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Posts Tagged ‘live chat’

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.

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Join our Live Demo of iCarol Live Chat and Texting

Have you been considering adding on popular and in-demand communication channels like Live Chat or Texting to your organization’s services? Are you curious to see how these channels are handled in iCarol, and how they fit seamlessly into the rest of the functions of the software? I hope you’ll join my teammate Mary and I for a live demo on Thursday at 2pm EDT so we can show you!

To find out more about this webinar and what we’ll cover, visit our registration page.

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iCarol Webinar: The Changing Face of Initiating Active Interventions in the Online Space

Adding on new communications channels people can use to reach your helpline is a critical element of providing effective service to your community in the 21st century. But, while the addition of such contact methods is important, it brings with it a unique set of challenges that crisis centers must be ready to address. Online emotional support, particularly Live Chat, can be extremely anonymous. In fact, that’s part of the appeal for users — the ability to confide in someone without revealing one’s face, voice, and identity sets exactly the stage that many people prefer or need in order to truly open up and reach out for help. In instances where emergency rescue might be needed for a person in imminent danger, the same exciting technology that allows so many in need to access help in the way they prefer can create anxiety and headaches for crisis workers who want to help.

Join us for our next webinar where we’ll delve into the topic of active intervention in the online space, and how this aspect of crisis intervention continues to evolve.

    When: Thursday, January 25, 2018
    Time: 2:00pm Eastern

    Our Presenter:

    Beau Pinkham
    Director of Crisis Intervention Services
    The Crisis Center of Johnson County

    About Beau:

    Beau has been part of the crisis intervention/suicide prevention field since 2002, when he started volunteering at his local crisis line. Subsequent experience being a flood recovery outreach counselor after the devastation of 2008 and working with the homeless population after that led him to a staff position with The Crisis Center of Johnson County, where he currently directs crisis intervention and suicide prevention services. He is a current board member for Contact USA, an accrediting body for crisis centers across the United States, and is part of the American Association of Suicidology’s Strategic Media Response Task Force. He has been involved in panel discussions on the intersection of video games and suicide at SXSW and other conferences, and has presented on how tech trends have affected and will continue to affect crisis intervention services.

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iCarol to attend the National Sexual Assault Conference

iCarol Webinars

iCarol is thrilled to attend the National Sexual Assault Conference (NSAC) in Dallas, TX, June 7-9, 2017. Over the past few years, iCarol has helped more and more agencies working in the sexual violence support space, especially as the need to offer chat and text to survivors increases. We couldn’t be more honored to help these agencies in their missions, and make the work these vital agencies do easier, and save them time and money along the way.

For some, like the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, the agency is focused on sexual violence prevention and survivor support. For many other iCarol clients, sexual violence support work is part of a multi-faceted agency.

In particular, providing survivors options for texting and live chat during the crucial hours following a sexual assault ensures they have options other than calling on the phone to reach out to the supporting agency. Many survivors have questions about getting a SANE nurse exam, or need support. Some agencies even explain how an advocate can meet the survivor at the hospital and explain the processes over text messages or live chat. In many states, the sooner evidence is collected in an exam (often within 72 hours), the better. The support work for survivors surely does not end there.

Here are a few other highlights of iCarol’s work with sexual violence support agencies:

    Ensure hours/funding are accounted for and seamlessly administer and track:
  • Advocate/SANE hospital & mobile responder activities
  • Outreach/presentations at schools, events, training
  • Case worker/advocate follow-up — no one gets missed

  • Instant reporting for funders:
  • Advocate and staff training hours & certification (also with expiration alerts to staff)
  • Monthly & quarterly reporting of interactions (calls, chat, text, in person), stats built right in

  • Better volunteer/advocate/staff shift attendance:
  • Clear and web/mobile accessible organized schedules
  • Seamless tools for volunteers to get help to fill a shift
  • Text and email reminders about upcoming shifts

The conferences is “A Conference for People Who Want to End Sexual Violence,” according to their website. It also states: “The purpose of the conference is to provide a national training opportunity for 1,500+ workers from rape crisis centers, state sexual assault coalitions and other allies (medical professionals, law enforcement, campus rape crisis programs, public health department workers, and others) from across the United States and its territories.”

If you are going to be at the conference, please stop by the iCarol booth! Have questions or want to set up a time to meet? Please !

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An update on Contact Form and Messaging Enhancements

In December of 2016, iCarol announced a suite of enhancements for Contact Forms and Messaging. These enhancements include the following benefits:






  • Greater Productivity
    • Faster completion of forms
    • Faster onboarding of new volunteers and staff
    • Quicker geographic suggestions
  • Widen your volunteer pool
    • Improved accessibility
    • User friendly interface
  • Improved Connection to Help Seekers
    • Faster delivery of chat and text messages
  • Better Documentation
    • Report form opens with chat or text conversation
  • Quicker, more accurate referrals
    • Improves outcomes
    • Streamlined, powerful resource search tools

For more information about the enhancements, please refer to the Help page in iCarol, by clicking Help in the left hand menu. There are two documents and a training webinar available in the “New” section of the Help page with information about the enhancements.

It is our goal to upgrade all clients to the new version of the Contact Form and Messaging by the end of 2017. Therefore, this upgrade is mandatory, and all clients will be upgraded. We began this work by sending out a survey to iCarol Admins which asked which quarter they would like to be upgraded in. We used the responses to this survey to begin scheduling clients for the upgrade. Those who did not respond to the survey have also been scheduled for the upgrade. The timing of the upgrade for each client is based on the features they are using in their Contact Forms. Not all features are available in the new version of the Contact Form yet, but these features will be added throughout the year.

iCarol staff will be in close communication with clients who are being upgraded, and will provide all the information needed to successfully complete the upgrade. Timely responses from clients throughout the upgrade process would be greatly appreciated so the upgrade can proceed in an efficient and effective manner. Clients will be informed of when the upgrade will occur, and if the timing does not work for them, they can request to be rescheduled for a later date. Please be aware, we will do our best to re-schedule clients to a time they request, but we cannot guarantee this. We must balance the requests with the availability of iCarol staff to complete the upgrade.

For those not using Messaging, and therefore only upgrading Contact Forms, and those using Messaging with Messaging portals (please note, Contact Forms not related to Messaging will also be upgraded at the same time), the upgrade process will proceed as follows:

    1. During each month in 2017, iCarol will send an email to all clients scheduled to be upgraded the next month.
    2. A case will be created by iCarol staff to track the upgrade process.
    3. A member of the iCarol Support team will respond to the case and provide the following information:
      a. Which week the client is scheduled for the upgrade
      b. Where to find information about the enhancements
      c. Which forms, if any, are ineligible for the upgrade, due to special features which may not be available in the new version of the Contact Form yet
      d. Information about adding demo forms to the client system
    4. A member of the iCarol Support team will add demo forms to the client system. These demo forms will be copies of the client’s Contact Forms, upgraded to the new version of the Contact Forms.
    5. A member of the iCarol Support team will respond to the case when the demo forms are added. The demo forms will allow clients to preview and play with the new version of the Contact Forms prior to completing the upgrade. They can also be used to train staff and volunteers on the new version of the Contact Form.
    6. A week prior to the upgrade week, a member of the iCarol Support Team will respond to the case with the exact date the upgrade will be completed.
    7. On the day of the upgrade, the upgrade will be completed, and the demo forms will be deleted. A member of the iCarol Support team will respond to the case to indicate the upgrade is complete. If there were Contact Forms not eligible to be upgraded, iCarol staff will reach out later in the year to schedule the upgrade of these forms.

For those using Messaging without Messaging portals, the upgrade process will be a little different. Please note, Contact Forms not related to Messaging will also be upgraded as the same time. The upgrade process will proceed as follows:

    1. During each month in 2017, iCarol will send an email to all clients scheduled to be upgraded the next month.
    2. A case will be created by iCarol staff to track the upgrade process.
    3. A member of the iCarol Support team will respond to the case and provide the following information:
      a. Which week the client is scheduled for the upgrade
      b. Where to find information about the enhancements
      c. A detailed list of steps to upgrade to Messaging portals
      d. Specific questions that the client will need to answer so the iCarol Support team member can begin setting up Messaging portals. Please note, the process cannot continue until these questions are answered, so it is very important that a timely response be sent.
    4. Once the answers to the specific questions noted above are received, the iCarol Support team member will begin to set-up Messaging portals in the client system. Once completed, they will respond to the case with instructions on the next step in the process which the client will need to take, which is to assign Vols-Staff member to Portal Programs.
    5. Client assigns Vols-Staff to Portal Programs, and responds to the case to let the iCarol Support team member know they have completed the task. Again, the process cannot proceed until the iCarol Support team member receives confirmation that this task is complete.
    6. Once confirmation of the task outlined above has been received, the iCarol Support team member will complete the set-up of Messaging portals.
    7. The iCarol Support team member will respond to the case and provide instructions on next steps, which include:
      a. Setting up Shifts for Portal Programs
      b. Updating website with new URL(s) for Messaging
      c. Editing Standard Messages
      This response will also include which week the upgrade process will be completed in, and information about adding demo forms to the client system.
    8. A member of the iCarol Support team will add demo forms to the client system. These demo forms will be copies of the client’s Contact Forms, upgraded to the new version of the Contact Form.
    9. A member of the iCarol Support team will respond to the case when the demo forms are added. The demo forms will allow clients to preview and play with the new version of the Contact Form prior to completing the upgrade. They can also be used to train staff and volunteers on the new version of the Contact Form. If there are Contact Forms that are ineligible to be upgraded at this time, these will be noted in this response.
    10. A week prior to the upgrade week, a member of the iCarol Support Team will respond to the case with the exact date the upgrade will be completed.
    11. On the day of the upgrade, the upgrade will be completed, and the demo forms will be deleted. A member of the iCarol Support team will respond to the case to indicate the upgrade is complete.

If there were Contact Forms not eligible to be upgraded, iCarol staff will reach out later in the year to schedule the upgrade of these forms. If there are any questions about the upgrade process, please feel free to submit a case to the iCarol Support Team via the online case management system, accessed by clicking Help in the left hand menu in your iCarol system.

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Celebrating 2-1-1 Day

Each year, February 11th is celebrated as 2-1-1 day throughout North America.

2-1-1 is an easy-to-remember three digit number, but unlike 4-1-1 for directory assistance or 9-1-1 for life-threatening emergencies, the focus of 2-1-1 is to provide people with comprehensive information and referral to various human services in their communities.

Rather than spend hours of frustration going it alone calling around to various agencies or surfing the web, help-seekers can make 2-1-1 their first call for assistance and speak to a trained specialist that can spend time evaluating their needs, educating them about resources, and then connect them with the appropriate services. These 2-1-1 agencies widen their reach by making their services available via chat, texting, and integrating their well-curated database of resources into their website. They also build partnerships with other providers by sharing their resource information and making it available to collaborators in a multitude of ways. Of course, iCarol is delighted to help a large percentages of 2-1-1s across Canada and the United States tap into these tools and innovation to help their communities.

iCarol is proud to be working with so many 211 providers whose organizations provide a vital service to their communities by connecting millions of people to essential services each year. If you work at a 2-1-1 and celebrated this day at your helpline, whether it’s just a small occasion or large outreach event, we want to hear from you! Send your stories and photos to so we can feature them on our blog and share your experiences with our readers and recognize your helpline.

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Using the Report Incident Tool to Report Issues with iCarol Messaging

In response to the increased use of alternate communication channels for help seekers, many iCarol clients are adding Messaging to their iCarol systems. Using Messaging, you can communicate with your help seekers via chat or text. As with other areas of iCarol, sometimes issues can arise that require making a report to the iCarol Support Team. The preferred method to communicate with the iCarol Support Team is to submit a case via the Online Case Management Tool. Please click here for more information on how to submit a case. When the issue is in regards to iCarol Messaging however, there is another tool that we encourage you to use to report issues with this area of iCarol.

Chat window incident report

This tool is called the Report Incident Tool and is found at the bottom of the counselor’s screen when addressing a Messaging conversation.

Any user can us this tool to report an issue. When one clicks Report Incident, a small form will appear in a pop-up window. Please enter a concise Subject that describes the issue, and then use the Description text box to further describe the issue in as much detail as possible.

Chat incident report

Once the security code is entered, and the “Report Incident” button clicked, a case will be created and sent to the iCarol Support Team. This case will also appear in the Online Case Management tool. All cases created in this manner are named “Messaging Incident #xxxx: Subject”. For example, the name of the incident shown in the screenshot above might be “Messaging Incident #2650: Strange symbols appearing in chat conversation”. The case will be appropriately attributed to your agency. The first available member of the iCarol Support team will respond to the case and begin the investigation of the issue.

The benefit of submitting Messaging cases in this manner is that this tool conveys additional details about the specific Messaging conversation the user was addressing that helps the iCarol Support and Technical teams immensely when investigating issues. Some of the details conveyed include browsers being used, platforms being used, and whether the visitor was using a mobile device. The details can be extremely helpful in investigating and ultimately resolving an issue. This quick and easy to use tool can be a benefit to you by conveying details “in the moment” so they are not forgotten. It can cut down or eliminate conversations or emails between the user who experienced the issue and an Admin user who wants to report the issue to iCarol Support. It can also mean that issues are reported faster, which could lead to faster investigation and resolution of the issue.

As always, if you have any questions about the Report Incident tool, or anything else, please do not hesitate to contact the iCarol Support team!

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Going beyond “Calls” – We need your input

helpline call chat text

More than a decade ago when iCarol was first created by two helpline volunteers, Neil and Jackie McKechnie, helpline work was very much based in serving people via the phone. And the phone remains a method of communication to this day for helplines all over the world.

Over the years though, as new technologies grew in popularity and availability, people increasingly turn to channels like chatting, texting, or connecting with services through websites. And helplines need to embrace these new channels to stay relevant and reach more people. The flexibility in iCarol enables helplines to capture important information regardless of the type of contact — our Call Report Forms are used to collect data on interactions, whether they happen over the phone, online, via text, or even at in-person visits from mobile crisis teams or walk-in clinics. But some of the verbiage inside iCarol still centers around calls as a primary service, like the main Calls page, Call reports, and Caller Profiles.

We know that many helplines have expanded services beyond the phone, and that iCarol plays an important role in your documentation of all channels. For that reason, we are considering a name change for the “Calls” section of iCarol to better describe what you do and how you use these features. Please take 2 minutes to give your input about this by taking a brief survey.

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Following year anniversary of services, ONTX shares data

Ontario Online and Text Crisis Services program (ONTX) recently marked a year of service to their communities, and shared data with constituents in their latest newsletter. In the report they describe response to the program as “overwhelmingly positive” while allowing contact with many individuals who otherwise would not have reached out for help.

Some key findings:

  • Total chats and texts: 8,921
  • 75% of visitors were under 24 years old, while that same demographic makes up a very small portion of their phone callers
  • Over 200 specialists trained to take chats and texts
  • They receive an average of 5 suicide-related contacts each time the service is open
  • More than half of visitors said that in the absence of an online emotional support service like ONTX, they would not have spoken to anyone about their problem

For a full look at the released findings click here, or read a summary here. Want future updates from ONTX and other services of DC Ontario? Be sure to sign up for Distress and Crisis Ontario’s newsletter by emailing your request to .

We’re thrilled by the success of our friends at ONTX, though it comes as no surprise to us that they’ve had this response. The caring people at the Distress and Crisis Ontario have been providing listening support and crisis intervention to Ontario for nearly 50 years. Their latest step to make their services available in a way that works for everyone in need demonstrates their commitment to helping people and saving lives.

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