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Live Chat and SMS
Frequently Asked Questions

close of of a woman's hands texting on a mobile phone close of of a woman's hands texting on a mobile phone

Live Chat and SMS
Frequently Asked Questions

What is iCarol “Messaging?”

iCarol “Messaging” refers to two specific iCarol capabilities – Live Chat or SMS/Texting. These are software features that can be added on to any iCarol system and they are integrated in with all the other iCarol modules you use. You might choose to offer Live Chat, SMS/Texting, or both services.

What is Live Chat?
iCarol Live Chat allows consumers of your services and other help-seekers to start a conversation with you from a chat module that appears on your website. Once the person begins a Live Chat session from your website, they will be using their device of choice to chat with you. Your counselors or staff will use iCarol to correspond with them.
What is SMS/Texting?
iCarol SMS/Texting allows consumers of your services and other help-seekers to send your organization text/SMS messages using their mobile phone. Once the person sends you a SMS/Text, they will be using their mobile/cell phone send texts back and forth with you. Your counselors or staff will use iCarol to correspond with them.
Why should I choose iCarol for Live Chat or SMS/Texting?
Simply put: iCarol is the best option for non-profit, social and human services organizations who want to offer these channels to their community. We understand how the business and messaging needs of your organization differ from a for-profit business that wants to offer Live Chat or SMS/Texting to provide general customer service. iCarol Messaging tools such as pre-chat triaging, pre and post conversation surveys, integrated risk assessments, resource and referral, HIPAA and other privacy considerations, and others were built with your specific industry in mind.
Can I used iCarol for Chat and Text only?

Yes! We understand that not all organizations require the full suite of iCarol’s tools. Some agencies have their contact documentation and other day-to-day needs met with another software solution, and are not in a place where they are looking to replace it. If you are simply looking for a solution for Live Chat and SMS/Text only for your organization, please contact us! We can even discuss exciting ways that iCarol may be able to integrate with your existing solutions to maximize efficiency while bringing your community the communication channels they desire.

What number will people use to text my organization?

This is one of the choices you will make when you decide to use iCarol SMS/Texting, and there are several options available.

  • iCarol can procure a new, 10-digit phone number that is local to your area and can be used to accept SMS/Text Messages in iCarol.

  • iCarol can secure a “short code” which is a five or six digit number that you can use to accept SMS/Text Messages in iCarol.

  • You can work with us to “Text enable” a 10-digit or 1-800 number you already own so that this number can be used to accept text messages through your iCarol system. This process involves filing a request and working with the entity through which you originally acquired that number. They must authorize iCarol to use the phone number for texting purposes in our software. If you still use that number to take voice calls, that process should not be affected and you can still accept phone calls through that number. In order to find out if text-enabling a number is an option, we must begin that application process. At this time the application process is the only way to discover whether or not a phone number can be text-enabled with iCarol.

Do my staff have to use their mobile phones to carry on Text/SMS conversations with people?
While the person reaching out to you will send you a Text/SMS message using their smartphone, your counselors and staff will use iCarol to hold the conversation and send Text messages back to them.
My Chat or Texting services won’t be offered 24/7. How do I prevent messages from arriving if I’m not online?

You will set your online/offline times for Messaging using your iCarol Shift Calendar feature. If you have a Chat or SMS shift set up and someone is staffed on that shift, then your Messaging service will be online. If no one is assigned to the Messaging shift, or if there is no Messaging shift at that time, then your services will be offline. Staff authorized to access the Messaging module of iCarol can also use a simple on/off toggle for the Message service to take it offline temporarily without making changes to the Shift Calendar.

If you are not currently within a staffed Messaging shift, your Live Chat module on your website will be unavailable and new conversations can’t be initiated there. For SMS/Texting, because someone can send a text to anyone they want at any time, including your organization, you cannot necessarily prevent people from trying to text you. However, iCarol has several tools that help in this instance. Using iCarol, you will set up SMS Auto Responses that are sent back to a person in certain instances, such as when you are offline. You can configure these messages to say whatever you want, for example alerting a person that you are not currently available by SMS/Text and advise them to call your service instead.

iCarol also offers a report in your Statistics module that will show you the text messages that were sent to you while you were offline, so that you can try to reply to the person when you are within a SMS/Texting shift. Seeing how many SMS messages come in after your set hours is also a good way to gauge demand for expansion of your hours and justify requests for funding.

How do I provide Resource/Referral information to someone on a Chat or Text conversation?
Each iCarol system has a Resource Database component that allows you to build and curate an inventory of services that you can give as referrals. This database is fully available and searchable during your Messaging conversations. You can select appropriate referrals for your chat visitor and send that information through to the conversation. You also have the option to send referrals by email.
Can my counselors carry on two or more Chat or SMS/Text conversations at once?
iCarol supports your business decisions and policies. If you want to allow your counselors to engage in several Chat or SMS conversations at one time, that is possible with our software. Your counselor or staff can have multiple conversation windows open at once. One of the benefits of offering Messaging services is the ability to handle more than one conversation at once, which means you help more people and fewer people are kept waiting.
Is there a limit to how many Chat/SMS counselors I can have in my iCarol system?
No! Unlike other software that allows only a certain number of “seats” or user licenses, or charges more based on the number of people accessing it, iCarol allows you to add an unlimited number of volunteers, staff, managers, board members, and others to have access to your iCarol system, with no impact on your subscription pricing.
Can I collect data from my Chat and SMS/Text conversations?
Yes! We recognize that proper documentation and data collection is important for your organization to obtain funding and track needs and service gaps. In iCarol, this documentation happens in a Contact Form. This form is available for counselor notes, collecting demographic information, collecting needs data, and any other information you may need for your reporting purposes.
Once the conversation is over, will the transcript be saved?

This is your choice to make according to your business policies. Many organizations wish to save transcripts for quality assurance and training purposes, as well as to preserve a record of the person’s needs and what was discussed. We also understand that due to confidentiality and privacy policies, some organizations want there to be no record of the transcript once the conversation is over. And some organizations wish to keep transcripts for some period of time, but want them destroyed eventually.

With iCarol, you decide how you want to handle preservation of Chat or SMS transcripts. Transcripts can be digitally “shredded” after a period of time, kept forever, or never moved into the permanent Contact Record at all.

How do I access the data I put into iCarol? Who owns it? Can I export it?
Our philosophy is that our clients own the data, and we are simply the stewards of it by storing it securely for you. You can export this data for offline use at any time. This includes data around Shifts, Volunteer/Staff system users, your Resource Database, Profiles and Contact Record Data including Chat/SMS Transcripts, Security/Logon information, and more.
How does iCarol approach privacy laws like HIPAA?

We are well acquainted with privacy laws like HIPAA (US), PIPEDA (Canada) and Data Protection Act and GDPR (UK and Europe). We have safeguards and processes so that we do our part to help you maintain compliance with these laws, and sign Business Associate Agreements with each of our customers.

iCarol is very mindful of privacy, confidentiality, and any concerns around HIPAA compliance. iCarol is owned by Harris Computer Systems which provides mission critical software solutions for the Public Sector, Healthcare, Utilities and Private Sector verticals throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Along with other Harris Business Units who manage Personal Identifiable information (PII) and Personal Health Information (PHI), iCarol performs annual Risk Assessments with the Harris Security Team. The Security Team monitors the timeline to address any identified mitigation activities. We also work with Harris’ legal and compliance team on any questions related to HIPAA compliance. iCarol provides the tools for our customers to operate their businesses in a HIPAA compliant manner. We also sign BAA agreements with each customer organization who plans to use iCarol to store PII and PHI.

Do you offer a free trial?

Yes, we do offer a free trial of an iCarol system equipped with Live Chat. Unfortunately we cannot offer free trials of SMS/Texting at this time. There are non-refundable expenses associated with setting up a Texting service, including procuring a number to use or text-enabling an existing number, as well as other SMS regulatory costs. For this reason we cannot offer free trials of 2-way texting conversations. However, we can absolutely demo this product for you or engage in testing with you in our demo system. Please schedule a meeting with us to discuss starting your free trial.

Learn more about how iCarol can help your organization!