Alert Solutions Blog

K-12 School Districts Explore a Four-Day Week to Reduce Absenteeism

Posted by Nina Russo on Tue, Aug 26, 2014 @ 11:08 AM

K-12 schools across the US have been developing new ways to go about their school year. One option that has been recently explored by several school districts is the four-day week.

This cuts the week for students from a five-day week to a four-day week. Copan Public Schools in northeastern Oklahoma, is one school pursuing this new structure in order to attract teachers and reducing absenteeism.

“We realized there were a lot of positive outcomes from the four-day week,” Superintendent Rick Ruckman of Copan Public Schools says. “If we didn’t have activity absences on Fridays because we didn’t have class on Fridays, it would help those kids be involved in any activities they wanted. So far, it’s been great.”

The benefits of a four-day school week may include:attendnace

Reducing Absenteeism: Many students who participate in athletics or other extracurriculars use up their allotted absences early in the year for tournaments and competitions that occur on Fridays. Parents can also use the extra day off for things, such as appointments, reducing the amount of school absences.

• Lower Costs: Schools utilizing the four-day week will save on transportation and utility costs. This is especially true for rural districts where students taking the bus are spread out across a large geographic area, increasing transportation costs.

How do you feel about a four-day school week? Share your thoughts on our blog!

For more tips and tricks on reducing chronic truancy in your school, download our best practice guide!

Topics: attendance, power announcement, powerschool, education

Email Marketing Campaign Subject Lines – 3 Tips Connecting You to Your Customers

Posted by Cassie Breen on Wed, Aug 20, 2014 @ 12:08 PM

Businesses realize how important it is to connect with their customers.  Email marketing campaigns are a great way to do this, but there are some challenges that stand in the way.

With so many emails flooding customers’ inboxes, it can be difficult for your email marketing campaign to even be seen, let alone opened or receive any clicks.  This is why it is so important for businesses to be aware of every detail of their email marketing campaign.

Included in these details is the email subject line.  In order to connect with current or future customers, businesses must ensure they are producing an enticing, relevant and valuable email subject line.   Although this connection may be a brief one, it is so important in whether or not your email marketing campaign will be opened, discarded or even worse, marked as ‘spam’.Here are a few tips according to Direct Marketing News to help your email subject line connect with recipients:deliverabilityoptimization-1

  1. Personalize

Businesses should be creative in their email subject lines.  This should be more than just simply inserting a first name.  Create an email subject line that specifically pertains to recipients.  This will direct them to your email marketing campaign while scanning through their inbox.

  1. Get to the Point

Although creativity is important, there must be a balance.  You do not want to be overly creative to the point that the message you are sending through your email subject line is unclear.  You should  lead the email subject line with the most important information.

  1. Use Variety

Structure in your subject line is not necessarily a bad thing, but variety should also be instilled.  Much like a conversation, you do not want to start you email subject line the same for every email marketing campaign.  You want to have the recipient feel like there is a human being at the other end.

By using these tips to create a compelling and informative email subject line, you can ensure your email marketing campaigns are being noticed in the inboxes of current and potential customers.

To learn more about email marketing campaign strategy, check out our other blog posts.

For email marketing best practice tips and tricks, download our best practice guide.

Topics: personalization, email marketing, email marketing best practices

Educators Find Top Priorities for Upcoming K-12 School Year

Posted by Cassie Breen on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 @ 13:08 PM

The start of the new school year is quickly approaching, which means educators in K-12 school districts must develop a new set of priorities.  With many new changes happening in the education world, educators must be sure their structure and goals are reflecting these changes.

Educators have identified numerous new initiatives and objectives for the 2014-2015 school year.  According to a recent eSchool News article, here were some of the educators top priorities:PowerTeacher

  1.        Common Core Learning Goals

Educators across the US are struggling to come to terms with the implementation of Common Core Standards. However, they are challenged with how to change curriculums and practices in order to accommodate these new Common Core standards.  Teachers especially, must figure out a way to adjust both the content they teach and the way they teach it.

  1.        Integrating Technology into Lessons

Using technology in the classroom helps students to learn all of the things that make up the essentials of the 21st century.  There has also been an increased prevalence of BYOD, bring your own device, and expanded access to mobile devices and apps in schools.  For example, in K-12 classrooms, mobile devices are used to access and research online digital content, to create content, to develop skills and to communicate and collaborate.  Educators must find a way to incorporate greater technology into classrooms while remaining within exponentially tightening school budgets.

  1.        Expanding Students’ Opportunity for Project Based Learning

Employers today are hiring those who can communicate effectively, think critically, and solve problems in collaboration with other team members.  This leads to more and more schools looking to project-based learning as a way to better prepare students for these demands.   This leaves educators looking to expand project based opportunities in their school districts and classrooms in order to encourage a deeper level of thinking by involving students in answering questions for themselves, making connections, and using analytical skills.

What are your top priorities for the upcoming school year?  Share your thoughts on our blog!

To read more regarding the latest in education news, check out other blog posts!

Two Strategies to Reducing Patient No-Shows at Your Medical Practice

Posted by Cassie Breen on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 @ 13:08 PM

One of the largest problems plaguing medical offices across the US is patient no-shows.  Patient no shows account for numerous concerns for medical practices including a significant amount of lost revenue.

So what is being done to correct the issue of patient no-shows in medical practices? Here are a couple of ways medical practices are working to reduce patient no-shows:

1.)    No-Show Policies

Most medical practices have policies in place regarding patient no-shows.    Every missed appointment is a cost to the medical practice as a gap in their scheduled day.  In order to make up with the cost of a missed appointment, some medical practices have put a fee in place for patients who miss their appointments.  Many offices have their patient no-show policy written into their patient consent form as well as it being posted in the office area.
appointmenttext
Medical practices must be careful when it comes to charging no-show fees or dismissing patients and most take multiple factors into consideration.  Many times, medical offices will follow-up with patients regarding missed appointments to find out why the appointment was missed.  Depending on the response of the patient, the medical practice may just give a warning, rather than impose a fee.  As far as dismissals go, medical practices tend to use the “three strike rule.”  The patient receives a warning for the first two missed appointments, but on after the third no-show will be dismissed.

2.)    Patient Notification System

Another way medical practices are dealing with the issue of patient no-shows is by implementing a patient notification system.  A patient notification system can allow medical practices to remind patients of upcoming appointments via preferred communication channels of email, voice and SMS text messaging.  Not only can these automated appointment notifications remind patients of their upcoming appointment, but allow for them to confirm or reschedule through a hot-key press.
Automated appointment reminders also allow medical office staff to better utilize their time.  Instead of manually making appointment reminder calls, office staff can spend time face-to-face with patients, increasing patient engagement.

Through the use of patient no-show policies and patient notification systems, medical practices can drastically reduce patient no-shows and increase their revenue.

How do you deal with the issue of patient no-shows at your medical practice?  Share your thoughts on our blog!

To learn more about reducing patient no-shows with a patient notification system, download our brochure!

Topics: appointment reminders, automated patient notifications, patient communication

Survey Shows Bullying Statistics in Virginia K-12 Public School Districts

Posted by Cassie Breen on Tue, Aug 12, 2014 @ 13:08 PM

One of the largest concerns facing K-12 school districts as we approach the upcoming school year remains bullying.  Attesting to this is a recent survey of Virginia K-12 students and teachers.

Over 48,000 K-12 students and 13,000 teachers in Virginia public schools participated in a recent University of Virginia study.  The study was part of an annual safety audit by the Department of Criminal Justice Services.

The results of the survey showed an overall positive outlook with 82% of K-12 student and teacher participants reporting that they feel safe in their schools.  However, there were some findings that bring light to the existing concern regarding school bullying.

Some of the survey findings included:bullyingdepression

  • Nearly 40 percent of students say bullying is a problem in their schools.
  • More than half of students reported that others are teased for clothing, physical appearance or about “sexual topics.”
  • Roughly 17 percent of students reported being hit, pushed or otherwise physically attacked this year.
  • 21 percent of students said they had been threatened.
  • 30 percent of students said they had something stolen from them.
  • Almost half of surveyed teachers said students can easily break school rules leading to bullying concerns.

School administrators should be making efforts to reduce bullying in their schools.  This may be done through efforts such as:

The full report is available at www.curry.virginia.edu.

How do you prevent bullying in your school?  Share your thoughts on our blog.

To learn more about reducing bullying in your school, download our Speak-Up brochure.

Topics: bullying, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education

3 Rental Maintenance Tips to Increase Tenant Retention in Your Rental Community

Posted by Cassie Breen on Thu, Aug 07, 2014 @ 13:08 PM

A large factor in a tenant deciding whether to stay or go when lease renewal time approaches is the quality of rental maintenance.  From the communication involved with rental maintenance requests to the job itself and the follow-up tenant communication, tenants are looking for quality and timely service.

tenantcommunication

Below are a few tips to help property managers provide excellent rental maintenance service and tenant communication in order to increase tenant retention in your rental community:

  1. Common Rental Maintenance Service Requests

By identifying the most common service maintenance requests in your rental community you can help reduce problems before they arrive.  By communicating these common issues to tenants along with troubleshooting options you can save tenants time if they are able to solve the issue themselves.  However, be sure to let tenants know this they are still able to request maintenance.

  1. Rental Maintenance Follow-Up Communication

Be sure to follow-up on all completed rental maintenance requests.  This can be done quickly and reliably through automated notifications using tenants’ preferred communication channels of email, voice and SMS text messaging.  You may want to include questions such as “Did we complete everything to your expectation?” and “Is there anything else we can do for you?”  If using voice messaging, include a hot-key press to connect tenants to the appropriate person to resolve any further issues or questions.

  1. Nurture Communication between Tenants, Maintenance and Office Teams

Communication during rental maintenance requests is key to ongoing success and tenant retention.  Not only is it important to have follow-up communication, but through the entire process and with all parties involved.  If you are hiring an outside service to provide maintenance, communicate with the company to ensure you have an accurate start date and estimated date of completion on all tasks.  Automated notifications can be utilized for this as well by sending rental maintenance request reminders to tenants, ensuring they are ready for and maintenance crew or service visits.

Through optimal tenant communication and quality rental maintenance you can greatly increase tenant satisfaction.  This will ultimately lead to greater tenant retention, saving you time and money.

To learn more about utilizing automated notifications to increase tenant retention and tenant communication in your rental community download our Resident Reach brochure!

Topics: property management, tenant retention, tenant communication, tenant notifications

Recent Study Shows Concern for K-12 Students’ Online Safety

Posted by Cassie Breen on Tue, Aug 05, 2014 @ 13:08 PM

Technology is booming in today’s world and the same goes within K-12 school districts.  Even elementary age students are introduced to a large amount of technology in their everyday lives such as cell phones, tablets, laptops, etc.

The growing use of technology with young students gives them a greater knowledge than, even, many adults have, but with this comes some concern.  The more time students spend with technology, the more safety issues come to surface.

Since technology is being used more and more in classrooms and at home, online safety for students should be the concern of everyone involved.  This includes student families, school administrators, staff and teachers. 

Educating students on the importance of online safety, as well as monitoring students’ online activity is extremely important. However, there is a lot of concern within school districts that student families are too reliant on school staff to monitor and educate their children on online safety.  In fact, a recent eSchool News article showed the results of one survey.  This survey reiterated teachers concerns as:

  • 82 percent of teachers said they think parents rely too much on schools when it comes to educating students about online safety.
  • 38 percent of teachers also said that their students’ parents don’t know enough about online safety.

Other interesting statistics provided by the international study included:technologyinschool

  • 77 percent of teachers surveyed said that online safety education should be included in curriculum.
  • 92 percent of teachers said they use online content in class, but just 28 percent have received formal online safety instruction training.
  • 54 percent of teachers in Brazil teach online safety regularly, and 51 percent have been trained for that purpose.
  • 80 percent of Australian schools have cyberbullying guidelines in place.

In addition to including online safety in school safety policies, school districts should be sure to address the issue of cyberbullying in bullying prevention policies.

To see the full results of the study read the full eSchool News article here.

To learn more about developing an effective anti-bullying and cyberbullying plan download our guide.

Topics: cyberbullying, school safety, educational technology, education

DMARC Specifications and Email Messaging: What Senders Need to Know

Posted by Cassie Breen on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 @ 13:07 PM

DMARC, which stands for "Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance", is a technical specification which asks mailbox providers not to deliver unauthorized email messages that appear to have been sent from the same domain. This helps reduce the potential for email-based abuse.

DMARC standardizes how email receivers perform email authentication such as SPF and DKIM. This means that senders will experience consistent authentication results for their email messages at AOL, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! and any other email receiver implementing DMARC.

emaildelayWhat does this mean? 

Companies will no longer be able to send a bulk message from the domains, such as @yahoo.com or @aol.com, that have adopted DMARC.  For companies that do attempt to do this, any recipient who uses an email account provider implementing DMARC will not receive the email.

Until DMARC, there was no “official” rule that banned you from sending a bulk email message from an AOL email account.   Now Internet Services Providers are using DMARC to tell their users email accounts with their domain are not to be used for anything other than sending a personal message.

Companies should be aware of these changes in order to ensure their email marketing campaigns and other email notifications are being received.  By implementing DMARC, senders can receive detailed periodic reports, indicating which messages were rejected and why.  

DMARC is also beneficial in preventing spoofing/phishing of their domain. Since all non-aligned messages are rejected, SPAM sent using that domain would not go through either, which can help protect your brand.

For more information on email marketing best practices, download our email deliverability guide.

Topics: email deliverability, email marketing, email marketing best practices

School Bus Safety: 7 Tips to Start off this K-12 School Year

Posted by Cassie Breen on Tue, Jul 29, 2014 @ 13:07 PM

School safety is a hot topic for K-12 school districts.  Whether K-12 students are in transport or in the classroom, school administrators should have their students’ safety in mind. 

A large portion of school safety discussions include school bus safety.  According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, from 2001 through 2010, 1,368 people died in school transportation-related crashes.

With the start of the new school year quickly approaching, school administrators and student families should have school bus safety in mind.  According to a recent article, here are some school bus safety tips offered by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Center:

  • Students should arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is expected to arrive. schoobusstopEarly arrival helps students avoid running across the street to catch the bus or running after the school bus if it has already left the bus stop. 
  • Students should avoid the school bus “danger zone” by staying 10 feet away from the front or back end of the bus so that the driver can see them.
  • All students can help prevent falls on the bus by keeping the aisles clear of backpacks or books that can trip someone or block the way to the emergency exit. 
  • Shouting should be avoided to avoid unnecessarily distracting the bus driver. 
  • Students should never leave their seat until the bus makes a complete stop.
  • If a student needs to cross the street after exiting the bus, they should take five giant steps in front of the bus, make eye contact with the bus driver and cross when the driver indicates it’s safe. 
  • Students should not talk to strangers when walking to and from the bus stop. 

School administrators can do their part in school bus safety by outlining general school bus safety rules and tips in their school safety policy.  By notifying student families of these school bus safety rules and tips through preferred communication methods, school administrators can help strengthen parent engagement.

With an increase in parent communication and engagement, K-12 school districts can help develop awareness of the importance of school bus safety.

View the full article regarding school bus safety tips here.

To learn more about strengthening parent engagement and communication, download our brochure.

Topics: school notifications, school announcement, school safety, parent engagement

Help Boost Patient Communication and Retention with Automated Notifications

Posted by Cassie Breen on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 @ 13:07 PM

Loyal patients are vitally important to the success of any medical practice.   Patient communication and patient engagement are crucial in achieving patient loyalty and optimal patient retention.

A recent article stated that it costs 90 percent less to get current patients to return for future care than it does to attract new patients.   This shows just how important patient retention is to any medical practice’s bottom line.

Patient_Reminder

Patient communication can be a difficult task for many medical practices.  With busy schedules and limited staff time, it can be very difficult for office staff and doctors to find the time to ensure patients remain satisfied. Preferred Communication methods, be it email, voice or SMS text messaging, can be utilized with automated reminders to help improve patient communication and positively impact the healthcare experience. 

Automated notifications can be used in medical practices to strengthen patient communication and patient retention.  This includes:

  • Access to Care:  Access to care is very important.  For example, by allowing communication through email, voice and SMS text messaging, appointments can be made quickly and easily.  Communication preferences can be noted and automated appointment reminders can be sent via these preferred communication channels to help achieve optimal patient communication and reduce lost revenue associated with missed appointments.
  • Care Delivery: Automated notifications can also help with care delivery.  This allows for patients to be notified through preferred communication channels of prescription refill reminders, lab result notifications, etc.  By automating these processes, medical practices can free up staff time to allow for more communication with patients who need further assistance or have questions.
  • Follow-up Care:  Patient communication does not stop after the patient leaves the office.  In order to create greater patient satisfaction, medical practices should be engaging with patients through post appointment follow-up.  This could be through an automated wellness reminder or to inform a patient of a clinic happening related to their illness or needs.  Medical practices can also utilize a hot key press so patients can be connected to the correct department to further discuss any questions or concerns.

By creating greater patient engagement through tools like automated notifications, medical practices can help produce a higher level of patient communication and increase patient retention.

To learn more about improving patient communication and patient retention with automated notifications download our Patient Communication Suite Brochure!

Topics: automated patient notifications, Medical, patient communication, patient satisfaction, patient retention

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