Live Chat and Texting
For a variety of reasons — Privacy, personal preference, convenience, culture, availability of technology — people are abandoning the phone call in favor of typed communication like texting or engaging in a live chat over the web. If you want stay relevant and reach everyone in need of help, you must offer your services over these new channels in addition to the traditional ones. When you use iCarol, people who are more comfortable with typing than with talking on the phonecan initiate a Live Chat session from your public website, or they can text into your center from their mobile phone. Either way, your counselors, volunteers, and staff respond to them from within iCarol, using the same tools and information they would use on phone calls. iCarol makes it easy to get started!
What Can You Do With iCarol Messaging?
Segment Your Different Chat/SMS Services
Many of our customers don’t just have one Live Chat and SMS service — they have several. With iCarol it is easy to tailor different chat “portals” to serve each population differently.
iCarol gives you the option of setting up multiple iCarol Messaging portals to reflect different populations you may serve (such as domestic violence, teens, disaster response, and more) or the different programs you operate. Each different “portal” can have its own pool of qualified staff and volunteers, as well as its own hours of availability. When someone initiates a new conversation, your counselors can easily see which “portal” it’s coming in on and can respond appropriately. Of course your statistics and reporting will also give you keen insight into the issues and demographics of your visitors in each portal.
Restrict by Location
Limit your live chat and texting service to just the geographical areas that you serve.
In some cases, in order to meet obligations to your board, stakeholders, partners, and funders, and to keep volume at a manageable level, Live Chat or SMS/Text services need to be restricted to a specific region. With iCarol you have the option to restrict the availability of your Messaging service to certain geographic areas. If a person in the public attempts to register for a Live Chat or Texting conversation that is out of the service area you’ve defined, they can be gently informed they don’t qualify and can be offered alternative services that may be available in their area.
Set up customized common messages, such as a standard initial greeting or “goodbye” message, so that your staff can save time and easily insert them into chat conversations.
Often in your conversations, you may find that certain messages or phrases are frequently typed and sent to a visitor. This may be your general “hello” greeting or your closing, or other types of messages you may find yourself sending often. In iCarol you can set up customized common messages so that your staff can easily insert them into chat conversations by selecting one of the standard messages you have created — saving your counselors time and helping them manage multiple chats more effectively, and providing consistent messaging.
Join Networks and Collaborations
Create or join a network that serves people locally, state/provincewide, regionally, or nationally.
Many of our customers band together to offer extended hours and more available counselors to the public. iCarol makes this easy by connecting each partner’s iCarol system into a network that appears as one service to the public. This way, counselor availability and hours of operation represent the aggregate total from all participating centers, and new conversation requests are routed to the best available counselor at any of the partners.
By doing this you can “load balance” to handle demand and also cover more of the clock than you might be able to on your own. If you would like to join such a network but don’t have access to one, or are looking to contract your Messaging services to a qualified third party, we would be happy to introduce you to our customers who are experienced providing these services and who may be able to collaborate with you.
Collect Data and Provide Quality Assurance
Initiate pre and post-conversation surveys
Before your clients begin their Live Chat or SMS/Texting conversation, they can be asked to provide basic demographics, information about why they’re seeking help, or whatever else you may need to know. And after the conversation you can ask more questions to gauge your impact and customer satisfaction.
Your integrated iCarol Resource Database/Service Inventory is available across all communication channels.If you maintain a referral database in iCarol, that database is readily available in Live Chat and SMS/Texting conversations to help your visitors find specialized services to meet their needs. You can easily search your iCarol resource database and review records that may be of use to the client. Once you find one, a simple “click” selects the referral and pops it onto your client’s screen.
Send Outbound SMS Messages
Use SMS/Text messages to follow-up with clients or send shift reminders and other notifications to your staff and volunteers.
iCarol SMS/Texting can be used for both inbound and outbound SMS conversations. Use iCarol Outbound SMS/Texting to
- Text referral information to a caller for their convenience
- Follow-up with someone who has reached you before for quality assurance or safety planning to reduce suicide risk
- Send shift reminders and other SMS notifications to your staff and volunteers
Different Communication Channels, Similar Workflow
It shouldn’t matter what communication channel someone uses to contact you, having a similar workflow streamlines your process, makes training easier, and saves time.
All of the interactions with your center —phone, Live Chat, SMS/Texting, public intake forms, etc.— are stored as Contact Records in one common place in iCarol, making it easy for you to find, manage and report upon the work your people are doing.
When a Live Chat or SMS/Text conversation ends, your volunteers and staff can document additional information in the Contact Form if needed before submitting it. Any pre- and post-chat survey information are also securely stored in these related Contact Records. Once an interaction is stored, it is available for review by your supervisory staff where they can provide feedback to the counselor for continuous improvement.
All these interaction are included in the powerful reporting capabilities in iCarol, allowing you to see outcomes and operational indicators that are vital to your board an funders, and can also be used to continue improving your services
Display Real-time Availability
Visitors to your public website can see when you are online, and initiate a chat session when you are.
We make it super easy for you to place the availability of your chat service right on your public website. Simply places a custom piece of code on your chosen web page(s), and your online/offline availability automatically adjusts based on the Chat shifts you set up in your iCarol system. There’s no need to have our Support Team turn your availability on or off, and you don’t need to constantly edit your web page.
When you are online and ready to accept new incoming sessions, the visitor simply clicks on a link to register for a session and engage with one of your available counselors in a Live Chat. If you’re not currently accepting chats, visitors can see when your next chat session is scheduled to occur and be directed to a service that is currently available, such as your phone line.
Supervise and Silent Monitor Staff and Volunteers
Supervision and quality assurance is an important part of what you do.
In most helpline settings, senior volunteers or supervisors may silently monitor calls for the purposes of coaching or giving feedback. The same is possible with Live Chat and Texting in iCarol. You can allow a Supervisor or Admin to join a chat conversation without being detected by the counselor or visitor for easy supervision, training and counselor support without disrupting the conversation.
Can you use iCarol just for Chat or Text? Yes! Contact us for information.
Ready to Get Started?