers or Directors and use iCarol at an Admin security level, or those who are considering subscribing to iCarol. That said, all are welcome to attend.

This is part of our commitment to providing excellent communication about iCarol capabilities, updates, and enhancements on a regular basis. We hope you’ll join us!

Click here to Register

Interested, but can’t make it on the 21st? No worries, we’ll have the recording available on our website shortly after the live broadcast.

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Our next Quarterly Enhancement Webinar is next week!

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Available space is filling up fast! If you haven’t already, please be sure to register for our Quarterly Enhancement Review scheduled for next Wednesday January 6th at 12pm EDT.

Because iCarol is a web-based program, our software is updated and new features deployed via regular releases. In this webinar we plan to review some of our best and most useful features from recent months, and give you a few exclusive sneak peeks at features being released very soon. Just some of the advantages of these new tools? You can:

  • Improve your chat and text service delivery
  • Increase productivity and efficiency when providing resource and referral services
  • Enhance communication within your networks
  • Meet your follow-up mandates with less impact on your staff
  • Gather data from the public, your clients, potential volunteers and others via new channels
  • And more!

We hope you can join us next week and hear in person about all the latest tools that help your daily workflow. Please click the link below to register. Can’t join us on the 6th? The webinar recording will be up on our site shortly after the webinar ends.

Click here to Register

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Using Custom Categories in iCarol


Categorizing your resources can help your staff and volunteers find appropriate resources for those in need. Rather than searching for a resource by name, they can search by a category and be presented with a list of resources matching that search term. The list of categories is completely customizable, and for those using the AIRS taxonomy, please note you can use both the taxonomy and custom categories if you wish.

To turn on the custom category feature in iCarol, follow these steps:

  • Click Admin Tools in the left hand menu
  • Click the Resources Tab
  • In the AIRS/211 Taxonomy section, click the box next to “Uses Categories as well as 211 Taxonomy” to place a check mark there
  • Click the “Save all settings” button at the top of the screen

Turn on Custom Categories

Once the feature is turned on, the next step is to create a list of custom categories. It may be useful to review the resources currently in your resource database to determine what category names to use that would best represent the kinds of services those resources offer. Please note, this tool can be used to create just one list of categories, and it can also be used to create a list of categories with sub-categories.

To create a custom category, follow these steps:

  • Click Resources in the left hand menu
  • Click Manage Resources in the upper right hand side of the screen
  • In the second column, click “Customize your keywords”

  • Create custom category

  • Click “Add a new keyword”

  • Add keyword

  • Fill in a Name for the category. A description and a rank for the category are optional.

  • Name category

  • Before clicking Save, on the left hand side of the screen, place a checkmark either beside the option that says “Assign to the top level of your hierarchy” if you want the category to be in the top level of your hierarchy, or beside the name of a category already created, to make the new category a sub-category of that one. For example, in the screenshot below, “Youth” and “Matrimony” are sub-categories of Counseling.

  • Assigning hierarchy

  • Click the Save button

The final step is to assign categories to your resources. There are two ways to do this. The first option is to search for a specific resource you want to assign categories to and edit it. Follow these steps:

  • Click Resources in the left hand menu
  • Search for the resource you would like to assign categories to
  • When you receive the list of search results, click “Details” on the resource you would like to edit
  • Click the Edit button in the upper right hand corner
  • Scroll down the page to the Categorization section
  • Click the link “Assign this resource to categories. For those who also use taxonomy, please note that this link will say “Assign this resource to taxonomy” but it will be used to assign both taxonomy and categories

  • Assign category to resources

  • A pop-up box will appear that will show the categorization hierarchy you have created.
  • Click the boxes beside the categories you would like to assign the resource to. This will place a check mark in the box

  • Assign category to resources 2

  • At the top of the pop-up box, click the “save selection for this resource” button

  • Save selection button

  • You can then close the pop-up box and the resource record will update to show the categories assigned

  • resource saved with categories

  • Click “Save” or “Save and view resource” at the top of the screen

The second method to assign categories to resources is to use the “Assign resources to categories” tool. Follow these steps:

  • Click Resources in the left hand menu
  • Click Manage resources in the upper right hand corner of the screen
  • Click “Assign resources to categories” in the second column

  • Assign resources to categories

  • Use the filters at the top of the screen to create a list of resources to assign categories to

  • Assign Categories

  • Once the list of resources has been generated, click the “Assign” link next to the name of the resource. This will bring up the hierarchy of categories you have created.

  • 12

  • Click the boxes beside the categories you would like to assign the resource to. This will place a check mark in the box
  • At the top of the screen, click the “save selection for this resource” button

  • 13

  • The resource you just added categories to will disappear from the list of resources as your categorizations have been successfully saved.
  • From here, you can click Assign beside the next resource and repeat the steps above

Once categories have been created, and resources have been assigned to these categories, one can then search by these categories. Searches can be conducted either by typing a category name in the search box and clicking the Search button, or by clicking on a category name in the category hierarchy that will appear on the resource search page. For example, the search depicted below was generated by clicking Cancer Type, and then Breast in the category hierarchy to generate a list of resources that provide services related to breast cancer.

If you have any questions about using categories in iCarol, please submit a case to the iCarol Support Team.

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Information and Referral Day

final I&R Day logo

Beginning in 2011, when the Unites States Senate first recognized Information and Referral Services Day, November 16th was designated to raise public awareness and recognize the critical importance of the I&R field.

Every day thousands of people find the help they need quickly, conveniently and free of charge because of Information and Referral (I&R) services. I&R services come in all shapes and sizes, from crisis lines that provide their local community with a core set of human service referrals, to larger scale 2-1-1 centers and statewide 2-1-1 networks providing comprehensive Information and Referral services to entire states or provinces covering many different topics and types of services.

Information and Referral is the art, science and practice of bringing people and services together and is an integral component of the health and human services sector. People in search of critical services such as shelter, financial assistance, food, jobs, or mental health support often do not know where to begin to get help, or they get overwhelmed trying to find what they need. I&R services recognize that when people in need are more easily connected to the services that will help them, thanks to knowledgeable I&R professionals, it reduces frustration and ensures that people reach the proper services quickly and efficiently.

The people who work these lines are consummate professionals who are often times like living, breathing encyclopedias; providing answers to questions ranging from, “Where can I get a free meal for my family” to “There’s a horse running loose in my neighborhood, who do I call?” We at iCarol are really honored to have so many Information and Referral services all across the world use our software to help provide these services to people who reach them via phone, chat, or text.

If you’d like to learn more about what iCarol does to support efficient referral management, check out this page of our website that goes over some of those features. You’re also welcome to join one of our regular webinars that focuses solely on our Information and Referral tools. We hope you’ll join us sometime to learn more.

Happy I & R Day, everyone, and kudos on the awesome work you do connecting people with the services they need!

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Join us for a Quarterly Enhancement Review Webinar

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Time is running out and available space is filling up fast! If you haven’t already, please be sure to register for our Quarterly Enhancement Review scheduled for September 30th at 1pm EDT.

In this fast-paced webinar, with time for questions, we’ll be discussing:

  • New features recently released
  • How these changes help you find ways to streamline your day
  • How these changes can expand your service offerings in your helpline

The webinar will be most beneficial and interesting to current iCarol clients who are Program Managers or Directors and use iCarol at an Administrator security level, or those who are considering subscribing to iCarol. That said, all are welcome to attend.

We’re committed to providing excellent communication about iCarol capabilities, updates, and enhancements on a regular basis. We hope you’ll join us!

Click here to Register

Interested, but can’t make it on the 30th? No worries, we’ll have the recording available on our website shortly after the live broadcast.

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Scheduling multiple follow-ups to a client

We recently enhanced the “Follow-up Activity” section of call report forms to allow for scheduling several follow-ups at the time that the original form is being filled out. Previously you could add just one initial follow-up activity when first filling out a new call form. Scheduling additional follow-ups was possible, but it required that you first submit and then view or edit the report form before adding additional activities. These additional steps are now unnecessary.

Here’s how this capability works:

    1. If you’re only scheduling one follow-up for the client, do what you have always done, which is to fill out your reporting form, fill out the Follow-up Activity information on the ‘Finish’ tab of the form, and then Submit the form.

    first follow up

    Important Note: If you only want to add one follow-up activity, follow the steps above as written. You DO NOT need to click the “Add New Follow Up” button. If you do, then enter the follow-up details again, two follow-up activities will be created. The Add New Follow Up button is only to be used if you want to add more than one follow-up activity at a time.

    2. If you know at the time the initial report form is being created that this client should receive not one, but several follow-ups, you can schedule several follow-ups at this time, before submitting the form. After scheduling the first follow-up, click the Add New Follow Up button to save this follow-up and create an additional follow-up.

    Add 1st addtl follow up

    3. Once the first follow-up has been scheduled, you’ll see it listed under the Scheduled Follow-ups area. Then, your follow-up activity will be clear once again and you can now schedule an additional follow-up. Once the information is complete, click the Add New Follow Up button as you did before to add this second follow up.

    fill out 1st addtl follow up

    4. You can follow steps 2 and 3 as many times as needed to scheduled a series of follow-ups for this client, before clicking the Submit button once finished. If at any point you make a mistake when filling out follow-up details, the Clear Follow Up button can be used to clear all details entered.

You’ll still be able to add additional follow-up activities in both View or Edit mode of report forms just as you always could, but these new capabilities allow for a more efficient process if you’d like to schedule several follow-ups right from that first, newly created form.

There are many scenarios in which you may know during the first interaction that a help-seeker will want or need several follow-ups. One example is shown in our screenshots above, where a caller presenting with thoughts of suicide may need several follow-ups to stay in touch and help them maintain a safety plan. In fact, many authorities on suicide prevention best practices suggest that ongoing follow-ups from crisis contact centers are an important part of successfully seeing someone safely through a period of intense suicide ideation.

Other examples of multiple follow-up planning during the initial interaction could be planning out a series of surveys with a caller, or a series of follow-ups to follow their progression through an application process or other ongoing activity.

By being able to set out and schedule these follow-ups all at once when completing the initial form documentation, your staff and volunteers will save some additional steps and clicks, which saves time and more quickly gets them back and available for the next call, chat, or text.

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Changes to AIRS Problems/Needs Categories

If you use the AIRS Problems / Needs categories, there will be a small change to them coming with our next update of the taxonomy. AIRS announced Medicare and Medicaid has been moved from the Income Support/Assistance category to the Health Care category.

When you subscribe to the 211 Taxonomy in iCarol, you get the benefit of automatic updates and maintenance to the taxonomy about once per quarter, helping you stay current and meeting AIRS accreditation standards. Our next taxonomy update will be in July so when that is completed, you’ll see this new Problems/Needs category change reflected in your iCarol system.

Once the change is in place, you can continue using any number of statistical reports on Problems/Needs to track and report on these issues, like this one showing the Problem/Needs categories with the current category breakdowns.

AIRS Problem Need Categories

Our Taxonomy updates take care of things like adding new codes or replacing codes that have been retired by AIRS. With the July update we will apply the changes to the needs categories, and we’ll automatically and retroactively place previously collected needs into the new appropriate categories, making your annual reports fall in line with what is being requested by AIRS.

If you’re a current iCarol user and have questions about what it means to use Taxonomy in iCarol, check out our videos found in the ‘Help’ section of your iCarol system. If you have questions or want to add Taxonomy to your iCarol system, log a case with us and we’ll be happy to work with you!

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