Alert Solutions Blog

FCC Telephone Consumer Protection Act – New Updates You Need To Know!

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Jul 02, 2015 @ 10:07 AM

Just last year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) received over 200,000 reports regarding “robo” voice calls and SMS text messages, the largest category of complaints. The FCC still receives thousands of complaints each month.

In response, the FCC recently released new updates to its Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The purpose of this update is to sort out any loopholes and strengthen consumer defenses against unwanted voice calls and SMS text messages.

Is your business sending mass voice calls or SMS text messages? If so, pay careful attention to this latest TCPA update to see how you may be affected.

Below is a highlight of some of the new provisions:FCCUpdates

1. Call-blocking technology now allowed
Service providers can now offer market-based solutions to consumers for the purpose of blocking “robo” voice calls on their landline or mobile phone.

2. Consumers are more empowered
Voice call and SMS text messaging recipients have the right to stop automated messages in any reasonable way at any time, even if they had consented previously.

3. Clarification on Internet-to-Phone SMS text messages
SMS text messages generated from the internet are considered to be from an “auto-dialer”, meaning consent must be given before messages are sent.

4. Regenerated phone numbers aren’t loopholes
Phone numbers that have been reassigned to a new person, such as a through a mobile carrier, can only be called once.

All previous TCPA stipulations are still in effect, including the requirement for businesses to obtain explicit consent before calling or texting.

You May Be Exempt!
There are specific exemptions from these new TCPA updates. Financial institutions and medical providers sending alerts or reminders are exempt, but marketing-related or collection calls are not.

Brush-up on the legalities of marketing communication; download Alert Solutions’ Voice Compliance Guide today!

To read more of the FCC’s press release, click here.

Topics: compliance, SMS text messaging, voice broadcasting, voice broadcasting best practices, SMS Best Practices

Most Parents Don’t Believe Summer Learning Loss Affects Their Child, Study Finds

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Jun 30, 2015 @ 10:06 AM

Summer is an important time when students can either get ahead or fall behind academically, depending in large part on their resources and opportunities.

Earlier this month we shared a blog post on summer learning loss. Research suggests some students can lose more than two months in reading achievement over the summer months. It is a serious problem.

Despite this research, a new survey conducted through Reading is Fundamental (RIF) and Macy’s found 61% of parents don't believe that summer reading loss affects their own children.

Additional survey findings include:studentsreading

  • Roughly 65% of parents with young children say reading books during the summer is "extremely important."
  • During the school year, on average, parents of young children say their child spends about 5.7 hours a week reading books, on par with time spent using a smartphone or tablet (5.1 hours). 
  • More than 76% percent inspire their young child to read during the summer by allowing him/her to select his/her own books.

The survey results follow an extensive two-year research study conducted by RIF on summer learning loss. Their focus is to create opportunities for parents, teachers and school community members to minimize summer learning loss.

The survey included 525 U.S. parents of 5-11 year-old students in K-12 schools.

To learn more about RIF, click here.

Topics: school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, school programs, student engagement, summer learning loss

Property Managers: How to Capitalize on the Millennial Generation

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Jun 25, 2015 @ 09:06 AM

The Millennial Generation is said to be born between the early 1980’s and the early 2000’s. A very technological generation, they also appeal to property managers because many of them rent their homes instead of buy.

Nevertheless, the Millennial Generation is known for something else, too: moving around a lot. According to a survey by Rent.com, nearly 50% of Millennials reported living in a different location than where they grew up or went to college. Some of the most common reasons they move, according to Rent.com, are:propmgmt

  • 44% - To live in a more densely populated area
  • 43% - To pursue a new job opportunity
  • 21% - To be with their significant other
  • 19% - To live closer to family members
  • 11% - To simply try living some place new

As you might expect, the flexibility of renting supports the lifestyle of many Millennials. And although many of these factors are out of a property manager’s control, 44% of respondents say they plan to move again in the next year! This represents huge opportunity for property managers.

To attract Generation Y, and hopefully retain tenants through their lease term and beyond, property managers should understand their needs and wants very well. If you’re struggling to do so, check out one of our past blog posts:

>> Renting to the Millennial Generation: 5 Must-Haves for Property Managers <<

Did you know Alert Solutions provides technology to property managers so that they can communicate better with their tenants and help retain them?

Download our Property Management brochure to learn more.

Topics: property management, tenant retention, tenant communication

Don’t Take Our Word For It, Listen To Our Customers!

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Jun 23, 2015 @ 11:06 AM

As a school administrator, we know you are bombarded with new technologies everyday…especially school notification systems!

So we won’t go into how great our communication solutions are…we’ll let our customers do that for us! Take a look at some of our latest customer testimonials!

Notification System for PowerSchool Users
Alert Solutions’ partnership with Pearson enables our award-winning school notification system to be completely embedded within your district’s PowerSchool application.

Since implementing Alert Solutions nearly 2 years ago, Weston County School District #1 has been able to expand its school communication initiatives dramatically by sending attendance and lunch balance alerts automatically.

2. American Renaissance School – North Carolina
Since activating Alert Solutions, American Renaissance School’s attendance rates have increased and overall parent involvement has drastically improved. The ability to send attendance alerts to parents automatically has been vital.

3. Assumption High School – Kentucky
By eliminating their dependence on paper, ink and postage with Alert Solutions’ Automated Reports Module, Assumption High School estimates an annual savings of $1,745 on postage alone.


Notification System for Non –PowerSchool Users
School Announcement offers school administrators the ability to communicate with student families and staff via email, voice, SMS text messaging and social media. Users can even access School Announcement via the mobile app!

School Announcement enables Nexus Academy’s teachers to send messages to both parents and students. This increased teacher-family communication has drastically improved Nexus Academy’s student engagement rates.

2. Mesa Grande Academy – California
Since Mesa Grande Academy implemented School AnnounceASIMobileApp-Person-1ment, they’ve received a lot of positive feedback – noting a drastic increase in parent satisfaction since they started using SMS text messaging.

3. Houston Can Academy – Texas
Soon after Houston Can Academy started using School Announcement’s Mobile App, student attendance rates rose 5% and their Saturday classes saw a 95% increase in turnout. They’ve also experienced a 10x increase in report card distribution.

Looking for a school notification system? Look no further! Check out our solutions here.

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

Improve Patient Communication to Reduce Turnover at Your Medical Practice

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Jun 18, 2015 @ 11:06 AM

As a healthcare provider, you may know that the cost of retaining current patients is far less expensive than attracting new ones. To be more specific, it costs 90% less to keep the patients you already have.

But this is not always easy. An effective doctor-patient relationship is built over time through trust, honesty and respect.

Is your medical practice struggling with patient turnover? The Wall Street Journal has outlined some of the most common causes:patientretention

Reason #1: Misrepresentation of Credentials
Reason #2: Reluctance for Second Opinions
Reason #3: Lack-of or Inconsistent Communication

>Improvement Tip: Even though healthcare providers have busy schedules, many have implemented automated communication systems to help keep in touch with patients regularly between office visits.

There are several applications:

- Automated Appointment RemindersNot only can they help keep the schedule full, but appointment reminders are appreciated by patients that sometimes simply forget they had an appointment in the first place.

- Post-Appointment Follow UpThese messages give healthcare providers the opportunity to reiterate self-care instructions to improve compliance and prevent remedial care.

- Lab Result NotificationsPatients are able to get their results as soon as they are ready, as opposed to calling your office or sending email inquiries.

- Wellness Reminders and General OutreachMany medical practices use recall notices if a patient has missed an office visit. Some also send greetings to recognize a patient’s birthday or annual anniversary with the practice

Alert Solutions can help medical practices retain patients using effective patient communication. Whether you are using Allscripts, Greenway, or a different medical software system, we have the tools for you.

Download our Patient Communication Brochure for more information.

Alert Solutions' Patient Communication Suite Download Our Brochure!

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

Cyberbullying Mixed with In-Person Bullying Most Distressing to Students

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Jun 16, 2015 @ 10:06 AM

Not all bullying is created equal; at least that’s what researchers at the University of New Hampshire are saying.

A study published by the American Psychological Association analyzed interviews with 791 students (ages 10-20) who had taken part in a previous harassment survey. The study looked at three types of bullying:

In-Person Bullying
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.  In-person bullying can include verbal bullying, social bullying and physical bullying.
 
Cyberbullyingcyberbullying2
According to the U.S. Legal Definitions, “cyberbullying could be limited to posting rumors or gossips about a person in the Internet brining about hatred in other’s minds; or it may go to the extent of personally identify victims and publishing materials severely defaming and humiliating them.”
 
Both In-Person & Cyberbullying
This is both traditional in-person bullying and online cyberbullying happening concurrently.
 
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire suggest that cyberbullying could be less harmful than in-person bullying. However, the study also revealed that the combination of cyberbullying with in-person bullying is the most distressing to students.
 
Compared to cyberbullying alone, mixed incidents were more likely to involve people who knew embarrassing things about the victim, last for a month or longer, and become violent. A combination of both forms of bullying leaves students feeling like they have no escape.
 
As for the percentages of students in the national sample reporting harassment:
 
- 34% Claimed To Be Bullied In the Past Year
- 65% of Cyberbullying Happened via Text Message
- 54% of the 311 Incidents Described Took Place ONLY In Person
- 31% of the 311 Incidents Took Place in Person and Online
- 53% of Cyberbullying Took Place Over a Social Media Website
 
Building a comprehensive bullying prevention plan is the first step to creating a bully-free school.
 
Download our Bullying Prevention Guide for best practice tips and tricks!

Download our  Bullying Prevention Guide!

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

Suffering from Low Email Open Rates? Your Subject Line May Be the Culprit

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Jun 11, 2015 @ 09:06 AM

Anyone who has an email account can tell you: “I get so many emails that I only open the ones that pique my interest.” Even email marketers themselves can agree!
 
The subject line chosen is a huge part of this initial attraction. In fact, after successful delivery, your email marketing campaign’s subject line is the single most-important factor in getting your message opened by the recipient.
 
It’s really simple – an email marketing campaign that is never opened can never be read or clicked-through. That’s why organizations are paying closer attention to their subject lines and choosing them carefully.
 
The following are a few subject line pointers that could mean the difference between an email being read or trashed:EmailSubjectLine
 
Compel the Reader, Don’t Deceive – The email subject line needs to be something that sparks interest. A creative and compelling email subject line generates the highest open rates. But don’t deceive…CAN-SPAM established rules against misleading with a subject line.
 
Look at Subject Line Length – Although a recent report from Return Path indicated no real connection between subject line length and open rates, it’s still a factor that could influence the performance of YOUR email marketing campaigns. For example, consider all of the emails opened on mobile devices; your subject line will most definitely be clipped!
 
Don’t be Afraid to Test – As a matter of fact, email marketing will never be a one-size-fits-all mentality. You should test different variations of your subject line to see which has the greatest reception. Read more here.
 
With a carefully chosen email subject line, increase the likelihood that your message will be opened and read.
 
Looking for more email marketing best practice tips and tricks? Download our Best Practice Guide!

Topics: email newsletters, email marketing, email marketing best practices

Preventing Summer Learning Loss – 5 Activities to Keep Students Engaged

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Jun 09, 2015 @ 12:06 PM

Right now, many students are looking forward to trading in books and homework assignments for lazy summer mornings.

At the same time, educators may worry the lack of student engagement will cause their students to lose the academic skills they just spent months learning.

Summer learning loss is a real problem. Research shows that summers without quality learning opportunities put our nation’s youth at risk for falling behind in core subjects like math and reading.

Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. 

Below are 5 activities that can help students prevent summer learning loss:
 
1. Have Students Keep a Journal
Have students create a daily journal recording their summer experiences. This will help keep reading and writing skills sharp. Plus, they will have great stories to discuss with other students when school starts again.
 volunteer
2. Encourage Students to Volunteer
Encourage older students to stay active in the community by volunteering for a local organization. Volunteering provides valuable experience by helping students develop important job skills and make their own professional connections within the community.
 
3. Learn Online
There is a wide range of online learning resources for students of all ages…and most of them are free! Edutopia compiled a list of summer learning resources. Check it out here.

4. Plan Family Outings
On good-weather days, take daytrips to parks, zoos or gardens. On rainy days, you could visit libraries or museums. After each outing, discuss what you liked the most about the trip and share a fun new fact you learned.
 
5. Participate in National Summer Learning Day!
Celebrated on Friday, June 19th, Summer Learning Day is an annual national advocacy day led by the National Summer Learning Association to elevate the important of keeping kids learning, safe and healthy every summer.
 
What do you plan on doing this summer? Comment on this blog and let us know!

Topics: school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, school programs, student engagement, summer learning loss

Property Managers Save Money with Digital Tenant Communication

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Jun 04, 2015 @ 09:06 AM

As a property manager, you know just how paper-heavy the business can be. Rental applications, lease agreements, credit checks…the list goes on and on. Add to that the amount of ink and postage necessary to send these documents out the door. It all adds up quick!

Now imagine if you could reduce some of that cost while streamlining your operations. This has led many property managers in the direction of digital tenant communication.

In addition to the numerous cost and environmental benefits, property managers also enjoy the following with digital tenant communication.

Faster Message DistributionDigitalTenantCommunication
When time is of the essence, property managers need to be able to reach tenants as quickly as possible. With digital tenant communication, messages can be sent instantly via multiple communication channels such as email, voice, and SMS text messaging.

Greater Content Flexibility
Digital tenant communication isn’t always an anonymous mass message. Property managers have the option to include merge fields into their content to personalize the message to the tenant, helping to make it more relatable and relevant. Also, messages can be translated into the native languages of your tenants.

More Peace of Mind
Property managers get peace of mind in knowing exactly who received a message, and when. Detailed reports are available that outline all of this information. No longer can tenants deny having any knowledge of a matter you know they read about.
 
Keep In Mind: Some even suggest that property managers who digitize tenant communications and ‘go green’ attract more considerate tenants that share the same initiatives!

Ready To Go Digital? Click here to learn more.

Topics: multi-channel messaging, property management, tenant communication, tenant notifications, go green

Using Parent Engagement to Improve Student Health

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Jun 02, 2015 @ 10:06 AM

Parent engagement in schools is defined as parents and school administrators working together to support and improve learning, development and student health.

School efforts to promote learning and student health have been shown to be more successful when parents are involved. For example, studies indicate students who have engaged parents are more likely to have:parentengagement-2

- Higher grades and test scores
- Better student behavior
- Enhanced social skills
 
In addition, students who have parents that are engaged in their school lives are less likely to:
 
- Smoke cigarettes
- Drink alcohol
- Be physically inactive
- Be emotionally distressed
 
As a school administrator you might be thinking, where do I even start?
 
According to the CDC, here are 3 actions you can take to increase parent engagement in school health:
 
1. Make a Positive Connection with Parents
- Ensure that staff members have the ability to connect with parents
- Ask parents how they would like to be involved in the school’s health programs
- Have a well-planned program for parent engagement in the school
 
2. Provide a Variety of Opportunities to Engage Parents in Student Health Activities
- Communicate with parents about student health activities
- Train teachers to develop strategies that engage parents in discussions about health topics
 
3. Work with Parents to Sustain Parent Engagement in Student Health
- Identify challenges that keep parents from being engaged in student health activities
- Work with parents to tailor school events and activities to address those challenges
 
For more tips and tricks, download our Parent Engagement Strategy Guide today!

Improving Parent Engagement

Topics: student health, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, school programs, parent engagement, parent communication

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