You may have noticed some new tabs and tools recently added to your Repeat Caller Profiles. Here’s a look at what they can do.
The Referrals tab shows the most recent referrals from your resource database that were attached to Call Report forms filled out for this caller. They’re listed with the most recent referrals at the top, and older referrals further down the list. Clicking on the Date will take you directly to the finished Call Report where this referral was attached. Clicking on the name of the referral will take you directly to that resource record.
This is a quick way to see what referrals have recently been suggested to your caller, so you can ask them if those referrals have been helpful, or prompt discussions about progress in their situation or treatment plans.
The Follow-ups tab shows approximately 50 of the most recent Follow-up Activities scheduled on Call Reports filled out for the caller. The view here shows the Date on which the Follow-up is due, Status, and Subject line for a quick summary. Like the Referrals tab, each Date is a clickable link that will take you directly to the Call Report form where this Follow-up Activity was assigned.
This can be useful in a number of ways, because even repeat callers can benefit from follow-up calls. Some experts have suggested that receiving a call directly from the helpline during times of high stress or crisis can help repetitive users of the service better respect boundaries or comply with call limits. This list provides a quick way to see how many activities are set up for this caller, the frequency at which they’re being scheduled, and whether they’ve been completed or not.
Public Resource Directory Activity
Each caller profile has a field where an Email can be entered.
We can also enable the capability for visitors to your Public Resource Directory (PRD) to create accounts and save lists. (Contact our Support Team if you’d like to have this enabled for your PRD)
If this client were to create an account on your Public Resource Directory using the same email indicated in their profile, information about when their PRD account was created, when they last logged in to your PRD, and their saved Resource records is shared on the Website tab of the profile.
If you’d like to track this information for any PRD user, our Support Team can set up a process where each new PRD account created will automatically create a Caller Profile in your system. Just ask us to enable this capability for you.
We hope you’ll enjoy using these new features of the Caller Profile. If you encounter any questions, please reach out to the Support Team for help.
Note: This blog describes a process that helps you or your web developers create guided searches of your iCarol Public Resource Directory. While this is still relevant to users of that version of the Public Resource Directory, as of July 3, 2017 a new version of the Public Resource Directory includes a built-in Guided Search builder. Learn more…
Passing parameters from your website to your Public Resource Directory (PRD) is a great and easy way to help guide your users to helpful resources. This feature is included in the Public Resource Directory add-on at no additional cost.
Guided searches can save time, help your users find what they need, and if you use the 211 Taxonomy, can help improve your statistics by encouraging exact Taxonomy searches. Webmasters can pre-load the Public Resource Directory public search page by sending search parameters in the URL hyperlink.
A current example of a client who does this is http://montana211.org/. They put a custom search box on their main page, which was developed by their webmaster. When a search is conducted by a PRD user, they generate a URL for the resulting page. Not only can search terms be passed to the Public Resource Directory (PRD), but other search filters such as location can be passed to the initial search.
Another client who uses pre-populated searches is http://www.211oc.org/211oc-guided-database-search.html. The guided search enables the public users to choose a general category, and then presents them with a list of more specific categories. Once a more specific category is chosen, the public resource directory is pre-populated and the user is presented with a list of appropriate search results.
Basic PRD URL vs. Populated URL
Example of Basic PRD URL:
This link will open the PRD in a new tab/window, with empty search criteria. A user will then have to enter a search term, choose geographic filters to refine their search, and initiate the search by clicking search (or choosing from the drop down list).
Example of a populated PRD search URL:
This link will open the PRD in a new tab/window, but will include populated specific search criteria. iCarol will also complete the query before the page loads for the user, removing the extra step of clicking “search”. The user can change any of the filters or search terms to further refine sequential searches.
How to read the Populated URL
The parameters are passed within a defined section of the URL, and by programming the hyperlinks from your website to the pre-populated URL, you can pass these criteria to the PRD. Search parameter starts with the field name, includes an equals sign (=), then includes the parameter value to pass. Each parameter is separated by an ampersand (&).
You can get the populated URL by completing a search in your PRD system, and copying the URL from the address bar. For a more dynamic approach, your webmaster can use text boxes or drop down boxes to help guide a user’s input.
Understanding Available Parameters
Org – Org is your Organization number, the unique number used by iCarol to represent your system
Country – Geographic Filtering for Country
StateProvince – Geographic Filtering for State or Province
County – Geographic Filtering for County
City – Geographic Filtering for City
PostalCode – Geographic Filtering for Zip/Postal Code
pst – [Coverage | Physical | All ] – Filter resources based on coverage area (“Resources serving”), physical location (“Resources within”), or omit this parameter to use your systems default.
Search – [Food] – Is the actual search term you want to find using the filters above. This can include the name of a specific resource, a general concept or phrase, or be specific such as a customized category or taxonomy term.
Sort – [Alphabetical | Proximity] – Is the sort order that the results will display in.
NameOnly – [True | False] – Set your search type to “Search Names” or “Search All Fields”, or omit this parameter to use your system default.
If your organization wishes to use this feature, or if you have any additional questions on how to use it, please submit a case to the iCarol Support Team via the Online Case Submission Tool, found in your Help menu.
The Automatic Resource Verification tool is a powerful tool used to update and maintain your Resource database. You can create any number of custom Verification Requests, to update large groups of Resources (up to 1,000 records at a time), or only specific records that need to be reviewed. Your Resource Contacts, or Verifiers, receive an email, with a link requesting them to review their information and submit any changes. They are able to work on the update over multiple sessions, and can submit their changes to you for approval when ready.
How to Create an Automatic Verification Request:
1. Log on to iCarol, using an account with Resource Editor privileges.
2. Click on Resources from the left menu, then to the right of the Geographic Filters choose “Verify” which will change the page to allow you to create a request.
3. Choose the automated verification request method (see explanation below) that best meets your needs.
4. Create search query/find the records you wish to include in the automated verification request. Here are some examples:
- Find all Resources with a specific Taxonomy term. eg. “Suicide Issues”, “General Counselling”, “Homeless meals”, “Homeless people”, etc.
- Find all Resources with a specific Keyword/Category term eg. “Meals”, “Income Tax”, etc.
- Find all Resources that have a specific word in their Resource Name. eg. “Meal”, “Counselling”, “Mental Health”, etc.
- Find all Resources that have a specific word or phrase in any field on the Resource Record. eg. “Low income”, “form filling”, etc.
- Find all Resources that have a Custom Field Value chosen. eg. “Update Quarter”, “Update Month”, etc.
5. Apply any additional filters to the request, such as including only Agency or Program Records, Geographic Restrictions, or Resources that have not been updated within a specific time frame. Once you have applied all the filters you wish to the search, click the Search button. You will be presented with a list of resources that meet your search criteria. Here is what the list will look like:
6. Deselect any resources you do not want to send in the request by unchecking them. Please note, as soon as one Resource record is deselected, Setup Method 2 will apply to the automated verification request (see below).
7. Click “Start a verification request with these search results” to configure the automated verification settings.
Note: Only one query can be used per automated verification request. If you want to send a request to all Resources with “Meal”, or “Food” in their name, you will have to create two separate requests, unless you can find a search query that will include records in both searches. This is an example of where Custom Fields may be an option.
Setup Methods for the Automated Verification Request:
Method 1: Preform a search, and create the automated verification request from ALL listed/found resources. As soon as you deselect any displayed Resource, you are now using Method 2. Important to note, the query you use to create a Method 1 automated verification request will be saved, and repeated at the time the request is actually sent. If any changes happen to your Resources between the initial creation of the automated verification request, and when it is sent, all records that are found in the same query will be sent.
Use example: On Monday, you decide to send an automated verification request to all resources that have a “Suicide Issue” term applied. However, you end up busy and unable to send the automated verification request that day, and decide to delay sending it, until Friday. In the meantime, you or other team members have added a new service, and updated the taxonomy/category of other services, with the “Suicide Issue” term. When the automated verification request is sent on Friday, all records that match the initial query will be included, including those that were not included when the automated verification request was first created on Monday.
Method 2: Perform a search, and deselect/select only the specific resources that you want to contact.
Use example: You receive a complaint that an agency “Fruit Rescue Coop” is no longer running. You want to send an automated verification request to just this agency to inquire about the status of their programs.
Explaining the Automated Verification Request Email Settings:
Setting 1 tells the automated verification request what email address to send the request “From”. You can choose to use the iCarol default (which a verifier cannot reply too), or to setup your own “From” email address by contacting iCarol Support. Please note that verifiers are only able to reply to a verification request to you directly, if you setup your own “From” email address.
Setting 2 tells the automated verification request what template you want to use when sending the request. You can setup multiple templates with custom phrasing for your verification requests by using the “Create and edit email templates” link at the top of the automated verification request page.
Setting 3 tells the automated verification request in what order to look for email addresses. The default is “Main Contact” first, “Senior Worker” second, “Last Verified By” third, and “General Email” fourth – however, you can customize this to any order that you prefer. When the automated verification request is sent, it will look into each of these fields, in the order you specify, to determine where to send the request.
Setting 4 tells the automated verification request what records to include in the request. This setting modifies the initial request creation method.
- “To all the Agency’s child records” no matter which setup method you choose for the automated verification request, ALL the agency’s records will be included in the request, even if they do not match the initial query in method 1.
- “To child records only that match the search criteria above” will expand the initial search, to include the resources that match the query in the first method of setting up the automated verification request.
Setting 5 tells the automated verification request what emails to look at to send the request, and if one does not exist, which email to use instead.
- “Ignore the parent Agency, just use whatever email is found in each Program or Site” tells the automated verification request to ignore the Agency (Parent) record, and to use what is found in the Program or Site record (Child records), in the order specified in Setting 3. If no email is found, the record will not be sent.
- “If no email address is found in a Program or Site, then try to find one in it’s parent Agency” This is a good option for when Programs may or may not have their own contacts. The automated verification request will look for an email address in the Program or Site records (Child records), in the order specified in Setting 3.
- “Only use email addresses from the parent Agency, not from the Program or Site” tells the automated verification request to ignore any emails found in the Program or Site records (Child records) and to send all records to the Agency (Parent) record, in the order specified in Setting 3.
Setting 6 tells the automated verification request how to include ProgramAtSite records, if they exist in the request (a combination of Setup Method, and Setting 4). If they exist, they are sent either “merged” or “separately”.
- “Merged” – “Program Contacts” tells the automated verification request to merge ProgramAtSites with the attached Program. Verifiers can confirm/remove which sites are linked to the Program, and can provide general notes about the changes. Setting 5 and Setting 3 then determine which email to send the merged record too.
- “Separately” – “ProgramAtSite Contact if one exists, otherwise program contact” tells the automated verification request to include the ProgramAtSite records separately. The automated verification request then looks at Setting 5 and Setting 3 to determine which email to send the separate record too. Note: The ProgramAtSite record exists independent from the Program, and may, depending on Setting 5, and if an email exists in the ProgramAtSite record, be sent alone, with an Agency Record and/or with a Program record.
If your organization wishes to use this feature, or if you have any additional questions on how to use it, please submit a case to the iCarol Support Team via the online case submission tool.
One key feature of iCarol is the ability to link and share service delivery with other helplines in a variety of ways. Historically a common partnership scenario involves call centers who pass some or all of their calls to other iCarol-using centers either as after-hours contracts, or on an as-needed basis for overflow. iCarol accommodates these partnerships with call report sharing capabilities. Much the same with resources, centers can share resource databases with others who may be taking their calls, or to better service the needs of help-seekers with a wider range of potential services to refer them to, or through setting up provincial and state-wide resource databases to be accessed by a network of helplines who can all take part in maintaining these resources, thus reducing burden to each individual center.
These same principles of sharing volume to benefit centers and clients alike also extends to iCarol Messaging, and in recent month’s we’ve made improvements in this arena.
As an example, one nationwide network using iCarol was using a sort of round-robin approach in how to route chats to the centers who were members of that network. Visitors would arrive to the website and click through to chat, and from there they’d be routed to one of the centers based on the schedule, and the coverage area of the center. Once they were properly routed, they’d arrive at that center’s registration page and after completing registration they’d appear in just that center’s messaging queue.
There are some challenges to this approach, namely:
- The routing system didn’t take counselor availability into account so chats may be routed but the destination center may be overwhelmed with other work and short on counselors to take chats
- The visitor was visible just in the iCarol system to which they were routed
- Registration pages may have a different look and feel, depending on the center to which the visitor was sent
- Lack of control over the data being collected by individual centers
- Statistics could not be run in real-time; they had to be aggregated first
Our developers have been working on a new approach for this network, and they’re currently using it to much success during the pilot period. So, how does the approach work now? The network is using a single shared “portal” made available to the participating centers in their iCarol systems, rather than routing the chats as it did before. This means:
- Standardized registration pages make for a more consistent look and feel, and better branding for the network
- Pre-written messages, reporting forms, and data collection are standardized
- The network system directly hosts and controls their own data, so they get better reporting capabilities
- Chats are visible to any center serving the visitor’s area, meaning better load balancing and shorter wait times for visitors, fewer abandoned chats
- Chats are clearly marked as being from the network, but appear in the same queue as the center’s other local chats for ease of use
We’re excited to say that this pilot period has gone very well and the network is enjoying the benefits of the shared portal technology.
We’d welcome the opportunity to talk to you about your network whether it’s provincial/statewide, or national, to see how this functionality could improve and streamline your messaging services and benefit all your participating centers and visitors alike. Current iCarol users, please open a case with us, or if you’re not using iCarol yet please contact us to learn more!
Earlier this year we added a feature to iCarol that had proven to be one of our most popular feature requests from our clients. You wanted the ability to exchange typed messages with other workers signed in to your iCarol system.
It was popular for a good reason: there are so many great ways this tool can be used. Here are just a few ways our clients are already putting this to use…
Resource searches – Your Resource Managers are great sources of information and have an answer for everything. If a Call Specialist needs help finding the right resource for a caller, but can’t quite remember its name or the way it’s categorized, they can send a quick, typed message to the Resource Manager for some assistance.
Guidance when working with clients – Whether it’s working through assessing risk or sending rescue, or you’re just having trouble connecting with a client and need some tips, a second pair of eyes or ears from a colleague can be super helpful. If your shift leader is across the room or in another location, no need to throw office supplies to get their attention. Send a quick message to say, “Hey, can you come listen to this call?”
Supervisor check-in – Helpline Directors have a tough task of needing to be available and on-call practically all the time. Internal Chat allows you to quickly check in with your staff even if you’re already home after a long day. From anywhere with an internet connection you can sign in to see that folks have arrived and signed on, and send a quick encouraging note as they start their shift.
Have fun! – Collect lunch orders, check and see who wants to hit up karaoke after shift, or send a goofy joke to brighten someone’s day.
These chats are also protected — the security you enjoy throughout the rest of iCarol extends to Internal Chat, and your Internal Chat conversations are expunged on demand, and also when you sign off. So you can feel confident discussing confidential information via these conversations if needed.
Bottom line: We wanted this new feature to be one more way that your volunteers and staff can feel connected to their colleagues, their supervisors, and by extension connected to the mission of your organization. We truly hope this feature has done this for your center.
Internal Chat is included as a part of any iCarol system, it just needs to be turned on by an Admin user and then permissions granted to workers to use the feature. For instructions on how to do this and more, check out our help videos or watch our webinar.
Happy Pi Day this coming weekend!
What is Pi Day? Nominally, it’s a celebration of the mathematical concept of pi from high school geometry class (it involves circles), but my kids and I use it as an annual excuse to eat more pie.
Actually, Saturday is technically Pi Day only in countries where the date format is like this: MM/DD. That’s because in those countries March 14 is written as 3/14 – get it? Pi = 3.14.
People in countries that use the date format DD/MM could wait until Pi Approximation Day (yes, that is a real thing), which is July 22. That’s written as 22/7; 22 divided by 7 is 3.14, hence, pi. But who wants to wait months to have an extra serving of pie? I say go for it now. Anyway, who among the pi cognoscenti would throw stones? You can bet I’ll consider myself Australian on that date, for snack purposes.
I was thinking this could also be also a good chance to extol the virtues of all the great pie charts in iCarol. Head over to the Statistics area, and you’ll see lots of ways you could use pie charts to display your data. My favorite part is when you make a pie chart, you can click on the slices to drill down into the data even further.
But really, that’s torturing the homonym a bit too far, with no satisfying gustatory payoff.
So instead I’ll end with a handy way to remember the first few digits of pi. I can’t say that I run into too much need to calculate the area of a circle with such precision, or, frankly, with any precision at all. But it has helped me annoy — er I mean impress — friends at parties. Where, of course, I parlay this knowledge into getting extra pie. It all comes full circle (pardon the pun).
Here’s the memory trick — the words in the following sentence each have the same number of letters as the first few digits of pi:
“How I wish I could calculate pi easily” (that is, “how” = 3 letters, “I” = 1, “wish” = 4, etc., so the sentence helps me remember the first digits of pi: 3.1415926).
I hope this earns you as many desserts as it has for me. And if you have the stomach for further party-scoring-knowledge, here’s another: Pi is considered, in mathematical terms, an irrational number. That means the digits go on forever.
Somehow it gives me great comfort to know that some numbers truly, technically, are irrational.
We’ve got a new optional tool for searching for resources using custom categories. This tool lets you conduct category searches on up to three categories (sometimes also referred to as “keywords”) simultaneously.
Those using the taxonomy are familiar with this already; what’s new is the ability for everyone with custom categories to use this.
So how can this be helpful to your searches?
You could use this new tool to search for resources tagged with both “rent help” and “utility help” (if you had those categories set up, for example). That could be helpful if your caller had transportation issues, and needed a single place to go for both. The search results would only include resources tagged with both of those custom categories.
As another example, you could also use the tool to search for “rent help” OR “utility help.” That could be helpful if the caller had general financial issues, and you wanted to find any resource that might be able to help. In that case, the search results would return resources tagged with at least one of the categories you indicated. You’d get more search results with this method than you would for the first example.
If you’d like this tool enabled in your system, there’s no added charge. Please submit a support case, and our team will take care of that for you.
We understand how important the follow-up process is at your helpline. There are many different reasons to follow-up with a help seeker after your initial conversation has ended. Safety planning and ongoing contact with support systems are extremely important for people who are having thoughts of suicide. Or perhaps you’d like to see if the referrals a caller was given were able to help them. Many centers also use a follow-up call as an opportunity to conduct a satisfaction or quality assurance survey.
Whatever reason you are following up with a client, our follow-up activity within a call report form makes it easy to schedule these follow-ups. You can collect the important information you’ll need to conduct the follow-up call, not just the person’s name and phone number but important information to preserve confidentiality, like knowing whether or not it’s okay to leave a voicemail, or to say where you’re calling from if a third party answers the phone. Your volunteers can even sign up for an email notification to tell them a follow-up call has been scheduled and assigned to them. There’s also a handy “inbox” on the main calls page where they can quickly navigate to the list of follow-ups that are scheduled.
With our next release we’ll be launching improvements to the pages that list Follow-ups and Surveys due. Those pages, as always, are accessed from the Calls menu. Here are highlights of the changes, which you’ll see soon:
- New arrows on the top bar let you change the sort order of each column: call report form number, due date, client name, phone worker, assigned to, and subject.
- To make the date column sortable, that’s now in YYYY/MM/DD format.
- A new search box lets you more quickly find the call reports you need by typing in a search term.
- You can still reassign followups, but it looks a little different — the pulldown is gone. Instead, please just click on the “assigned to” name, and then you’ll see the list of names from which you can choose.
We hope this enhancement helps save time in your daily work; making it so you can quickly and efficiently find the information you need when conducting follow-up interactions.
Our clients spoke and we listened! Many clients expressed a wish for iCarol to be able to leverage text messaging in new and different ways. Therefore, we added three new ways to use text messaging in iCarol. This article will outline how to send text notifications and text messages to other users in your iCarol system, and a future article will outline how to conduct follow-ups via text message. These new options carry no set-up fee, but you will be charged a monthly fee for the text messages sent, at a rate of $40/1000 messages/month.
The new SMS options will first need to be turned on by an Admin in your iCarol system. They can be found by clicking Admin Tools in the left hand menu, and then the “Messaging” tab. Doing so will take you to the page pictured below, where you will want to click the box next to the first two options to place a check mark there, then click the “Save all settings” button at the top of the screen.
Those individuals who would like to be able to receive SMS messages from other users or would like to receive notifications via SMS will need to edit their user profiles to include a mobile phone number, and to give permission for SMS messages to be sent to them. To do so, the user, or an Admin on their behalf, will click Vols-Staff in the left hand menu, then click on the name of the person whose profile they would like to edit. Next, click the Contacts tab, the click the Edit button at the top of the screen. Next, enter a phone number into the Mobile Phone field, and click the box next to “I permit SMS’s to be sent to this mobile phone” to place a check mark there. Finally, click the Save button at the top of the screen.
Please note the text in red. SMS messages from iCarol may be sent at any time. It is suggested that if you would not like to receive SMS messages during certain time frames, you explore your mobile phone options to determine if there is a setting you can use to delay delivery of SMS messages to certain time frames. Most mobile phones have this option so that, for example, it can be set so that SMS messages are not delivered between the hours of 11pm and 9am. Any message that might have been sent during that time frame is not delivered until after 9am. Alternately, most mobile phones also allow users to set their phone to silent, so that the notification sound that usually plays when a phone call or text message is received is not heard.
Once the option to send SMS notifications is turned on, additional options are displayed on the Notifications tab of user profiles as below.
Each individual, or an Admin on their behalf, can edit these options to indicate which notifications they would like sent via SMS.
To send a SMS message to another user, follow the steps below.
1. Click Vols-Staff in the left hand menu
2. Click on the name of the person you would like to send a message to
3. Click the Contact Info tab of the user profile
4. Click the mobile phone number
5. A new tab or window will open where you can type your message and send it
Non-Admin users can only send SMS messages to one user at a time. Admin users can send a SMS message to multiple users at once. They would do so by following these steps:
1. Click Vols-Staff in the left hand menu
2. Click the boxes next to the names of the people you would like to send a SMS message to, so there are check marks placed there
3. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and click on the Send SMS link
4. The form to type your message and send it will appear
A new report has been added to the Statistics page of iCarol to help you track how many SMS messages are being sent from your system. Admins can access this report by clicking Statistics in the left hand menu, then the Messaging menu. This report contains several filters so you can determine from what area of iCarol the SMS messages are being sent. “Between Staff and Volunteers” is the option to choose if you would like to see how many notification messages and messages between users are being sent.
If you have any questions or need any clarification on this functionality, please do not hesitate to send a case to iCarol Support!