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iCarol End-of-Year Housekeeping Tasks

As the end of 2018 approaches, we want to take the opportunity to provide some housekeeping tasks for you to review. We know how busy you are every day of the year, and even if you already have processes in place for these tasks, getting them done might fall to the bottom of your to-do list sometimes. Now is a good time to review these housekeeping tasks to help you get the most out of your iCarol system, while you’re getting ready for another exciting year!

    Review Draft Contact Forms

    It’s a good idea to designate a user with appropriate permissions to review all Contact Forms in DRAFT and ensure they’re either submitted or deleted by the end of the year. This is important because any Contact Forms in draft mode aren’t included in Statistics or Data Exports reports, so you could be missing import reporting data if forms documenting completed calls are left in draft mode. And erroneous drafts can clutter up your draft list, making it harder for your staff to see the drafts that actually need to be reviewed and completed. To learn more about draft Contact Records, read this related help article.

    Draft call report forms

    Set Obsolete Contact Record Custom Fields To “Inactive” Status

    The information you need to collect on your Contact Forms may periodically change. For example, perhaps a project your helpline participates in ends, and you no longer need to collect that piece of data. It helps keep your forms tidy, and reduces time spent by your volunteers, if these unnecessary fields are hidden from the form entirely. This cleanup can be done at any time, but the end of the year is a perfect time to review the relevancy of your form’s fields. To learn more, read this related help article.

    Disable inactive call report form filter

    Disable Inactive Custom Fields in Contact Forms from Appearing in Statistics Call Content Filters

    If you’ve made changes to your Contact Forms, and set any custom fields to ‘inactive’ because they were no longer being used, now is a good time to review those inactive custom fields, and determine if the setting to ‘Use as a filter in Statistics’ should be disabled. If you no longer need to run reports on this information, it may help to have that filter removed from the list entirely. This way, your reporting staff will only see applicable filters when applying them to reports, saving them time as they browse through the list of filters. To learn more, read this related help article.

    Call Report Editor Use as filter in statistics

    Disable Vols-Staff from Accessing iCarol

    It’s likely you had users leave your organization throughout the past year for any number of reasons. Even if you have a process in place already for what to do when users leave your organization, now is a good time to review your Vols-Staff profiles to ensure you’ve disabled users from accessing iCarol, when appropriate. This not only keeps them from accessing data they are no longer authorized to have, but also ensures they won’t be called or emailed by your active volunteers for help covering a shift. To learn more, read this related help article.

    Disable volunteer access

    Review Organization Contacts

    During the year your designated Billing or Support Contacts may have left your organization, but you forgot to update your iCarol system accordingly with this information. To avoid unpaid invoices or delays in sending Support requests, it’s good to occasionally make sure the proper contacts are assigned to these roles. Read this help article to learn more about your organization’s designated contacts, and how and why to keep them up to date.

    Designate contacts

    Backup Resources

    It’s best practice to periodically create a backup file of your Resources, in case you need to access them offline for any reason. These files can then be especially helpful if your organization experiences problems with internet connection, but you are still able to handle interactions (i.e. take phone calls, or handle walk-in requests) and provide referrals. You can create this backup file using our standard Resources Data Export tool, or even better, use the Specialized Exports of Resources to Word/Excel feature if your organization is subscribed to it, which provides even more flexibility in how these exports are presented and organized. Use the links above to read the related help articles to learn more about each tool to create a backup of your Resources.

    Extract data

    Backup Contact Records

    It’s also a good idea to create an offline, back-up copy of your Contact Records for your users to access in case your organization ever experiences problems with internet connection. Depending on the complexity of your forms, you may wish to simply save a printable version of your Contact Forms for your users to print out, or for more complex Contact Forms you may wish to transpose your Contact Forms into an editable document so your users can fill out the form on the computer. Some of our users even create paper copies for use in the event of a full power outage. Then, once internet connection is re-established, you should have a process in place to enter the data into iCarol so the interactions are included in statistical reporting.

It’s likely your organization already has processes in place to complete most of these tasks throughout the year. But if you don’t, now might be a good time to consider if you want to develop any processes for the new year to help you stay on track with completing these tasks on a regular basis so you’re optimizing your iCarol system.

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What is the Pre-Chat Survey Queue Indicator and How is it Used?

The Pre-Chat Survey Queue Indicator gives your organization the ability to include questions in your pre-chat survey that, depending on the answer selected, triggers a corresponding indicator with the conversation when it’s under ‘Waiting in Queue’ and ‘Your conversations’ (found on the main Messaging page). This can be used to aid your volunteers and staff to quickly triage/identify which conversation they should join next based on how the help seeker has answered specific questions set up by your organization.

Your organization may wish to use this feature to indicate any of the following for your conversations:

  • Needs: Add one or more questions for the help seeker to identify their need or concern (e.g. mental health, finances, relationships, etc.)
  • Contract Type: Add one or more questions for the help seeker to identify what contract/service they are inquiring about (e.g. mobile crisis intake, tax assistance, health insurance navigators, coordinated access, etc.)
  • Risk Level: Add one or more questions for the help seeker to answer that can be used to gauge their risk. (e.g. suicide, self-harm, or runaway/homelessness risk)

For example, you may wish to include a question like the one you see highlighted below:

Depending on how the help seeker answers that question, when the conversation appears on your main Messaging page, you’ll see the indicator associated with the answer that your organization setup:

Notice in the screenshot above the text box with some additional information about the help seekers’ concern; this appears when your vols-staff hover their mouse over the indicator and can help them further prioritize which conversation they should join next.

In the example we’ve been looking at, we chose to include just one question that is used to determine which indicator appears for the conversation. But, you have the option to include multiple questions to determine which indicator appears for the conversation. Let’s look at one possible way you could set up multiple questions to use for this feature. For example, you may wish to ask the three questions highlighted below to assess a help seeker’s risk for suicide and create corresponding indicators for High, Medium and Low Risk. Values you assign to each answer will determine the ultimate risk level that appears on the main Messaging page:

The Pre-Chat Survey Queue Indicator feature is included with all Live Chat Messaging subscriptions. If your organization is interested in finding out more about this feature or wants to get started with the setup, sign in to your iCarol system and click here to read the related help article to learn more.

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What is the iCarol Assessment Gauge, and How is it Used?

The iCarol Assessment Gauge is a highly configurable feature that is included with your core subscription to iCarol. It is most commonly used to assess two different situations: Eligibility or Risk.

What is it?

The Assessment Gauge is a series of questions you can embed into your iCarol Contact Form. Potential answers to each question are presented in a matrix format. Behind the scenes, the answers for each question have a weighted score. As a specialist goes through the assessment and marks an appropriate answer, these answers help form an overall quantitative measurement of either risk or eligibility, depending on how the form is being used.

The way you use and setup the Assessment Gauge is entirely up to your organization. Some examples of situations in which your organization might make use of the Assessment Gauge could be, but are not limited to the following:

Eligibility Assessment Examples:

  • Follow-Up Eligibility
  • Health Insurance Enrollment Eligibility
  • Tax Assistance Eligibility
  • Mobile Crisis Team Referral Eligibility

Risk Assessment Examples:

  • Mental Health Intake Priority
  • Suicide Risk Assessment
  • Disaster Risk Assessment
  • Domestic Violence Assessment
  • Homeless Diversion Program Assessment

This feature has been available for several years in iCarol, however we have made updates to the tool with the Contact Forms V5 Upgrade, including:

  • More user friendly with an updated look
  • Faster response as you answer questions
  • Scrolls with the page instead of being stationed in the top right corner

    You can choose to add the Assessment Gauge directly within an existing contact form:

    Or create a new related form for assessments that only take place during a sub-set of your interactions.

    You could also add the assessment in both contexts; one on the original or “parent” form, and others on related forms. It’s important to note that there can only be one assessment on each iCarol Contact Form.

    How it works

    As users answer the assessment questions, the gauge moves up or down depending on how the answers are weighted, something decided and set up by your organization. Below is an example of how a set of questions in a suicide assessment may add up to create the gauge shown below. Based on the weights of the answers, this person was assessed as being very high risk.

    To learn more about this feature and learn how to get started with setting it up in your system, read this help article and have a designated Support Contact from your organization submit a case requesting assistance.

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  • Closing and Hiding Automated Verification Requests

    The Automated Verification Request/Response (AVR) feature in iCarol helps you keep resource records reliable and up-to-date, and saves hundreds of hours when compared to sending manual emails, letters, or making phone calls. But, you may find over time the list of Requests sent by you, or your organization, may become long and therefore hard to determine what requests are still open.

    If you use the AVR feature, it’s also likely your organization has setup a Verification Process, in which you set a certain number of times you’ll reach out to an organization requesting an update be made, and specify the ways in which you’ll reach out to organizations. For example, you may have a Verification Process setup where you send 2 emails to an organization, then if they don’t respond X weeks after the 2nd email is sent, you may try calling the organization twice, and so on and so forth.

    For this reason, and more, it’s helpful to keep the list of open Requests updated so it can be used as a tool to help keep track of your Verification Process. You can keep this list updated using the buttons at the bottom of each Request to ‘Close’ or ‘Hide’ the request, depending on your desired outcome, in combination with the filters available on this page for which ‘Existing Verification Requests’ you want to include in this list.

    automated verification requests

    Updates were recently made to the buttons that control which Requests appear on the list as Open, which ones appear as Closed, and which ones are Hidden. The updates made these buttons more meaningful and user-friendly, making it so each button has a slightly different outcome. The three buttons available to choose from are ‘Hide this request on the list’, ‘Mark the Request as Closed’, and ‘Mark as Verified and Close’, and each button causes different changes to happen within the resource records included in the Request you’ve selected.

    Depending on which button you choose, the changes are as follows:

    1. ‘Mark the Request as Closed’ will:
      • change the status in the list of requests to ‘Closed’ so it can be filtered from appearing in the list
      • cause no change to the ‘Last Verified…’ or ‘Verifier’s…’ data
      • make the Request links sent to verifiers inactive, making it impossible to submit a Response for this particular Request
    2. ‘Mark the Request as Verified and Close’, will:
      • change the status in the list of requests to ‘Closed’ so it can be filtered from appearing in the list
      • change existing date in the ‘Last Verified…’ and ‘Verifier’s…’ fields, unless a Response has been submitted by a resource included in the Request
      • make the Request links sent to verifiers inactive, making it impossible to submit a Response for this particular Request
    3. ‘Hide this request on the list’, will:
      • cause no change to the ‘Last Verified…’ or ‘Verifier’s…’ data
      • permanently remove the Request from appearing in the list of requests on the left side of the page; once you do this, there is no way to un-hide the request
      • make the Request links sent to the verifiers remain active, making it possible for a verifier to still submit a Response for this particular Request

    After you have your Requests marked as ‘Close’ or ‘Hide’, you can use the filters at the top of the Automated Verification Requests page to show only ‘Sent’ Requests, which are any Requests where you haven’t chosen to ‘Close’ or ‘Hide’, or you can use the filters to show only ‘Closed’ requests.

    When you choose to use each button is entirely up to you and your organization, and should be based off your internal processes, but the information outlined in this blog provides all the details and information you’ll need to make the best decision for the work you do! For more information about how to use this tool, you can read the help article ‘How to close or hide an Automated Verification Request’.

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    Call for Feedback on iCarol Training Materials

    As we move further into the new year, we are committed to continuing our focus on expanding and updating our Help Library. With that in mind, we’d like to call out to you for help and ask for your feedback and direct input. We’re asking for this feedback in a variety of ways and we’d love it if you participated in one, or all of them!

    First, we’re calling out for your custom iCarol Training Materials that have been created at your organization! We’re looking for any type of training manuals that have been created for iCarol, for example to teach your users how to document interactions in iCarol, or to teach your resource editors how to maintain resources in your database. The information you send us will be kept confidential, and will only be used for planning purposes. If you’d like to share any iCarol training materials with us, and provide any feedback about existing training materials, please have a designated Support Contact submit a case with your manual(s) included as an attachment.

    Second, we made this survey about your custom iCarol training materials and the existing training available in iCarol. This survey is meant to be filled out by any iCarol user and should only take about 5 minutes to complete. We’d love if you could take a few minutes to fill out the survey and tell us what you think!

    Third, we have launched a “Help Panel Pilot” in the iCarol Ideas Portal as a possible new way of making training materials available to you.

    Notice the ‘PAGE HELP’ button that appears along the right side of the iCarol Ideas Portal page.

    When you click the button, a pop-out appears explaining ‘What is the iCarol Ideas Portal?’ which includes links to additional training materials about the feature.

    Within this Help Panel there is another survey for you to give us your feedback specifically about the pilot project and let us know what you think! This pilot and survey are also meant to be used by any iCarol user so please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts! Please note this pilot is currently only available to iCarol systems on NA0, our default iCarol servers; you can identify if your system is on NA0 because the URLS for all pages in iCarol will begin with “webapp”.

    All of this information will be used to help us prioritize what training tasks should be prioritized this year, based on what you think will make the biggest impact. Your thoughts and opinions about this matter since you are the ones who use the materials the most, so thank you in advance for anything you can add to help us with this goal of continuing to make our iCarol training materials even better!

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    Learning Guides Coming to iCarol on Thursday!

    Are you ready to get started with a new way to learn how to do things in iCarol? We’ve always provided training materials in the form of Help Articles, PowerPoint presentations, Webinars, and Short Training Videos. As talked about in the first blog in this series, we’re working hard to improve our existing training materials, and to create new ones.

    In addition to these learning channels with which you’re already familiar, we are now ready to add what we’re calling ‘Learning Guides’. If you’re a new iCarol subscriber, then you’re likely already familiar with using Learning Guides from your trial. We’re excited to announce that an initial set of Guides will be released to all Admin users on Thursday, September 7th.

    What are Learning Guides and how can they help me?
    Think of these new Learning Guides as activities that will take you through various tasks in iCarol, step-by-step, to help you improve your skills and knowledge within the software. They are a self-serve way to receive active training, and will enable you to learn more about iCarol and perform the actions you need to complete, on your schedule.

    iCarol Learning Guide

    Who will be able to access the Learning Guides?
    During the initial release of Learning Guides, they will only be made available to Admin Level users at your organization, as that is the audience for whom they are written.

    When will the Learning Guides be available?
    The first series of Learning Guides will be released on September 7th. This first series will be related to the upgraded Call Report V5, giving you an overview of the upgrade and teaching you about the new functionality available. But of course, this is just the beginning, and we’ll be releasing more Learning Guides in the upcoming months.

    Where can I access the Learning Guides?
    The Learning Guides will be accessed in the ‘Help’ area of iCarol, through a ‘Get started!’ pop-up menu that will appear at the bottom right corner of the page. Once you click the menu, you will be able to search through sub-categories or use the search bar within this menu to search particular Learning Guides, such as “How to use the new location lookup tool”.

    What’s next?
    After the first series of Learning Guides are released on September 7th, additional series for different areas of iCarol will be released. Your feedback on which Learning Guides you’d like to see created in the future is welcomed, and encouraged! So if you have feedback, we’d love to hear it! If you’re logged into iCarol, you can click this link go to the iCarol Idea ‘Client Training: Learning Guide Feedback’ to submit your feedback. Or you can find the idea by logging into iCarol, clicking the ‘Help’ link in your left side menu, then clicking the link at the top of the page for the ‘iCarol Ideas Portal’. From here you can search for the idea by name using the search bar at the top of this page, or click on ‘Planned’ from the status filter and look for the named idea here (and while there, check out what else is planned!)”

    This blog is the second in a series of blogs that we’ll be releasing to keep you up-to-date on changes you’ll be seeing to the iCarol Help Area. Just in case you missed it, the first blog in the series is named ‘Upcoming Changes to ‘Help’ Area in iCarol’.

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    Upcoming Changes to ‘Help’ Area in iCarol

    Question mark

    Are you familiar with the iCarol Help Library, where you go to watch video tutorials, recordings of training webinars, read help articles, and more? Even if you aren’t familiar with our existing iCarol Help Library, you aren’t going to want to miss the important, exciting news we’re about to share with you!

    In recent years, iCarol has continued to evolve and grow to best meet the needs of our clients. With that growth, we recognize our Help Library needs to be updated to reflect the evolution we’re sure you’ve all seen.

    That is why our team at iCarol is working hard to redesign the entire Help Library as you know it today. The following are some important changes we’d like to highlight that you’ll be seeing in the coming months:

      New Guides: Some users may already be familiar with the ‘Get started!’ menu, which contains Guides that walk you through different tasks that you need to complete in iCarol. Our team is working to develop these Guides to help with your training needs. Watch out for more details in future blogs!

      Update existing training materials: Some training material you may be used to accessing could be unpublished for a variety of reasons. The biggest reason is because we are re-evaluating our existing style guide and making changes to the way information is presented to you. So if you find yourself unable to locate training material you previously had access to, simply have a designated Support Contact from your organization go to Help in the left side menu to submit a case requesting information.

      Overall Redesign: In addition to the changes outlined above, the entire look and flow of the Help Library is being updated to incorporate the same growth you’ve seen in other areas of iCarol. This means if you are used to searching the library a certain way, you will need to be aware of the changes so you can know how to still search for the information you need to find. Watch out for more details in future blogs!

    This blog is the first in a series that we will be releasing throughout the year to keep you informed of the changes you’ll be seeing throughout our Help Library; so, make sure you keep an eye out for more details!

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