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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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Harness your Contact Record data with the Contact Record Outbound API

In the past we’ve talked about APIs and how they help you do more with your data, especially in existing or potential partnerships. To briefly review, API stands for Application Program Interface, and it allows electronic systems to interact with each other without the need for the direct human intervention. That is, with an API no person needs to direct data traffic between two systems — the systems just talk directly to each other behind the scenes.

Much of iCarol’s discussion regarding APIs so far has been in reference to our Resource API, which allows you to take your resource data and use it to create custom searchable websites, build mobile apps, or contribute resource data to other projects. For instance, we have customers who have partnered with local libraries, hospitals and prisons to host their community’s service inventory on the partner’s website. Rather than the partner having to build and curate their own resource database, they pay their local Information and Referral service who uses iCarol to provide the information.

One thing is for certain: APIs are a leading way for our clients to harness their data and open up new avenues for partnerships and revenue streams. Now, this exciting technology is available for another area within the iCarol suite: Contact Records (a.k.a. Call Reports).

The Contact Record Outbound API provides a way for you to take the data from a submitted Contact Record and push it to an awaiting “restful API web service” or “webhook,” which would typically be owned or provided by the entity you are working with. The Contact Record data is pushed or transmitted one way.

How could you use this new data sharing capability at your organization? A few ideas:

  • Send all the contact record data you collect to a funder or partner’s system as part of your contracted service.
  • Send just the contact record data you collect in specific forms, such as intake forms, when contracted to provide a service for an entity such as a hospital, insurer, mobile crisis team, or other service provider.
  • Send contact record data to collaborative reporting systems or dashboards for trend analysis, and data-driven community planning to influence public policy.

At iCarol, it’s one of our deeply held beliefs that your data belongs to you. We see it as part of our mission and stewardship of that data to help you harness it to do more good in your community, provide continuity of care to people in need, and enhance your relevance and marketability as a community partner and vital provider of services. The Contact Record Outbound API gives you one more way to participate in collaborative partnerships, leverage your talents to help more people, and increase your funding.

If you are an iCarol customer who would like to learn more, please open a case with our Support Team. Not a customer yet? Contact us here.

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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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  • The terms they are a changin’ – an update on going beyond “calls”

    Awhile back we shared our intentions to make some changes to the terminology we use when talking about certain iCarol features and capabilities. Namely, referring to “callers” or “calls” as the standard when talking about the people served and how you serve them. Before we go any further, let’s backup and review…

    Recap – Why the changes?

    iCarol was inspired by the volunteer experiences of our founders in a helpline environment, which were, at the time, very much rooted in call taking as the method of engaging with and helping people in need. Over the years, new technologies that lend themselves to different and expanded ways of communicating only grew in popularity and availability, and iCarol adapted as a result by enabling into the software communication channels like Live Chat, Texting/SMS, and connecting clients with services through a public website, for example Online Forms and the Public Resource Directory.

    The fact is, iCarol is such a flexible solution that since the very beginning our customers have used it for far more than just phone-based work. But, much of the terminology we use when talking about our software centers around calls. For example, the functionality used to document interactions with clients and collect necessary information has historically been called “Call Reports” or “Call Report Forms,” and the area of your system where these interactions are logged is titled “Calls.” There are other examples like “Caller Profile” and “Phone Worker” being used throughout our public website and web application (aka “web app”).

    We want to be more inclusive and consider the broad scope of how iCarol is actually used by our clients by using terminology that actually reflects its full potential. It’s important that we do this so that our current customers feel their work is understood and respected by the iCarol team, but also so that potential clients understand that iCarol is the solution for them, and ensuring they don’t mistakenly think its capabilities are limited and can’t meet their organization’s needs.

    What is changing?

    After surveying our clients and having internal discussions, we have settled on some new terminology to transition to:

      Current term New term(s)
      Calls (as seen on the left main menu of iCarol) Contacts
      Call Report or Call Report Form Contact Form/Contact Record
      Caller Profiles Profiles
      Phone Worker Vol/Staff, Volunteer or Staff, Worker
      Caller Help seeker, Person in need, Client
    It’s important to note that these changes are cosmetic only, and none of these changes should impact the way iCarol works or how you use the software to complete tasks.

    When will these changes occur?

    We have already begun making changes throughout our public website to reflect the broader scope of how people can and do use iCarol. You may also notice these newer terms on our blogs and other public-facing content, and they may be used by members of our team when they’re answering your questions or working with you on Support cases.

    In regards to the iCarol software that you sign into and use each day, changing terms there will take longer to implement. We are still in the process of analyzing all the areas that need to change, and we will then decide what areas to prioritize and organize our efforts before any changes will begin. When we do begin changing terms in web app, you will find these changes will happen in phases and for a time there may be some inconsistencies, i.e. some pages use the new terms while others still use the old ones. We appreciate your patience through the process. When we know more about when you can expect to start seeing these changes in iCarol, we will communicate that on the blog and the iCarol Dashboard.

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    New feature: Scheduled Exports

    iCarol offers multiple ways for you to retrieve the data you put into your system. You can use our Statistics area to access dozens of available-on-demand charts and graphs that present information that our clients most commonly need to meet their reporting requirements. You can also apply numerous filters to these reports, drilling directly in to uncover the desired information. This area is a sufficient source of information for most of your basic reporting needs.

    But, we understand that others may want or need to run cross tabulations, pivot tables, or otherwise customize their reporting experience a bit further. Our users can extract their raw data files for further analysis in external programs like Microsoft Access or Excel, or simply export the data for offline storage. These data tables contain every last detail about activities like your shifts, volunteer and staff profiles, the records in your resource database, and contact records including the data from contact record text entry fields, among other activities.

    Our philosophy is this: The data you put into iCarol is YOUR data— we are simply the stewards of it by keeping it stored and protected for you, and so of course you should have access to it as needed. Many of our users choose to go to the Admin Tools area of iCarol to export this data on a regular basis. However, this does require taking a few steps to initiate the download, then waiting for the export to complete before you can begin your analysis.

    We’ve created an enhancement to the Admin Tools export area: Scheduled Exports. Using this feature, our users can schedule an automatic export to occur. This export can be delivered in your iCarol system just as the manual exports, or you can set a path to a S/FTP that you’ve provided for this data to be delivered to.

    Each iCarol customer is allotted one free monthly scheduled export to use in their system.

    This feature is also available as a subscription — you may add on several scheduled exports to your iCarol system for a nominal monthly cost. When you subscribe to this feature, you may choose from multiple time frames for the scheduled exports to occur: Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly, or Annually. If you find yourself needing to export information on a repeat basis throughout your reporting cycles, having these files exported automatically is a convenient and time-saving solution.

    To add your free monthly scheduled export, log into iCarol and navigate to the Help area to read our detailed Help Articles with step-by-step instructions (simply search for “Scheduled Export”).

    And, if you want to save even more time and have more exports automatically delivered on a recurring basis, open a case with the Support Team to get started!

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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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    iCarol Team in Dallas for User Group Summit and AIRS Conference

    Beginning Sunday, June 3, several members of the iCarol team will be in Dallas, Texas for our annual User Group Summit followed by the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems conference. In attendance will be:

      Rachel Wentink, Vice President, Operations
      Polly McDaniel, Director of Business Development
      Crystal McEachern, Senior Product Manager
      Val Kozintsev, Development Team Manager

    Sean Higgins, Executive Vice President of Cityview, the division of Harris of which iCarol is now a part, will also join us for the Summit and early portion of the conference so he can learn more about the information and referral industry and meet the 2-1-1 and other I&R clients we regularly work with.

    We’ll start our time in Dallas with our annual User Group Summit, on Sunday, June 3 beginning at 9am. This free, all-day iCarol training is aimed at iCarol users and prospective customers with anywhere from beginner to advanced usage experience with iCarol. The day is a chance for our team to focus in on a few key areas of iCarol capabilities and teaching our users how to leverage their iCarol system for the biggest impact.

    This year we’ll present two training sessions at the Summit. Our first session of the morning is called Build a Better Picture: Using iCarol Statistics. That session will help attendees identify their reporting needs so they can then build out their contact forms and work flows to support those needs. We’ll take users through an overview of iCarol Statistics with a heavy focus on the analysis tab of reports, discuss Met and Unmet Needs reporting, and talk a bit about how to access data for more advanced reporting needs.

    Following a brief break, the second session of the morning is titled Do More Together: Are You Ready? and will focus collaboration with partners. There are a multitude of ways you can use iCarol to partner with both fellow iCarol users, and outside organizations that don’t use iCarol. The session will take attendees through the tangible steps to evaluate readiness and then prepare to communicate with potential partners about collaboration. Attendees will leave with an outline and use cases to help them begin to build successful sharing relationships.

    Attendees will then be released for lunch on their own, and then we’ll reconvene at 1:45pm for a traditional User Group session. All are welcome to the User Group Session, even if they did not register for the sessions held earlier in the day. In the User Group session, we’ll share a summary of the enhancements made to iCarol in the previous year, and speak to the upcoming developments in the works and coming soon. We’ll gain feedback from attendees and use their account of trends, themes, and common requests to help us prioritize upcoming and future developments that will best meet the needs of our customers.

    If you’re heading to Dallas and will be in town by Sunday morning, it’s not too late to register for the User Group Summit. You can learn more and register here.

    From there, the AIRS Conference sessions officially begin on Monday morning. Attendees can come visit us at booths 103 and 104 where we’ll have some items to hand out, including a number of data sheet flyers on a variety of topics of interest to conference attendees, including resource data sharing, offering centralized intake, ensuring continuity of care, dispatching mobile crisis services, and information on iCarol data privacy and security. As always we’ll welcome your questions, comments, and conversation on what’s going on at your organization. We always enjoy the opportunity to talk to you about the projects and partnerships you’re engaging in and investigate how we could potentially contribute to that.

    We hope to see you in Dallas!

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    iCarol’s Resource API Supports Open Referral’s HSDS 1.1 schema

    We’ve long promoted the idea that data sharing can help our clients build coalitions and partnerships, make a greater positive impact in their communities, and create new revenue streams for the organizations. One way we’ve adapted iCarol to make this easier for them is to build support for the Open Referral data standard in iCarol. If you like, before you read about the announcements we’ll go over in this blog, you may wish to get a refresher course on what data standards are, how they make such collaboration possible across different software systems and databases, and why Open Referral in particular has been adopted in iCarol.

    Today we’re excited to announce two new and exciting iCarol Resource API enhancements, which now extends support for the Open Referral’s HSDS 1.1 schema and a full list of resources. Both of these new enhancements are designed to help you with your sharing collaborations and to access new funding opportunities.

    iCarol is the first major I&R Software vendor to support emitting resource data that is fully compliant with HSDS 1.1 and the HSDA specification. For over a year iCarol subscribers have had access to downloading resource files from iCarol in the HSDS 1.0 schema, but we are pleased to now announce support for an updated HSDS 1.1 schema in the iCarol Resource API! You can read more about this schema here: Human Services Data Specification (HSDS). This schema creates a common language for software applications to share information across platforms.

    Our clients in current sharing relationships using our iCarol Resource API have also asked for a way to access a full list of all resources available in their system, or even better, to filter that list by records last updated. We are happy to announce a new Resource API feature allowing a simplified, unpaged list of resources to be returned allowing your data partners to better access and use your resources in external projects.

    We know that the ability to share data and to collaborate with your partners both within and outside of iCarol is important to you. Sharing resources can also open up new revenue opportunities in your communities. If you would like more information about how iCarol can help you success with your sharing and collaborative projects, contact us — we are here to help!

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    iCarol Webinar: Marketing Methods That Boost Your Chat/Text Engagement

    Are you concerned that the volume of Chat or Text traffic coming through to your service is lower than you were expecting it would be? Or, are you in the planning stages of adding a Chat or Text service to your center and want to develop a plan for alerting the community to this new way to access your program?

    Join us on Monday, April 9 at 2pm EDT for a Q&A webinar with a panel of staff members operating successful Chat and Text programs to hear about how they communicated their service offerings to their communities. Can’t make it? Fear not! We’ll have the recording available to watch at your convenience.

    Learn More and Register

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    Registration Open for Annual iCarol User Group Summit

    On Sunday, June 3 in Dallas, Texas, members of our team will hold our annual iCarol User Group Summit. This Summit happens each year the day before the AIRS Conference sessions begin, and throughout the day we hold trainings on iCarol functionality of particular interest to the Information and Referral industry. We end our day with a traditional User Group session to discuss the latest enhancements to the software and the planned developments ahead. We also welcome your input and suggestions during this user group session, so that we can continue to evaluate and prioritize the enhancements currently on our development schedule.

    If you’ll be at the AIRS conference this year, we hope you’ll join us on Sunday for this free event. Click the button below to learn more about the User Group Summit and register to be there!

    Register Now

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